The case of the missing shift key

Can you spot what’s missing here?

Can you spot what’s missing here?

Sundeep got in touch today. She’s looking at getting a very cheap, simple, laptop to develop Arduino software. She asked me what I thought of the GEO Book 1, which is presently on sale at the very attractive price of 99 pounds. It’s got a Celeron processor, a mere 2G of memory and uses rather slow eMMC memory for the rather paltry 32G of storage that it provides.

But it only costs 99 pounds.

I had a look around and the reviews of it were not great, but these reviews were for a device priced at 160 pounds, not 99.

As it happened, I was in PC World buying another hard disk (I’ve run out of space for my photos) and they had the GEO on show. So I took a look.

First impressions were good. The display is fine, the construction smart enough and there seemed to be a reasonable turn of speed. I sneaked behind the rolling demo and fired up Word to get an idea of the performance. Everything fired up reasonably well. Quick enough to be useful. Then I tried to type something and it came out kind of wrong. So I tried again. My text was being mangled. Then I took a proper look at the computer.

There is no SHIFT key on the right hand side of the keyboard. As a touch typist I find this key rather useful. When I type W I use the shift key with my right hand and press w with my left. This did not work. I thought I was going mad at first, and that I’d failed to spot something fundamental. But no. There really is no SHIFT key on the right hand side.

I can’t believe they’ve made a computer like this. I was thinking of getting one of the devices just to see what you can do with a really cheap machine. I had high hopes. But not if I can’t type on it. If you fancy getting your hands on a Windows 10 machine that is so cheap that you could regard it as disposable then I can just about recommend it. But if you want to type properly on the keyboard you’ll need to be careful.

There might be some cunning keyboard mapping code that you could add to steal one of the other keys on that row to work as a shift, and you can of course plug an external keyboard the USB port, but for me I’m afraid that the GEO is a no-go. Even at such an amazing price point.