One of the pleasant surprises I found when I first started checking out the BlackBerry Playbook was the fact that it is a fantastic blogging tool. Unlike the iPad, which continues to fall short in the mobile blogging department, the PlayBook is a complete blogging system that works beautifully. The rear camera is surprisingly good, and the file management allows you to upload images to the web just the way you would from a full traditional computer. Sadly it is one of the only pleasant surprises since, weeks later, there are still little to no useful apps for the PlayBook.
The only problem I have run into is the fact that while the on-screen keyboard is excellent, the small size of the screen makes it less pleasant to type on than a device such as the iPad. In fact, while I PREFER typing directly on the iPad’s screen to using a separate keyboard, the smaller PlayBook begs for a keyboard if you are typing more than a few sentences. That’s where the Verbatim Wireless Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard comes in quite handy.
Here’s a look at this useful tablet accessory.
On the go, looking for a quick and easy way to compose e-mail and other documents with your iPad/iPhone? The Verbatim Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard is your answer. Designed to work with your Bluetooth-enabled iPad/iPhone this keyboard features an ultra-compact design that folds for maximum portability and easy storage in the included carrying case. The iPad/iPhone keyboard has a built-in media console allowing you to play, pause and control your iTunes with the touch of a button. An iPhone stand, also included, allows you even greater freedom and mobility.
Ultra-Compact Design– Thin-profile keyboard folds and stores in carrying case for maximum portability
Bluetooth Wireless– Designed to work with your Bluetooth-enabled iPad/iPhone (iOS 4 or higher)
Media Console– Play, pause and control your digital music with the touch of a button
Extras– A carrying case for the keyboard and iPhone stand are also included, providing even greater freedom and mobility
The first trick the keyboard offers is the fact that it folds up so it takes half the size when not being used. The design also protects the keys and keeps them from collecting dust. The inclusion of a nice leather (or incredibly leather-like) case is a welcome addition, as is the included iPhone stand that stows away right in the keyboard itself.
This image of the keyboard sitting on top of the PlayBook will give you an idea of the size. It isn’t tiny, but it is small enough to keep in your gear bag all the time.
When you open the keyboard up you are greeted with a nicely sized keyboard with decent proportions.
Thin-profile keyboard folds and stores in carrying case for maximum portability.
Closed size: 6.25″ L x 4″ W. Open Size: 12.5″ L x 4″ W.
Compatible with iPad/iPhone (iOS 4 or higher)
Keyboard Carrying Case and iPhone Stand included
Not only are the key well-sized, but the keyboard has a host of controls on the left hand side that include, among other things, volume controls. Unfortunately while the controls work with iOS devices such as the iPad, they do not work with the PlayBook. I suspect this is a BlackBerry issue, and the BT stack does not handle such things, but it is still a disappointment. I just need to keep reminding myself that the iPhone’s initial BT didn’t do anything but let you use a headset.
Next to the music controls are the on/off toggle and a recessed pairing button. The hole for the button is a bit too small and required my hunting down a paperclip. That was annoying. More annoying was the fact that I needed to hunt down said paperclip more than once. Yes, I also found that the device does not seem to support multi-point — which means that you need to pair each device individually, and if you move from one to the other you need to repair each time you return. It is a pain, but it is not a deal breaker.
This is what the setup looks like when the keyboard is used with the PlayBook and the Wave Cradle I bought last week. (A closer look is on the way.) It makes for a great little mobile computing system, and I can see using it when I want to write a quick blog post on the fly.
In all I found that the keyboard was somewhere between good and very good. The keys have enough play but not too much to be uncomfortable. The keys have strong springs and come back to position quickly. I cannot imagine these keys not holding up for a fair amount of time under medium to high use. The keys do make some noise but it is less noise than I have encountered with other mobile keyboards. Remember, this is a mobile keyboard so it is not going to come close to what you use with your desktop or the keyboard on your laptop. Still, if you are on the go and don’t like using a virtual keyboard on your device’s screen, then I think you will be quite pleased with this Bluetooth keyboard.
There was, however, one issue that I am not sure I could ever become fully comfortable with. That issue??
I HATE the split space bar and would have much preferred to have a slightly large one on just one side or the other. It may seem like a small complaint, but it has been really bugging me. Don’t get me wrong — I’ll use this keyboard with the PlayBook, but I expect to be cursing the split space bar the entire time.
You can buy the keyboard directly from Verbatim’s Website but it is outrageously priced at over $100. Fortunately, you can buy it through our New Gear Daily affiliate store for $55.83. Verbatim 97537 Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard for iPad, iPad2 and iPhone(Piano Black)
What I Like: Folds in half for easy transport; includes nice extras like a protective case; music controls if using an iOS device; decent-sized keys with a good feel (as far as mobile keyboards go)
What Needs Improvement: Does not seem to have multi-point Bluetooth connectivity; pairing button is too small and recessed; split space bar is horrid!