Shown above is an image of my Quickpad IR keyboard. As you can see, it is a compact device, at least as compact as it can be with a laptop sized keyboard.
To achieve the small size, the unit has the limited LCD display, and just
enough of a body to support the keypad. Layout is pretty standard, with a few
specific Quickpad keys added, such as : Spell Check, Send File, Delete
File, and a few others.
I purchased my Quickpad IR about a year ago. I was a bit frustrated by a
lack of features on my old Alphasmart Pro and the fact that as an older unit,
the keyboard was a bit sticky. One particular feature I wanted was the ability
to download as well as upload files.
I use both keypads so that I can keep working on webpage content, book chapters, or notes, when I'm not in front of my computer. Sometines that's at the doctor's office, in a motel room when traveling, whatever.
I also use it when I'm tired of being at the computer terminal. I can relax in an easy chair with the keypad on my lap, and type away as ideas come to me. In this mode I'm not even looking at the small display, just touch typing. I find it works rather well. I make a few mistakes, but they are easily fixed after I upload the files. Usually the computer's spelling checker finds most of my mistakes.
Similarities with Alphasmart
On the surface, there is a lot of similarity between my old Alphasmart Pro
and my Quickpad IR. The Quickpad has about the same memory as the Alphasmart,
thus can hold 70 pages of text. The Quickpad and Alphasmart both have
4 line, 40 character per line displays. Both operate in a default insert mode,
with the ability to move around within a document and delete characters. Both
can operate for about 100 hours on batteries, though the Alphasmart uses 2
batteries, while the Quickpad requires 4.
Differences with Alphasmart
The Quickpad, being a bit newer, has some of the features not in my old
Alphasmart, though the features are in the newer models of Alphasmart. Those
features are the ability to download files (with some Windows software and an
optional serial cable), a built in calculator, a spell checker, and an optional
scheduler and address/phone list.
The Quickpad has 10 function keys instead of 8 as with the Alphasmart. While each Alphasmart key is a file, each Quickpad function key is a file folder, and can hold numerous files. The files within the folders are named by the user.
Memory in the Quickpad is just one contiguous block. It could be conceivably absorbed by a single document, or split between as many files as memory permits depending upon model. Mine indicates it can hold 250 files, small though they'd be. So in that regard, the Quickpad makes better use of memory.
My Quickpad IR has but one connector on the back, and it is only used to connect to the serial port of your computer if you wish to use the Windows software for quicker uploads, or to download text files.
Also on the back is the IR window, normally used to handily upload files through the keyboard port, and an intensity wheel adjuster.
The Good and the Bad
While the Quickpad has up, down, left, right, beginning of file, and end of file keys, there doesn't appear to be a key or quick sequence to jump to the beginning or end of a line. This added to the less obvious cursor (and underline character) makes it hard for me to edit sometimes. I have to hold down the left or right cursor keys to move to a spot, and I lose track of the cursor.
There is a downside to the more conventional filing system of the Quickpad. In a sense, the Quickpad has only one file open at a time, while the Alphasmart essentially has all eight of its files open at once.
With the Quickpad, I must close one file before viewing or working with another. And when opening a file, the cursor is always placed at the beginning of the newly opened file. This is very conventional, but not nearly as handy as the simultaneously open files of the Alphasmart (see the Alphasmart review for details).
The Quickpad is lighter than my Alphasmart Pro, and the display has an intensity adjustment, making it easier to read. And of course, being newer, the keyboard works better.
I've checked out the Windows software and serial connection for uploading and downloading files, and it is easy to use and works well. As it happens, I generally run Linux, and the software doesn't seem to work in the Wine utility in Linux that often runs Windows software. So I rarely use the download feature, and work mostly with the handy IR upload interface.
All in all, the Quickpad is a very portable and convenient writing tool. With the supplied IR interface to my computer keyboard interface, I don't even need to connect the Quickpad to ship files to my computer. I have to admit that the feature is beginning to grow on me.
The Quickpad is heavily targeted for the school environment, and the file
system it supports is great for that purpose. Each folder may be named,
password protected, and contain several (small) files. This makes it perfect
for students. A single Quickpad could serve several students, each having
their own folder and be denied access to other students' folders.
It is difficult for me to make a recommendation of either the Alphasmart or
Quickpad over one other. Depending upon the nature of any given project,
sometimes I prefer the simplistic filing system of the Alphasmart, and
sometimes the more conventional file management system of the Quickpad.
The Quickpad comes in a little cheaper than the Alphasmart, costing new about $190. Really an insignificant difference in price.
Hopefully you've gained enough of the flavor of the two devices and the features so that you can determine which would work best for you.
If you want to look for a used one like I did, you can find some good deals most any time at eBay.