Pros: 1.5 pounds, full-size keyboard, Compact Flash Card Port, AA Batteries 100+ Hours, Leather Case
Cons: Not Backlit, No Adapter, Brief Battery-Low Warning, Short Instruction Manual
I'm a writer, and the QuickPAD Pro is the perfect tool for me.
I've been searching a long time for a portable word processor with built-in keyboard, something relatively inexpensive that I could easily carry with me. A PDA, even with an attachable keyboard, wouldn't suit my needs. A laptop computer costs too much and has way too many "bells & whistles" for someone who just wants to type.
Then I stumbled upon the website for the QuickPAD Pro. (http://quickpad.com). This nifty machine weighs only 1.5 pounds and is the size of an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper ... and it includes a full-size keyboard! One drawback is that the display is not backlit, but it is easy to read. The all-in-one unit combines the keyboard and display area in a solid heavy-duty plastic casing. As if this isn't enough, the unit runs on four AA batteries with a battery-life of 100+ hours. As an added bonus, the unit includes an elegant black leather carrying case with pockets to hold papers, Compact Flash Cards and even a few pen/pencil holders.
Remove the unit from the shipping box and unzip the leather carrying case. Four AA batteries come with the QuickPAD Pro. Pop open the battery cover on the back of the unit, and slide the batteries in place. Snap the battery cover on, and you are ready to start.
This full-size keyboard is Windows 95 compatible; the keys are easy to press and quiet. An ON/OFF button is located to the right of the row of "F" keys, which are located just beneath the display screen. The machine boots in three seconds (no exaggeration). There is also a dedicated "Spell Check" key that initiates the Spell Check program. A "Calculator" button opens the Calculator screen. There are also "Print File", "Send File" and "Delete File" buttons. The "Page Up", "Page Down", "Home" and "End" buttons and arrow keys allow easy navigation. The Esc button enables you to go back a screen or exit. The "F1" button opens a Help window.
The LCD display area measures 480x128 and is in black and white. Contrast is adjustable for customized viewing. Normal character mode allows a view of 16 lines by 60 characters long. An enlarged typeface displays 8 lines by 60 characters long. Using the normal character mode allows me to view enough of what I've written to edit as I write. Working on a longer document makes finding a specific point within multiple pages more of a challenge, but a "find" feature is available.
Single & Multi-User Modes
The QuickPAD Pro can accommodate either a single user or it can create eight folders for use by eight different users. All user folders can be password protected and are easily accessed through the F2-F9 keys.
When the unit is first turned on, use the arrow keys to select the "Set Up" feature. You can then input the day, date, time, change or input the user name, select or change the password, change the user mode (single user or multi-user), as well as set the IR Speed for infrared data transfer. The computer has a Power-Save feature, and you can set the timeout time from zero to 75 minutes.
One of the things that excited me about the QuickPAD Pro is the Compact Flash Card slot. I have a digital camera, which uses the same type Flash Card, so I already knew how much information a Flash Card can hold and how easy it is to share information on Flash Cards between devices. A 16mb Compact Flash Card can hold about 8,000 pages of text (I read this somewhere and haven't tested the count). QuickPAD Pro will accept Compact Flash Cards up to 128mb. I simply insert the Flash Card into a Flash Card Reader, which is attached via USB cord to my desktop computer. The computer sees the Flash Card as another "Drive", just like having another floppy disk drive.
Text is saved onto the Compact Flash card with the .txt extension. For example, I'm currently working on a novel. I can open WordPerfect or MS Word (or another word processing program) on my desktop computer, open a chapter I'm working on and save the chapter as filename.txt onto the Flash Card. I then remove the Flash Card and insert it into the card slot on the QuickPAD Pro where I start writing or editing the filename.txt file. I can create new files on the QuickPAD Pro, too, and save them to the Flash Card where I can later import them into the desktop computer.
QuickPAD Pro comes with built-in 1MB SRAM and 3MB Flash memory. Approximately 700 pages of text can be stored in the internal Flash memory. Therefore, you can store material directly into the unit for later transfer via either Infrared transfer or USB cable transfer or send the files using a serial port COM or USB port. The unit comes with all necessary cables for each of these methods.
To transfer files using the IR (Infrared) method, first connect the IR Receiver to the back of the computer you are transferring the data to. The IR method is useful for both Apple or PC computers. Sending files via Infrared can be slow and result in scrambled data. I recommend testing small files first to see if this is the method for you.
A USB cable can upload files to a PC; however, the USB cable will only work with Windows 98 or later revisions. The USB interface will NOT work with Windows 3.1, DOS, Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.
The serial port or USB port method is a good way to upload large chunks of data to a PC. (Though my preferred method is via Compact Flash Card ... okay, I'm slightly biased. I love Flash Cards!) QuickPAD Pro comes with a disk that includes a program to enable the transfer of files using this method. Install the program on your computer, and you are ready to transfer data once the cables are connected. The serial COM port requires a connector with 9 pins in two rows. Using the USB mode will only work with Windows 98 or later versions.
The instruction booklet that comes with the unit contains detailed instructions for each of the above methods. QuickPAD also provides free technical support.
