How to Change the BlackBerry PlayBook Keyboard

The basic keyboard for the BlackBerry PlayBook is a recognizable version of the familiar QWERTY device that most of us have learned to master to some degree or another.

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The PlayBook variant is nicely designed and actually pretty easy to use. It has only lowercase letters. When you start a new sentence, the tablet automatically capitalizes the first letter.

Keyboard Tricks
To Do This… Do This
Make an uppercase letter (somewhere other than first thing in a sentence). Tap the up-arrow pad of the virtual keyboard.
Insert a number or a common symbol (such as $ or @). Tap the 123SYM button. The common symbols are the ones you would expect for ordinary text including grammatical indicators like parentheses, the question mark, exclamation symbol, and the like.
Insert mathematical operators or symbols for the Euro, the Yen, the Pound, and some other international characters. Tap the 123SYM button and then tap the blue circle.
Insert Danish-y letters or trademark symbols. Press and hold some of the characters on the top-level keyboard. In the window that pops up above the letter, tap the symbol you want to insert.

There’s no reason why Research in Motion, or another company, might not offer more keyboard variations in the future. Almost certainly the BlackBerry PlayBook will roll out in other parts of the world with keyboards that support other needs such as Cyrillic or Asian characters.

But you also have the choice of two other keyboards if you prefer to use them (or if you want to goof on someone and change their preference before they sit down to compose a memo).

The QWERTZ keyboard is used in some parts of Central and Eastern Europe, taking into account the relative disuse of the letter Y and the more common usage of Z. One keyboard that was missing, at least in the initial release of the BlackBerry PlayBook: the DVORAK layout, a supposed improvement on the QWERTY design that was put forth in 1936.

Whichever keyboard you choose, you can adapt its onscreen display slightly by choosing amongst U.S. or U.K. English, French, Spanish, German, or Italian. You make your selection by tapping the symbol of a globe. This changes, for example, the word Return on the keyboard to, respectively: Return, Retour, Intro, Zurück, or Invio.

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