It is easy to interact with the Sony U due to the various ways Sony has provided to enter data and work with the interface. Even so, there are times when it would be convenient to enter something quickly, say a password, without reaching for the stylus. Nostram Studios, the operators of the Sony U enthusiast site UAddict, is getting ready to release a simple solution called the UBoard. UBoard is an on-screen keyboard that is designed with keys large enough that allow typing with the fingers. The keyboard is attractive and responsive and very easy to use.
Nostram was kind enough to let me have a sneak peek and I have been working with it for a week or so and I use it so much I have assigned a hardware key to invoke (and exit) the program. UBoard autosizes to fit the width of the screen and works in both portrait and landscape mode very well. The keyboard fills a large part of the screen (which is small to begin with) so how do you see what you’re working on along with the keyboard? UBoard has a user configurable transparency level so even though it’s filling most of the screen you can see right through it. This is a clever idea and makes it possible to use UBoard with any program for text entry. If you are averse to smudging your screen with your dirty fingertips you can enter data on the keyboard with your stylus, just like any other on-screen keyboard.
Using UBoard is very simple- you start the program by tapping the program icon or as I stated earlier you can assign a hardware button to launch it. Exiting the program is just as simple, you can tap the program icon (or press the button) again and it will disappear. There is also an EXIT button to the right of the space bar. Simple and elegant. Tapping the SHIFT key changes the EXIT button to a CFG button where you can tailor the program settings to your liking. You can set where on the screen you want the program to appear (or fill the whole screen), customize the level of transparency, and toggle the key click noise. The key click is very soft and I prefer to leave it on for feedback.
UBoard should be available in a few weeks and Nostram will be selling the utility for $14.95. I should point out that even though I am using a beta version it has been rock solid and given me no trouble. I will follow up with a post when UBoard is available for purchase.