The Opening Screen
When the unit boots up, the display area offers seven sections to enter: Word Processor, Calculator, Spread Sheet, Communication with PC, Personal Organizer, File Manager, Setup. Using the arrow keys, choose one of the options and hit the Enter key to select it. All these programs are built into the system; no software to install.
Basically, the word processor is like a large Notepad or WordPad program on a PC. It works with .txt files and has limited (next to none) formatting options. You can tab for indenting paragraphs, use the delete key and backspace key for erasing words. Shortcuts are available for cutting and pasting text (Ex: hold the Ctrl+C keys to copy selected text). There is also a shortcut (Ctrl+F) to find a string of text. Word wrap is automatic when a line reaches the end of the screen, and Spell Check is available. You cannot bold, italicize, underline, double-space or change fonts.
The word processor is easy to use. I've been editing and creating text files and have even used the word processor to type HTML code.
This is a very basic Spreadsheet with row and column headings. A host of shortcut keystrokes are available to enter and edit cell commands, range commands and functions. Text or numbers can be centered, left- or right-justified within a cell. If data wider than a cell is entered, asterisks appear in the cell. A detailed list of functions is included in the instruction manual. There are several "save" options available including: saving as a .sc spreadsheet file, as a .txt file, or as a .scx tab-delimited file for importing data into Excel to be written.
I don't intend to use the spreadsheet function much, but I did experiment with it and found it easy to use. I created text-based column headings, centered names and played with function formulas. I can see where this would be a handy feature for someone working offsite who needed to create a spreadsheet to keep orderly track of data.
Use your own ... this one is awful! QuickPAD Pro states that this is an "Expression and functions calculator" and "Function Plotter". For one thing, this looks nothing like the calculators I'm used to ... no number keys. In the command box, type in what you wish the calculator to figure (Ex: 2+4 or 10-5 or 3*9 or 15/3). The result is displayed in a box beneath the Command area. If someone isn't used to using a spreadsheet or computer keyboard functions, they won't have a clue that "*" means multiply and "/" means divide. I'm no mathematician and can only say that the instructions confused me.
A handy extra for keeping track of friends and associates. The "Contact" area offers fields for typing in: first name, last name, company name, address (3 lines worth), city, state, country, zip code, area code, country code, phone number #1, phone number #2, pager number, fax number, mobile phone number, a "Dial First" prefix, and e-mail address. A "Sort" function enables the list to be sorted by last name, first name or company. Very easy to use.
A "Scheduler" shows a calendar for the given month (during "Setup" the day, date and time were entered, which shows on this screen). It is easy to enter appointment information, but the Scheduler does not beep, ring or otherwise notify you of an impending appointment.
The Contact and Schedule information can be exported to Microsoft Outlook. The instruction manual mentions using a modem but does not explain how to use it. That's where the free technical support comes in!
I love my QuickPAD Pro. It's exactly what I wanted. The light 1.5 pounds and handy carrying case make the unit easy to carry. Click the ON button and in three seconds the machine is ready to use. Transfer of data is simple, and the machine is durable. (The manufacturer originally marketed these machines to schools and companies for personnel who do fieldwork ... the manufacturer states they are sturdy and can take abuse.)
On the QuickPAD website in the FAQ area, it states that QuickPAD Pro is compatible with Windows XP. If you are familiar with programming Basic or C++, the Customer Service agents tell me that you can create programs for use on the QuickPAD Pro.
Update (January 7, 2004)
My QuickPAD Pro laptop works great ... and the machine still looks like new! The long battery life is a treasure, and I can take the machine virtually anywhere. I've logged a lot of words on the QuickPAD Pro and plan to start writing another book on it this week. Happy writing everyone.
I hope you've found this review useful. Enjoy your day!
QuickPAD Pro Specifications
* Size: 11.5 x 9 x 1.5
* Screen Size: 480x128 B/W LCD ... 60 x 16 lines in normal character mode or 60 x 8 lines in enlarged character mode
* Weight: 1.5 pounds
* Keyboard: Full-size Windows 95 compatible keyboard
* Memory: Built in 1MB SRAM; 3MB Flash
* Memory Expansion: Flash Card interface for CompactFlash card up to 128MB
* Additional Interfaces: RS232 Com port, USB port, QuickPAD proprietary infrared
* Battery: 4 AA batteries (100 hours)
* Operating System: Fully DOS compatible
* Built In: Word process - compatible with any PC or MAC word Processor
* Spell Check
* Scientific Graphing Calculator
* Personal Organizer
* Daytime Scheduler
* QuickPAD Keyboard
* Infrared Receiver
* All necessary cables
* Carrying Case
* Users Manual
* One-year limited warranty
* Free technical support
Optional Accessories to Purchase
* Reader/Writer for Compact Flash Cards = $19.95
* AC Adapter = $19.95
* Replacement cables, carrying case, etc. also available
Please read my other reviews.
Gateway 500X Desktop Computer
HP LaserJet 1000 Printer
HP LaserJet 2200dse Printer
Dazzle Multimedia 6 in 1 Card Reader
SanDisk ImageMate CompactFlash Card Reader
Logitech Mouseman Cordless Optical Mouse
Fellowes Mousepad with Gel Wristrest
Mighty Bright Light
Belkin UPS Emergency Battery Backup
Copyright 2002 Dawn L. Stewart