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Using a Dell Stowaway bluetooth keyboard with Nokia N95

Dell Stowaway Bluetooth tastatur - mobilmag.dk

If you own a N95 you will probably agree that this phone is something of a chameleon - one minute it is an excellent digital camera or a decent camcorder; the next minute an MP3-player, FM radio or powerful communication device.

Using peripherals with the N95 only adds to the chameleon-like character of the device - the TV-out feature is a case in point. In this respect, using a bluetooth keyboard is no exception since a keyboard opens up entirely new ways to use the N95, while at the same time turning well known features - e.g. the browser - into whole new experiences.

The biggest difference has to do with text input, of course - an area in which the N95 otherwise comes up short because of its standard phone keypad. The keypad is well suited for texting and other short texts, but when it comes to emails and other, longer texts - like notes for instance - these quickly become quite cumbersome to punch in using T9. And I will not even mention the hassle with typing in words not not known to the T9 dictionary…

A bluetooth keyboard changes all that because all of a sudden, long texts, complex applications and games can be handled without any fuss.

The keyboard I am currently using is a »Dell«-brandet Stowaway bluetooth keyboard from Mobility Electronics (they produce the same keyboard as the »iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim« and »Think Outside Stowaway«). The keyboard was purchased from mobileplanet.com for  $63 - mobileplanet.com also sell the »iGo« version, which until recently was priced at $150 (now $90).

The Dell version is apparently intended specifically for Dell PDAs. The CD included in the product package only contains drivers for Dell Axim PDAs and the manual only describes how to use the keyboard with Axims. However, because the Dell keyboard is identical to the »iGo« version in anything but name, manuals and drivers can be downloaded from iGo's web site to make the keyboard work with N95.

In fact the keyboard is not only compatible with the N95 - drivers are available for a whole slew of platforms and phone models, including Symbian S60 (v1, v2 og v3), Symbian UIQ, Motorola, Palm, Sony Ericsson, Garmin (navigation), Windows (Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, XP and Vista) and quite a few more - a link to driver download is provided at the end of this post.

The following video allows you to get some idea of the size and look of the keyboard:

 

It is difficult to say precisely what layout the keyboard has. Since there are only three rows of keys, many keys have several functions, available by pressing one of the special, color coded function keys (marked "FN" and placed on either side of the "space" key(s)) or the "ALT" key. For instance there are no dedicated keys for the special Danish characters  - æøå - these can be types using the "ALT" key + 'u' (æ), 'p'  (ø) og 't' (Ã¥). The special layout presents no particular prolem, however, in my experience it is very straight forward - and fast - to type on the keyboard - even though I am most familiar with a standard, Danish key layout.

To make the keyboard work with the N95 it is necessary to install a keyboard driver on the phone (link at the end of the post). The driver is a modest application, which also supports customizing some keyboard functions. There are four tabs in the application (see below images) - the first tab displays the status of the phone-keyboard connection, plus settings for key repeat rats. The second tab contains settings for connection and keyboard layout. On the third tab a number of shortcuts can be customized and the last tab is the driver "About" page.

Stowaway keyboard driver: Status - mobilmag.dkStowaway keyboard driver: Indstillinger - mobilmag.dk

Stowaway keyboard driver: Genveje - mobilmag.dkStowaway keyboard driver: About - mobilmag.dk

To connect phone and keyboard, the two must first be paired. The driver uses an encrypted connection which means that the same code must be typed in on both phone and keyboard during the pairing.

Stowaway keyboard driver - aktiver bluetooth - mobilmag.dkStowaway keyboard driver - telefonen scanner efter tastatur - mobilmag.dk

Stowaway keyboard driver - tastatur fundet, telefon forsøger at etablere forbindelse - mobilmag.dkStowaway keyboard driver - indtast kode for sikker forbindelse - mobilmag.dk

Stowaway keyboard driver - forbindelse er etableret - mobilmag.dk

It is only necessary to type in the code when pairing phone and keyboard. Once this is over and done with, is only takes a few seconds to start using the keyboard: turn on the bluetooth radio on the phone and fold out the keyboard; press any key on the keyboard and it connects to the phone instantly. Disconnecting the keyboard is equally simple: just fold the keyboard together to make it disconnect and turn itself off.

All in all, I am very impressed by the Dell keyboard. It is yet another, albeit small, step towards mobile phones replacing laptops. If one either find oneself in an emergency (relatively speaking) or just really has to "go mobile" and travel light, it is actually not all together impossible to leave the laptop at home and just bring phone + keyboard.

What follows is a list of positive things, I have noticed about the keyboard. It is very easy to use and because it is light and nimble, it does not take up much room in a bag (it is too big for a shirt or trouser pocket, but can without problem be carried in a coat pocket). When the keyboard is folded out, it locks in place and can held in one hand, or placed on the lap. The driver features 10 shortcuts which can be customized to suit one's own purposes.

I have also noticed a drawbacks. The keyboard is somewhat prone to tilting if the keys in the lower right or left corner are pressed. It is apparently not possible to bring up the phone's special character menu (usually available by pressing the »pencil edit« key on the phone) - only the characters on the keys are available. This for instance means that in some text dialogues, it is impossible to type in line breaks.

Link: Symbian S60v3 driver for Stowaway keyboard - download drivere for other phones here.

Link: S60 Manual for Stowaway keyboard.

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14 Responses to “Using a Dell Stowaway bluetooth keyboard with Nokia N95”

  1. Chris Says:

    FYI: mymemory.co.uk currently have the iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard (identical to the one mentioned in the above post - except the iGo version is not branded with the Dell logo) on sale for £17.99.
    That is a bargain you do not want to miss, if you would like to have a bluetooth keyboard for your mobile phone…

  2. Gravatar Fernando Says:

    Great review, thanks!

