Earlier this week I splashed out £10 on a leather case/mini usb keyboard combo, in hope that it would let me use my ereader as a cheap netbook for writing. It arrived today, so when I got home from work I plugged it in, expecting it to work once I enabled USB hosting.
I’d read somewhere in one advert for this product that the vendor didn’t recommend anyone buying this for Android 2.1, for some reason I thought my device was currently running a version of 2.2 so I assumed it would work. It was then that I discovered that I was running 2.1.
“No matter,” I thought, “I’ll just flash my device again with a more recent ROM.” And so I did just that, following these instructions for installing Voltaire Android 2.2 (Froyo), and after a brief while – thankfully free of the scares I had the first time around – my device rebooted with Android 2.2, with an added bonus of this ROM coming Rooted for added usefulness.
Again I plugged in the keyboard, and went looking for the options that would finally allow me to use a hardware keyboard instead of that infernal software keyboard that is so unusable on a resistive screen.
It was then that I discovered a second problem. There is no USB Host mode in 2.2 either, and not just that, but having googled and read up on the subject, I discovered that to use this keyboard and other such USB devices, I’d need something capable of USB Host mode. As it turns out, the Archos 70b eReader doesn’t appear to be. It’s not even something that is hidden in the background awaiting unlocking once you have root access.
So, having googled some more, it now looks like my only recourse would be to purchase a mini USB to full USB host cable and a second converter to switch back from full USB to mini USB, and even then, it’s highly unlikely to work as the eReader device probably isn’t capable of enough power to actually power a USB device like that.
So, I grudgingly admit defeat on this. My dream of being able to run a basic word editor on the device and type out passages of novels and screenplays while on the move appears to be dead in the water. I may have to splash out on a new battery for my old linux netbook instead. This will mean carrying around three devices on my daily commutes: my Phone, for general communication plus the defacto games for any capable devices – Angry Birds and Draw Something; my eReader, for doing the obvious and expected thing of being able to read books; and my netbook, for doing productive things like writing. Thankfully all of these things are rather small and light, so it shouldn’t be too much to bear. The downside is a bag full of (albeit it cheapish) technology that I would hate to lose, either through my own doing or someone else’s nefarious actions.
On the bright side – having installed the new ROM, and begun re-installing my apps again, I managed to get FBReader working with the keymapping, which I had failed to do last time. There were some key differences in the installation compared to last time. Not sure how many are relevant, but perhaps worth noting here should anyone else have a similar problem and come across this post via Google:
- Last time I had tried keymapping with the actions nextPage and previousPage. Tonight was the first time I used the volumeKeyScrollForward/Backward actions.
- The second thing that is different this evening is that I now have an external SD card installed (courtesy of upgrading my ZTE Blade’s SD card today so that I had more space for apps, music, games, photos and videos), so the file went on there. not sure if that is relevant?
- I may also have a more up to date version of FBReader, having downloaded it from the market tonight..
- I don’t know if order of appearance in the xml file is relevant, but I noticed in a forum post by someone with a similar issue that their keys were listed in reverse numeric order. On mine I now have:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <keymap> <binding key="21" action="volumeKeyScrollBackward" /> <binding key="22" action="volumeKeyScrollForward" /> </keymap>
- Finally, I can’t rule it out, but perhaps I simply didn’t restart FBReader after editing the keymapping last time? 😀