Stowaway Portable Keyboard Revived by Thanko

22 Comments

The Stowaway Portable Keyboard still ranks as my favorite portable keyboard of all time. The Bluetooth version I have has stood the test of time, at least 5 years, and found new life as an outstanding keyboard to be used with the iPad (s aapl). It’s too bad that Stowaway has gone away, and the company that bought the rights to the Stowaway line shut it down a couple of years ago. Good technology never dies, and Asian gadget maker Thanko has a USB portable keyboard that looks exactly like the Stowaway.

Since showing the Stowaway in use with my iPad, I have been inundated with requests from readers wanting to know where to find one. Searches online have turned up empty, but this keyboard by Thanko is available now.

The original Stowaway keyboard was available in both a USB and a Bluetooth version. The Bluetooth version is the one I use, and the wireless connectivity makes it a solid partner with the iPad. The Thanko version that is now being sold is USB only, unfortunately. This model may work with the iPad using the photo accessory that has a USB port, but that is not a given. Hopefully Thanko will also offer a Bluetooth version. They’d sell a lot of these to iPad owners, I believe. Note that the Thanko keyboard will work with any Windows PC and Mac.

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22 Comments

Thibault Thomas

I’m another fan of Think-outside 4-row. I’ve bought two of them. The first one started to miss registering key strokes. After repeating the offending key (K, L, right space bar, M…) it eventually starts working. Now the new one is doing the same thing. Does anyone know if this can be fixed by some kind of cleaning? How do you clean it?

Thanks, TT

Jack Ford

I have a Think Outside KB and just paired it with my iPad, and I typed with it perfectly.

I also have an HP TC1100, which is my main PC. It had XP Tablet Edition OS until I recently got a virus. I gave up trying to clean it and installed Windows 7 Ultimate, which I like a lot. I can pair the Think Outside with the TC1100, but when I type, nothing registers. Do I have the wrong software installed? Can someone help?

Thanks a lot

Dennisvjames

I did end up snagging one like James’on Amazon. The dealer, Bryan – BHKmart aka Transbiz (BEWARE) – priced it irrationally high, said it was new, and shipped it to me. Even tho the keyboard was broken in the weak spot right behind the battery case, a little superglue fixed that for now. Why, I had a Palm version which I loved and this is probably as close to getting a universal one as I will get. And yes it is sweet even if the process was flawed. A lot of these vendors keep one in stock then when you bite trudge around looking for one to send you. I got lucky (somewhat). You probably won’t.

Robt

I have one of these forlorn in an old gadget box. Thanks for reminding me. I will have to bring it out again.

Kal

These are awesome keyboards. Do they also work with iPhones?

I’ve had four or five over the years, going back to a model I used with a Palm IIIxe where the Palm and the keyboard attached via a sync dongle that also held the Palm up.

I like the smaller size of the four row ones, although they’ve always seemed a little flimsier than the original five rowers.

They’ve always reminded me of the folding keyboards on the old Thinkpads that expanded when you opened the screen.

Dave I

I love my Stowaway Sierra (Think Outside), but it didn’t seem to be the most robust thing. It didn’t get much use before the plastic behind the battery holder broke. I’ve just discovered a PDA stand in there! I use my keyboard with my Fujitsu P1620 tablet when I have a bit of typing to do, or if I’ve borrowed a monitor off someone.

I’m hoping that it will work OK with Android phones as one will be coming my way soon, and I’ve left USB keyboards at the places I tend to use my P1620.

RW

I have the Bluetooth Stowaway and I’ve been using it for many years, I agree it as a great keyboard to use with slate devices.

Grippy

They should make an iPad-specific version of this folding keyboard complete with iPad integrated folding adjustable stand. They could sell boat loads even at a hefty price. I wonder why those awesome Cupertino engineers haven’t come out with this accessory yet.

Luscious

My thought as well – a keyboard like this would be great for a slate device, and I’m surprised Apple didn’t realize this. Maybe HP, with it’s big R&D efforts, might just make this accessory available when their slate device hits retail.

@ James – is it possible that the Sierra BT model is tied to some patents, making it difficult for other manufacturers to sell the same?

JohnNullstream

I’ve been using my Bluetooth stowaway with my iPad in public and people keep asking me where to get one. It’s the perfect iPad companion. I feel bad telling them they are not made any more. I really hope Thanko starts making the Bluetooth model.

Badgergirl

Oooo, I guess it might also work together with an Android phone like HTC Desire? I have a Stowaway keyboard for my old Palm Vx, unfortunately no Bluetooth… People were so impressed by that keyboard 10 years ago…

Charbax

I’ve used this Think Outside Stowaway USB keyboard for about 4 years every day as my main keyboard, using it mostly with the USB host capability of Archos embedded Linux Tablet devices but also as my main keyboard for my desktop and laptop computers when outputting Ubuntu or Windows XP to my 42″ HDTV. It has been working great all that time. Igo also once released the more compact Bluetooth Stowaway keyboard which I now use with my Archos 5 Internet Tablet with Android.

Frank

I have an old Fellowes Stowaway USB keyboard but not the cable. Does anyone know where I can buy one?

Flintstone

Jim, Your Stowaway with 5 rows of keys is the “Sierra” model. Do you think the earlier “Sonoma” and “Shasta” with four rows of keys will also work with the iPad? The earlier models are designed to work with PDAs.

James Kendrick

It seems to be using the HID profile so no reason those shouldn’t work, too. I don’t like the missing number keys, though.

tivoboy

Yeah, the first day I got the ipad and realized that allz my bluetooth keyboards, like the stowaway were going to work with the ipad, I bought as many of the stows as I could find. Living here in the bay area where an igo warehouse used to be helped. I picked up 35 for less than 25$ each, and sold them all on craigs within a week for 4x – which was still less than they sell on ebay. I’m working now on finding another lot of them from the partner company of the previous igo, to see if I can get more. I’ll let you know if I get them. :-)

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