    I have a question, though: Does anyone know why the iGo website say the N95 is incompatible with its keyboards? When you go to look for drivers at their support page and you select Nokia + N95 you get:
    Your product is currently
    Not Compatible: Model has been tested and found to be incompatible

    However, it does list a driver if you select the N73, for instance.
    And I saw a review of the full-size keyboard on Amazon that said it wasn’t compatible with the N95.
    Maybe it’s a firmware version issue?
    I’m looking into buying one of these keyboards and I want to make sure I won’t have compatibility issues.

  3. Chris Says:

    Hi Fernando - glad you like the post!
    What phone model do you have…a N95? I use the iGo N73 driver with my N95 and it works without any problems - it is the one I am linking to in the post above.
    I have no idea why iGo continue to list the N95 as incompatible when this is clearly not the case. Or why they do not just come up with a “proper” N95 driver? Odd…especially considering how popular this model is.
    I have come across numerous other people that use the N73 driver with their N95 - I even think the N73 driver works with most S60 3rd edition handsets.
    Something else must have gone wrong for the person who wrote the review on Amazon - and it is not a firmware issue.

  4. Gravatar Fernando Says:

    Thanks, that’s very reassuring. I do have an N95.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Gravatar Phil Says:

    I was so disappointed to hear it didn’t work with N95.

    But my N95 works a treat with N73 driver. Top man!!

  6. Gravatar Uwe Says:

    Hello,

    I own an Nokia N95 8GB and for me the iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim works as well (thanx for the the tip using the N73-driver!). The only problem I have is that I’m not able to build up a secure connection. The instruction wants me to type a code with the mobile device keyboad and after that the same code with the iGo keyboard but nothing happens then, I’m not able to write a single number with the iGo although mobile device and keyboard are connected. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanx

  7. Gravatar Adam Says:

    Uwe,..

    I have the same phone, same keyboard, same driver.. and for a while, the same problem.

    You may have been making my mistake for a while….
    (I hope you have because the solution is below)

    The keyboard threw me for a bit, but.. try this…
    When you get as far as Entering the Passcode on the phone, enter a simple numerical value.. 1 or 0 etc.. then, on the keyboard, make sure you reply by entering the same numeric value by using pressing the Blue Fn key and the same Blue numeric key as you chose for the phone and then, Pressing the Blue Fn Key and ‘Blue Ok/Select’ button.

    Unless you are using the Blue Fn key for both operations.. it will not what value you used to enter.

    Hope thats the solution you need.

    - Adam

  8. Gravatar Uwe Says:

    Hello Adam,

    Thanx for your answer. Unfortunately it didn’t help solving my problem. Pressing the Blue Fn Key is what I always did. First of all I am asked to enter a numerical value for the phone, then for a while nothing happens (BT is searching/make keyboard visible), until I am asked again to enter some numbers for the phone, not for the keyboard! Finally I am told, that BT failed. So my problem is not about pressing the wrong keys but that I never get a chance to enter numbers for the keyboard. Well, in the end it’s not so important, as long as I am able to build up a connection, even though an insecure one, I am ok.

    Uwe

  9. Gravatar Phil Says:

    I remember something about having to put it in listening mode (or something) by pressing Ctrl + Blue FN + Green FN and holding them down for a few seconds. The green lights starts flashing more regularly.

    Then attempt to connect from the phone via the stwy application. It request you to enter you four digit code on the phone.

    Immediately after entering that code enter it on the keyboard Blue FN + nnnn as you would connect any blue tooth device and then keep your fingers crossed!

    Remember it being a bit hit and miss!

  10. Chris Says:

    @Phil: Absolutely correct - to pair your keyboard with another device, you put the keyboard in listening mode as you describe it. This is a one-time procedure for each device you pair the keyboard with.

    @Uwe: You do not first enter a code for the phone, then another code for the keyboard.

    Look at the prompt in the second last image in the above post - here you enter a code on the phone and you then immediately afterwards enter the same code on the keyboard, remember to finish pressing enter.

    There is no prompt for entering the code on the keyboard - as soon as you have entered the code on the phone, the phone will wait for the same code being transmitted from the keyboard. You are probably being asked to enter the code again because the phone times out from waiting for the keyboard.

    All of this is described in the manual.

  11. Gravatar Uwe Says:

    @Phil & Chris: Now it’s working! The problem was that I was waiting for another prompt to enter the code for the keyboard. Finally the solution (as described by Chris) was much easier than I thought.

    Thanx a lot for your help! :-)

    Uwe

  12. Gravatar Reinhard Says:

    just bought the iGo from the site chris mentioned. i’ve got an ordinary N95. my keyboard works fine without any driver installation. open the iGo keyboard and press ctrl-fnr-fnl. the green lamp above the t-key will start blinking. go to the office software in your N95, there is a bluetooth keyboard icon. follow the instructions of your phone. its easy and fast. good luck everybody. reinhard

  13. Chris Says:

    @Reinhard: By doing so, you are actually using the built-in wireless keyboard application for Nokia’s own SU-8W keyboard. That is entirely possible…I have done so myself at one point - just be aware that by not using the “proper” Stowaway driver, you miss out on some of the functionality.

  14. Gravatar BLTP Says:

    I’ve got a nokia n95 8gb and all the above works (using n73driver) one tip make sure you unzip the application and install it in the phone memory not the mass memory and then follow the instructions and it works like magic!

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