Bluetooth Keyboard Review: iTablet Thumb Keyboard for iPhone 4 and Tablets Reviewed by Tong Zhang
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Works with most Bluetooth devices, has a touchpad and mouse keys, good battery life.
What's Not: Punctuation keys, Back and Delete keys require Fn.
Is it possible to cram a full sized keyboard into a 5.9 x 3.5-inch thumb keyboard and make it work well with your phones or tablets? iTablet thinks so. Their iTablet Thumb Keyboard has an ergonomic form, a QWERTY keyboard, a touchpad and backlight; and it has built-in Bluetooth that works with almost anything with Bluetooth HID support including mobile phones, Windows/Android/iOS tablets, PS3 and IPTVs. The iTablet Thumb Keyboard is easy to pair and has a long lasting battery. The only question is: will you get used to the small keyboard with many functions combined into a limited number of keys.
The iTablet Thumb Keyboard has a very ergonomic design that lets you hold the keyboard like a gaming controller. The keyboard has Chiclet style keys that have good spacing and tactile feedback. The size of the keyboard is good for those with large or medium sized hands, but if your hands are on the smaller side you might have to stretch out a bit to type fluently or pop up the rear feet and touch type. The 4-row keyboard has a standard alpha-numeric layout with the ?Enter? key on the right, the only alternative placement is the ?Space? key which isn?t in the center like a standard P/S2 keyboard but on the right side next to the ?Enter? key.
The iTablet Thumb Keyboard puts all other function keys elsewhere on the thumb keyboard: the Shift key is the right shoulder button, and Ctrl key is the left shoulder button; the Caps key and the left mouse button live on the top left corner above the keyboard, and the Fn key and right mouse button live the top right; the Alt key/Backlight key sits on the left side of the keyboard and the Bluetooth button on the right. The back of the keyboard does double duty as touchpad that works with tablets and computers, also house the keyboard?s power button, the touchpad on/off button and two small feet that can prop the keyboard up in a angle for touch typing.
To help you understand what the keyboard is doing, the iTablet Thumb Keyboard has four LED lights above the keyboard, and they indicate Fn key on/off, power, touchpad on/off and Bluetooth status. The keyboard feels light in hand, weighing 3.4 oz., and you should have no trouble using it for a long period time.
Features and Functions
As any BlackBerry user will tell you that typing on a thumb keyboard requires completely different kind of muscle memory than typing with your hands; couple that with key position shifting and turning normal keys into function keys, it will take you some intensive typing sessions before you can fly on the iTablet Thumb keyboard. That said it can be done with some practice - I typed most of this review on the thumb keyboard. And long time BlackBerry users might indeed find this keyboard useful when they need to do a lot of typing on a tablet like the BlackBerry PlayBook.
While the Chiclet keys have nice travel and are very easy to use, the locations of some of the keys will throw you off in the beginning. It?s logical to combine two keys into one on a small keyboard, but in real life, it takes quite a bit of time to get used to hunting for punctuation keys on your normal letter keys. But that?s not the hardest part to get used to, the hardest part is grouping ?Backspace? and ?Delete? keys into Fn keys. This means you have to remember to hit the ?Fn? keyboard before hitting the Backspace key, then remember to hit the ?Fn? key again to get out before using the non-Fn keys. This takes a lot of time and practice to make it into a second nature, if you can at all. The Space key isn?t centered, which takes some getting used to, but it?s not too bad.
Since the keyboard isn?t designed to work with a specific OS, the iTablet Thumb Keyboard doesn?t have keys like Mac-specific ?Command? key nor the Tab key or the ?F-1-12? keys. That?s the price you pay for a small portable size. Use the Alt/Backlight key to turn on the dim but effective white backlight. The iTablet Thumb Keyboard works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7, Mac OS X, Android 2.2 and newer, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, Sony PS3 and more.
The iTablet Thumb Keyboard has built-in Bluetooth 2.0 with Bluetooth HID 1.0 profile, and paired with computers, phones and PS3 easily in our test. To pair the keyboard, press and hold the Bluetooth button the right side until the Bluetooth LED flashes blue, use your computer or device to find and pair with the keyboard. While the keyboard keys and function keys worked with all devices we tried, the touchpad however only worked with computers and Android Honeycomb tablets, not phones or the iPad 2 running iOS. You use the rear touchpad and the mouse keys just like you would with the real things, and they are responsive when they find a partner that they work with.
The iTablet Thumb Keyboard has a built-in rechargeable battery that?s 4.2V 400mAh in capacity. You can charge it using the included USB cable, and it takes about 1.5 hours to fully charge the keyboard via computer. You can continue to use the keyboard while it?s charging, and the red LED light will turn off when the keyboard is fully charged. The keyboard?s battery lasts quite a long time, a week at least with normal use, and if you remember to turn off the keyboard when you are not using it, it will last you much longer. When you turn the keyboard back on, it will find its last pairing partner.
With more and more touch screen devices on the market, to have a small keyboard that you can put in your pocket or a small pouch to take on the road certainly can please those who like to type on a physical keyboard rather than on a virtual one. The iTablet Thumb Keyboard has great ergonomics, and it?s small and light. The keyboard has mostly normal layout with some quirks to get used to. It works with just about anything with the Bluetooth HID profile, and the built-in touchpad works with many devices for the added bonus. You will like this keyboard as long as you can get over the punctuation keys, Back and Delete keys as Fn keys.