Tech News on G4

Verbatim Bluetooth Foldable Mobile Keyboard

Oct 3, 2011

By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin’ - G4 Canada

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Verbatim Mobile BlueTooth KeyboardHave an iPad or iPhone but prefer the tactile feel and familiarity of a traditional keyboard, but the bulkiness of your desktop keyboard gets you down? If so, have a look the Verbatim Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard as an option.

This Bluetooth enabled keyboard offer wireless connectivity to your mobile device. It's ultra portable, folds up and packs away in its own snap-top wallet-like carry case, which occupies little more 6.25"L x 4" W and under 2" H of space in your backpack or briefcase.  When opened, the keyboard extends to a respectable 12.5" yet remains small enough to use on an airplane tray and tiny rubber feet keep it in place.

It comes in one colour - black and for the most it's part, it's laid out like a traditional keyboard; the key switches are tactile and key clicks feel natural. However, to make it small and foldable they had to make a few concessions. Many of the alpha keys are full-sized and uniform, but not all. The "G" and "B" key are smaller and strangely enough the "H" & "V" are larger. This may pose a bit of a problem for high-speed touch typists.

The space bar is actually split into 2 keys, so you need to ensure you're not hitting in the middle of the two. It does have a full complement of numeric keys, across the top, albeit half the size that you'd might expect, which can double as traditional function (F) keys, and it does have arrows keys on the bottom right.

While we talk about tradition, let's keep in mind that not all portable devices actually need the same functionality as a computer- just think of the iPhone. To that end, Verbatim has added a number of hotkeys to provide some added functionality. For example, for the Apple iOS devices there is an equivalent of the iPhone/iPad Home button as well as a function to trigger an onscreen keyboard. 

Verbatim Mobile BlueTooth Keyboard One nice touch is the dedicated "@" key, located just below the period key.

Additional support for Android devices includes using the Menu button followed by a letter. For example Menu+B will launch a browser; Menu+E launches your email program and Menu+M will give you quick access to your maps, to name a few.

There is little extra support for the Playbook running QNX.

While surface real estate is at a premium, it does have multimedia keys, - Volume up/down, next, skip etc., like you'd find on an iPod click-wheel, so you can flip through and listen to tunes from your device while you're typing.

There is also a built-in pullout stand for iPhone that can be completely removed. It's practical for smaller devices, but it's not really solid enough to support and iPad.
To keep the keyboard sturdy, especially if you are not on a solid flat surface, there is a little support bar that can be engaged with a sliding tab, just above the "4" key to lock the keyboard in place. But don't forget to unlock it when you're done, because if you apply a little force and attempt to fold the keyboard when locked, you could potentially break it.

The Verbatim Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard runs on standard AAA batteries with the access compartment stretching across the left side of the keyboard. Also right at your fingertips and slightly right of the battery access is a blue LED Wi-Fi indicator as well as a battery level indictor and a tiny on/off toggle switch.  Right above that is the pairing button, which you need to connect your keyboard to the device, which is surprisingly also front and centre. Sadly, it's recessed so you'll need to ensure you have pen tip or paperclip handy to access it.

Device Compatibility

Verbatim Mobile BlueTooth Keyboard This keyboard was designed to work with the iPhone/iPad running iOS4, but it also works with a MacBook as well as Samsung's Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, the Blackberry Playbook and many other devices. It requires not only Bluetooth to operate it also needs HID support.

Verbatim Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard retails on-line at Verbatim.com for $104, which seems a little pricey for a keyboard, which I think should more likely be in the $70-$80 range at the most. But if you shop around, you should be able to find it substantially less.

Overall, it's a nice little keyboard, especially its size when folded up and its study travel case. For non-Playbook users, the multimedia functions as well as the extra mobile device functions, like popping up the on-screen keyboard and easy-home access are handy once you get used to the slightly non-standard keyboard. I found the stand a little less functional than advertised and you're out of luck when it comes to the iPad. However, for the right price, this package makes a nice addition to your backpack.

Greg Gazin can be reached at  gadgetguy "at" telus "dot" net , GadgetGreg.com , or on Twitter @GadgetGreg

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