An Android Use For The iGo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard

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One of the biggest challenges that I’ve been facing with my experiment to not use my laptop for any personal Internet use is with text input. Unfortunately there is a severe lack of decent Android-powered smartphones with a built-in QWERTY keyboard, so I’m stuck using the onscreen keyboard.

After struggling with it, I remembered that some years ago I bought an iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard for $30, which was an incredible deal. I’ve used the keyboard with several of my Nokia handsets, and was bummed to discover that Android does not have the Bluetooth HID support that my Nokia phones have always had. Fortunately, CyanogenMod’s v6.0 ROM has this support built right in.

As you can see in the image, I’m now using my iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard to type this on my Nexus One. It’s definitely a great solution, and will make blogging from my phone a much more enjoyable experience, for sure. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any good deals on the iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard online anymore. Amazon wants over $100 for it, and most of the Ebay auctions are priced the same. If you got in on the $30 deal a while back like I did, I would definitely encourage you to root your phone, install CyanogenMod v6.0, and enjoy the keyboard once again.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

14 thoughts on “An Android Use For The iGo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard

  1. Jeez Ricky, you’re really making me want to install CyanogenMod ROM. I guess I’ll try to do it this week. Using the same kb as yours will make the N1 a lot more useable.

    Thanks Ricky!

    1. Cyanogenmod is definitely worth a try. You can always go back to stock if you don’t like it or you want to stick with the stock software. One thing I wish you could do with android is install features from custom roms as packages that enhance the functionality while still taking advantage of the stock software if you choose.

  2. The best and latest Bluetooth keyboard that seems to work well with just about annoying is Apple’s. I have that one and at $70 it is not bad, and a good bit more durable than some of the folding-type keyboards that have been offered for mobile devices in the past (and I have gone through just about all of them it seems).

  3. Hey Ricky, thanks tweeting about the keyboard today. Hopefully this will show up in Google because I have been looking to use my iGO since picking up my Nexus One in May. For some reason, Cyanogen never came up in the threads I had seen.

    Fwiw, CM6 has been more stable than stock Froyo or 2.1. Highly recommend it. The trackball alerts are worth the rooting alone!

  4. It’s funny to read your post today a day after I unsuccessfully tried to connect my iGo stowaway BT keyboard ( yeah I paid like $30 sometime in the early 2008). Even though I am pretty good at using the on-screen keyboards it is convenient to every now and then just type on a hardware keyboard. I’m not into rooting my phones and playing with custom roms though. Anyway this was a nice piece of info.

    1. Yeah, I’m getting better with the onscreen keyboards, but nothing beats real buttons, especially for longer-form stuff like emails and blogging.

      Do you have a Nexus One? I’d highly recommend you check out the Nexus One Development subforum at XDA – read through for a while to really get a grasp. Here’s a rough translation that helped me wrap my mind around it:

      Root = gives you full access to your phone
      Recovery = kinda like a custom BIOS for your phone – you can pretty much always boot into recovery, even if your phone is ‘bricked’, and it lets you wipe various memories and install ROMs/Updates/Themes
      Nandroid = like making an image of your phone – you can erase everything, then restore a nandroid backup and *everything* is back how it was – settings, apps, etc.

      Before you do anything, make sure you do a nandroid – these get stored in a folder on your memory card, so as long as you don’t format your memory card, you’re good to go. You could, if you wanted, install and setup 3-4 different ROMs, create a nandroid of each, and then freely switch between them. You’d go mad, and almost certainly Murphy’s Law would kick in at the most inopportune time, but you could do it, nonetheless.

  5. Since one Week i have my first Android Device, an LG Gt540, as a cheap Start. And was more than disappoitnted that i could not use my Stowaway with it, like on my “old” Nokia 5500.

    An external Keyboard is a very important issue for me! So far my thougts about possible solutions:

    -Seems I have to find a way to integrate the HID Standart into Android…it is like a “Android/Linux Boot Camp” for me, since i am a Beginner with Android. (Cheap but kind of Time consuming, but in the long run I want a rooted Phone anyway! not that i would need the Root Mode, it´s more like a prestige thing for me)

    -Or just buy a SPP Profile supporting Bluetooth Keyboard (SPP or HID seems to be the Point in this Case) Keyboards like the Freedom Pro, wich seems the only on the Market. (about 75 € here in Germany)

    -Or get something like this:

    http://www.pearl.de/a-PX2556-1002.shtml

    Not folding, still small enough for me… but don`t know for sure if Android is supporting the “Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR” Standart. They are claiming in the PDF Cataloge that Android 2.0 is supported (30 €)

    -Or get a Dell Streak or a Archos 5, both Devices seem to support the HID Standart

    -Or maybe an external Wifi Keyboard would work (but i need/want a small lightwight Keyboard, those Wifi Keyboards are BIG, i want/need a small one) But this way to attach a Wifi Keyboard to my Droid has to be proven yet, could not find anything an the Internet yet.

    -Or attach an wired USB Keyboard, there are quite small ones availible here (around 25 €), but there is some soldering to do, and there is no Plug and Play.

    http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2010/02/enabling_usb_host_mode_on_the_motor.html

    -Or get a Celluon Laserkey CL850 Laser Keyboard, there seems to be an Android support for this Gadget?

    -And my last Hope would be my old Palm Infrared Keybord, even so my new Android Phone has no Infrared, maybe the Camera could be used as an Infrared Port? (i think i would have to write the Software myself…)

    These are my possible Solutions so far, i think i will try the CM Way as first.

    In the meantime those external Keyboard Writers / Affectionados / Thinkoutside Owners (and Fans) like me should post their Need for an HID Support in Android, maybe here:

    http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/android/thread?tid=5f01c16310abbf24&hl=en

    So far my thougts…

    Frank aka Rustdevil (on Twitter)

    P.S: This question even brings me to think about buying an N8 or so, and going back to Symbian again. And, well i have to admit that i even thought about getting an iPhone, those Foxcomm Products seem to have HID support from iOS4. Well, not really Options for me.

  6. Hello. Can you provide any instructions for installing CyanogenMod v6.0 on my Nexus One? I would like to try to use the Igo keyboard. Thanks.

  7. Yey I am so in love with this post/blog!!! I have had the board for years and I paid the same as you 🙂 I sure hope this helps me! Thx

  8. I have the same keyboard, and cyanogen mod 7 on my htc hd2. But I can’t get it to work 😦 any idea how to get it working?

  9. Here it is, late 2012, and i am happy to report that the iGo keyboard now connects without any rooting or additional software. I was cleaning out some old boxes and happened across my old iGo, which I also bought for $30 I recall — for my Blackberry! Anyway, I first paired it with my Moto Atrix 2 running ICS. Next, I paired it with my Moto Xoom tablet running Jellybean. Easy in both instances. I’m tying this on it right now. In addition to all the primary keys, I am able to access arrows, which take you through icons on your home screens or links on a Web page, as well as Home/PgUp/PgDn/End. SWEET!

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