By Jeremy M. Zoss in GearFest
Monday, January 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Thanks to CES, we've got gadgets on our minds, and over the last few weeks we've been testing out a few pieces of gear, including the second generation mobile keyboard from Verbatim. Now, I'll admit up front that this post has little to do with gaming (Although you could use it for a iOS version of a classic text adventure). But I'm of the mindset that both tablets and iOS and Android phones have proven their legitimacy as gaming platforms. We report on non-gaming features of game consoles (such as Netflix), so why not cover peripherals that make the non-gaming aspects of tablets and smartphones that make the devices better?
And believe me, this bluetooth keyboard does make my tablet better.No matter how good the onscreen keyboard of a iOS or Android device is, it's not as good as a physical keyboard. I've tried pretty much every onscreen keyboard option available, and while many are solid, I've never found one that's good enough typing anything longer than a quick email. That's where Verbatim's folding keyboard comes in. Via Bluetooth, the keyboard connects to any device running iOS 4 or Android 3.0 or higher. With it, you can comfortably bang out a more lengthy document with relative ease.
The Verbatim mobile keyboard retails for around $80 (although you can find it online for around $60). That's the price of a retail game, so let's check out the good and not-so-good.
Obviously, the first upside to the keyboard is that it gives you a real physical keyboard with nice key-feel and responsiveness. It connects seamlessly and quickly via Bluetooth and is nice and light at just under 16 ounces. Closed, the keyboard is about six inches long, open it's double that. For me, that's both a reasonable transportation size and as wide as my laptop when opened. It's easy on batteries too - after weeks of use I'm still on the original set of AAA batteries.
The keyboard also includes a carrying case and integrated media controls for all your favorite Apple media. I wasn't able to check out those features (I've been using it with an HTC Android tablet), but I'll still count integrated media controls as a plus.
I'll say right away that the good features outweigh the bad, but there are at least two legitimate issues to discuss. First, it's a second piece of gear to carry around. I tote around a Chrome laptop bag every day that has two front interior pockets. I slip my tablet in one and the keyboard in the other, and it works out great. The extra weight in my bag is negligible and it doesn't take space away from anything else. But if I'm not bringing my bag with me, the keyboard isn't coming with me. And of course, if you're bringing a laptop bag with a tablet and a keyboard, why not just bring a laptop?
The second issue is the keyboard layout. Once you get used to it, it's perfectly natural. But it does take some time to get used to, mainly because there are keys of a few different sizes on the keyboard and has a few unique aspects that take a moment to get acclimated to. The space bar, for example, is actually two side-by-side buttons (the fold hinge in the middle cuts the bar in two).
I'm quite happy with the Verbatim mobile keyboard. You can argue that if you want to add a keyboard to a tablet, you might as well use a laptop. I use my tablet every day, and I don't need a physical keyboard every day. But I like having the option, and for those moments when I need it, it's great to be able to quickly and seamlessly add one one. If you're a heavy tablet user and you want to expand the functionality of your device, I recommend Verbatim's keyboard wholeheartedly. But if you typing on the go every day, a traditional laptop is probably still the way to go.
This article is based on hardware provided by the manufacturer.