iPhone Keyboard Review: Concord Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard for iPhone 4S Reviewed by Tong Zhang
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4
What's Hot: Comes with a case to hold the phone while typing, good keyboard action and key size, Bluetooth works well.
What's Not: No backlight, the Space key is off the center.
We've looked at portable Bluetooth keyboards for phones and tablets before, but the Concord Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard has a unique design that stands out from the pack. Though the Bluetooth keyboard works with any smartphone or tablet with Bluetooth HID support, iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 users have an edge over others thanks to the design. The keyboard includes an iPhone 4/4S case that slides open to reveal the keyboard. You can leave your iPhone 4S in the case while not using the keyboard, just close the slider.
The Keystone ECO Slider keyboard is designed for iPhone 4S users who prefer a physical keyboard over the on-screen keyboard to type messages, notes and emails. The built-in iPhone 4/4S case fits the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S perfectly. The case is also very functional with cutouts on the side for the silence button (works for both iPhone 4 on AT&T and Verizon versions), and volume buttons. The case's top and bottom ends are mostly open, only covering the corners, leaving ports and buttons open for easy access. There is also a camera cutout on the back through the case layer as well as the keyboard layer for the rear camera and flash. The slider seems solid and sliding action is quite smooth.
The Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard is a full QWERTY keyboard with a dedicated number row and iPhone control keys including a dedicated Home screen key and on-screen keyboard launch fn key. The keyboard also has shared search/web browser launcher key, and multimedia play/pause/stop, fast forward, rewind keys and screen brightness controls and more. These keys work perfectly with an iPhone 4S and save you having to use the touch screen or go through several steps to perform these tasks. We tested the keyboard in many apps and it worked well in all of them.
The Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard has mostly standard layout, and key size is good for a small keyboard. There are directional keys that are also very convenient and save you from using the touch screen unnecessarily. The dedicated number row will please many users though some Fn keys have odd placements. There is only one Shift key (on the left) which is understandable for a small keyboard like this. The keys have nice tactile feedback as well as a low "click" sound. They are easy to press and feel sturdy when pressed. The Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard has a power button, a Pairing button and a charging port on the side.
Two obstacles prevent this keyboard from being a perfect mobile keyboard for the iPhone 4S. The space key isn't centered, rather lives on the right side just a couple of spaces off the center. It will take you a while to get used to the location, but in the mean time you will make plenty of mistakes thanks to the misplacement. Another feature that's lacking is backlight. Without a backlight, the keyboard isn't very easy to use in dimly lit environments especially those blue Fn keys that are very hard to see on a black keyboard.
Bluetooth and Battery
The Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard has Bluetooth 3.0 and works with devices with Bluetooth HID profile. Pairing is automatic, turn on the power and slide open the keyboard, it will get into pairing mode automatically. There are three LED lights on the left side of the keyboard indicating battery/charging status, Bluetooth pairing mode and power on/off. Use your iPhone 4S to search and connect with the keyboard when the Bluetooth pairing light is on, type in the passcode indicated on your iPhone 4 to connect with the keyboard. For subsequent pairing, press the side pairing button with a paperclip until the pairing light turns on.
The Keystone ECO Slider comes with a built-in Lithium-Ion battery that's 200 mA in capacity. It comes with a retractable USB cable for charging the keyboard and takes about 2-2.5 hours to fully charge via USB. The keyboard has about 30 hours of working time. When you are done typing, be sure to turn it off using the power slider on the side to conserve battery power.
The design makes the Keystone ECO Slider Bluetooth Keyboard an ideal keyboard for the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. It offers you a full QWERTY keyboard access and a case to hold the phone while you are typing. Although it adds some bulk to your phone, for those who constantly type messages but can't live with the on-screen keyboard, this is a small price to pay. The keyboard feels well built and the battery life is good. Bluetooth works well, and keys have normal placement but space bar is off center. We wish that the keyboard offered backlighting since there is a built-in battery.