iPad Accessories Series: Portable Bluetooth Keyboard Roundup

17 Comments

My recent account of mobile blogging on the iPad with a portable keyboard touched a vein, and I have been flooded with requests for information about other keyboards that will work with the iPad (s aapl). I have used portable keyboards with UMPCs and other devices for a long time and they can definitely turn a mobile device into a full workstation. These questions sent me on a quest for keyboard options for use with the iPad, since the older Stowaway model I am using is no longer available. I didn’t think I would find many options, but found a few that might interest those looking for one to use with the iPad.

Apple Wireless Keyboard. Apple is touting its wireless keyboard for use with the iPad, and reports are it works well. It is fairly small and fits in most gear bags, but it is not the smallest option on this list. $69.

Apple iPad Keyboard Dock. This is a dock and keyboard all in one, and is designed for the iPad. It is a bit bulky to carry while mobile, but some are doing that and loving it. $69.

iGo Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard. This keyboard is no longer made by iGo, but is still available in quantities online. The iGo keyboard folds up to a pocketable size, yet opens to a full-sized keyboard that works with PDAs, smartphones and PCs. The small size is due to the lack of a number key row, which some will not like. It works well with the iPad. Around $150.

Freedom Portable Keyboard. The Freedom is a Bluetooth keyboard that folds in half for transport in a small form. $80.

Palm Wireless Keyboard. Palm made a keyboard for use with the Treo, and it is still sold online. The Palm keyboard is a portable keyboard that works with Windows PCs, so it should work with the iPad. $66.

Fentek Portable Keyboard. Not much is known about this keyboard but there are both Windows and Mac key layouts available. It’s not the smallest keyboard but it folds in half for transport. $95.

These are by no means the only portable keyboards available, but the list is a good place to get started when looking for a wireless keyboard. These keyboards should work with any computer as well as the iPad, but there are no guarantees.

Don’t miss the other installments in the iPad Accessories Series:

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Hot Topic: Apple’s iPad

17 Comments

Jeffrey Austin White

I discovered an awesome laser projection keyboard that works with Android Phones. It is manufactured by Celluon and is called the CL850. The CL850 Bluetooth Keyboard driver is available on the Android Market for download just in time for the holidays.

JDK

I have the bluetooth keyboard and wasn’t able to pair it with my iPad. It was discovered (Thinkoutside Bluetooth keyboard) but it wouldn’t pair. Didn’t look for the code, just wouldn’t pair.
Anyone have a thought?

POLITO

@JDK If the iPad sees the Thinkoutside Bluetooth keyboard, you should be able to tap Pair and it should tell you to enter a specific number to set up the keyboard. You might need to make sure you hold down CTRL+Blue FN+Green FN like it says on the back of the keyboard to connect. Hold it down and the green LED light above the letter T should blink. Then just make sure you use the Blue FN key as you enter the numbers on the keyboard otherwise you’re not sending the number but the letter on the keys. Hope that helps.

What Haveyou

Don’t forget that the Apple Bluetooth keyboard (like their laptop keyboards) doesn’t have a real Delete key. It has only a Backspace key that is mislabeled “Delete.” An irritating pain in the ass.

Phil Lee

On Sunday I hit the BIN button on a refurbished iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth keyboard for the princely sum of £34.99 inc P&P ($53.73). It arrived this morning and looks much better than the Freedom Pro I bought and returned from Amazon.

The iGo needed a little cleanup (damn sticky labels) but it looks to be a winner. It’s very small, much smaller than the Freedom Pro and therefore that much more portable. The lack of dedicated number keys is a compromise I’m willing to make when it comes down to portability.

It paired with my work Windows 7 PC, It also paired with my MacBook Pro with no problem. I’ve already reported I had real problems pairing the Freedom Pro with my MacBook Pro. Now all I have to do is wait until the end of May when I’ll have an iPad to pair with it too :)

johnkzin

The Fentek looks pretty much idential to the Mathias folding keyboards (which come in both USB and Bluetooth).

El Marko

What’s the takeaway, from this article? That there’s a pretty big and un-met market, for good bluetooth keyboards for use by any bluetooth device. We’ve got 2 keyboards here that are no longer manufactured (the devices for which they were created are now practically extinct), 1 device that’s specific only to the iPad and – wow! – have you read the reviews on Amazon for the Freedom Portable Keyboard? Not pretty.

I get daily and very good use out of my iGo keyboard. However, all the Palm OS-specific keyboard labeling does make me sad, from time to time. ‘Reminds me of the 10-year old operating system for the Palm, which is (in so many ways) a superior PIM OS to the Symbian running on my Nokia E71.

. . . but, as I say, the iGo works great.

tivoboy

the stowaway fold up keyboards ALSO work, and offer much nicer tactile feel than the mini igo does, also available online and through re-sellers, but yes out of production at the moment.

Phil Lee

After reading this article I ordered a Freedom Pro from amazon.co.uk. It should be arriving early next week although I’ll have to wait a month to get the iPad to go with it. I figured I’d get in early in case there’s a run on them when the iPad is released here.

Dennisvjames

A couple more thoughts…I have the Apple Bluetooth keyboard and I do like it but it’s BIG for a portable keyboard (ty the way there’s a software update for it). I have the iGo and it’s not bad but rickety – I have a couple of rubber bits that I put under the sides to keep it steady. If the Palm bluetooth is steady I will probably buy that. I have an original think outside the box metal keyboard that I loved but it only works with Palm. I wish I got one of the universal one’s when they were out.

Dennisvjames

Which stowaway model do you have. Was it the metal one?

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