If you’re one of those people who’d much rather prefer the physical feel of keys pushing down under your fingers as you type, as opposed to that indifferent response from the capacitive screen of your smartphone/tablet, then you wouldn’t be the first of many who’ve opted for the rising brand of mini Bluetooth keyboards. However, with the magnitude of choice that’s on offer these days, we thought we’d do quick review of one that came our way.
This one was a Chinese-made Bluetooth keyboard, versions of which seem to be cropping up all over the place nowadays (Ch-invasion?) through some not-so-clever rebranding. Sadly, it seemed to dissapoint in more than one department. Here’s why:
To start with, a “Bluetooth” keyboard should have no issues with it’s primary connectivity, right? Well, guess again – getting this device’s bluetooth to work is an issue in itself! The keyboard generates a 5-6 digit numerical key which the user has to punch in to the phone or tablet in order to register the device, but this process is so sketchy at times, that it takes more than a few tries along with a lot of fiddling to get set up. It features Bluetooth 2.0, operating up to a 10 m range and although the keyboard didn’t seem to have any problems connecting to a host of phones (and my PS3), the HTC Smart and iPod touch in particular did not seem to like it one bit. As the Na’Vi (ref: Avatar) would say: “No tsaheylu” Strike one!
Build, finish & functionality
The overall build of the keyboard doesn’t seem too bad (seeing as there’s very little to screw up in this department). The device measures 115 x 60 x 9mm and weighs about 45g – roughly the dimensions of an iPhone and fairly light which means it can be easily stowed away in your pocket – still you wouldn’t want to sit on it to test for rigidity. The keyboard features a built-in rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery which the manufacturers claim delivers up to 50 hours of constant use or up to 400 hours of standby. It comes with 49 fully functional keys, including a full QWERTY, complete with space and number keys and also not one but 2 ‘Fn’ keys to access the arrow keys, volume and a host of other built-in shortcuts. I found these to be particularly helpful while navigating the PS3’s XMB menu which involves several levels that I would normally use the controller for, but the keyboard seemed to handle these quite effortlessly. So that’s a +1 for build, finish & functionality – the HID lives to fight another round
Size & Layout
When looking for an accessory of this sort to go with your smartphone or tablet, you’d want something that’s essentially the right size not just to carry around, but also big enough to type. Sadly, I’d have to say this was the nail in the keyboard’s proverbial coffin: even though it’s as big as the iPhone, it’s still just too small! The square grid keyboard layout makes two-handed typing very difficult and you end up having to use 2 thumbs in order to type anything – which entirely defeats the purpose of using the keyboard in the first place. Game over!
- Decent build and finish
- Light and compact
- Full keyboard with several added shortcuts
- Good battery life
- Sketchy Bluetooth recognition
- Sticky keys make for somewhat slow-typing
- Size is too small for 2-handed typing