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Bluetooth Keyboard Video Smackdown

We already lists a ton of reasons why we like Windows Mobile, but let's add one more we forgot about: compatibility with a wide array of accessories, from A2DP stereo headphones (take that, iPhone!) to Bluetooth Keyboards (take it again! ha HA!). So to that end, we grabbed three of the most popular bluetooth keyboards and put them through their paces.

After the break - go take a look at our video smackdown of all three. Well, it's not so much a “smackdown,” but “smackdown” is pretty much the word we've been using instead of “comparison” lately so we kind of have to stick with it, otherwise the wrestlemania segment of our readership will throw a folding chair at us. ..Anyway, we'll also toss in quick mini-reviews and some photo galleries of these folding wonders. Read on!

iGo Stowaway ($99.95)

The 'classic' fold-out keyboard. You remember this puppy from your days with a Palm IIIx, don'tcha? Add in bluetooth and you have the same basic story here. We're not fond of the relatively flimsyness of the thing when it's folded out. The feel of the keys themselves is great - nice clackiness and travel without being too loud - but since the body as a whole is flimsy it only feels great on a desk. We are fans of the fact that this thing is a full keyboard - no compromises on size (except when folded up). Well - one compromise: the device stand is a separate piece that's a pain to set up and begs to get lost. (Driver Download)

iGo Ultraslim Stoawaway ($99.95)

This is the smallest keyboard of the bunch - both folded up and laid out. Small is generally good, though in this case it might go too far for some users. The ultraslim cuts out the number row at the top and is also not a 'full' keyboard. On the bright side, the ultraslim is the sturdiest of the three and comes with an integrated device stand. Key feel is good and typing is relatively quiet. I'll admit it feels a stitch cramped from time to time, but not too bad. If you can live without a number row, this is probably the keyboard for you. (Driver Download)

Freedom Universal Bluetooth $99.95

The Freedom Keyboard may likely be many's “just right” keyboard, in the Goldilocks vein. It's not the sturdiest (UltraSlim) or the smallest (UltraSlim), nor can it claim to be truly a “full sized keyboard) (Stowaway). On the other hand, it's a lot sturdier than the Stowaway and it sports a full, dedicated number row. Nerds will appreciate that it supports both SPP and HID (i.e. both BlackBerries and Windows Mobile). Non-nerds will appreciate that it has a relatively simple fold-out action. We like it quite a bit. (Driver Download)

Conclusion

So we like the UltraSlim the best of the bunch, but mainly because we're willing to forego that number row. Otherwise the next best is the Freedom. But if you just can't handle losing a half an inch on width and a quarter of it on height, well, then the full-sized Stowaway is pretty much your only option.

Really, we're pretty big fans of folding keyboards, we just wish that the drivers for them were a little more standardized. All three worked with our Motorola Q9h ”out of the box“ without any drivers ....except for the ”enter“ key. The enter key, it's kind of important, it turns out. So downloading drivers from the manufacturers is a must. Fortunately, the drivers work pretty well.

9 Comments
  • Thanks for that cool video look at those keyboards! I sure enjoyed it! I have the Stowaway and sure do agree about the flimsiness. It's very hard to use on your lap unless you have something flat underneath it. I also have the Palm Bluetooth Keyboard which looks pretty much identical to the Freedom Universal. That Ultraslim does look pretty nice, especially the sturdiness.
  • Great review. Too short though. A couple things that wern't covered.
    - how are these keyboard powered?
    - an actual demo on a device. My experience BT is the same but not equal with different devices.
    I personally use the Palm universal. Yeah, yeah it's not BT but it's a good keyboard with a dedicated number row. Keys are a bit small but useable and it is study enough for lap work. And ever since Palm made the "plunge" and offered WM devices they have to provide a driver.
    Anyways great review.
  • Thanks, Cherry. I actually need to put up an update, I guess the iGo is not only getting discontinued, but it's buggy with some WinMo 6 devices. Is there a particular keyboard you'd like me to come back to and do more in depth?
  • I'm using the iGo UltraSlim and it is powered by 2x AAA batteries. There is a window in the program settings to see the power status of those batteries too (very rough measurement).
    I haven't tried it on WM6 yet but will this weekend.
    So far: I'm *very* impressed with the iGo--it's fast, pairs instantly and is just fun to use. I'm quite sad to hear the drivers won't be updated anymore, though maybe they will keep up with WM since they are pretty "universal", so it appears.
    I can do a more in depth review if anyone wants...
  • I've gotten the Palm Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard to work with WM6 (Sprint Touch), without driver. (I can't get the driver to work unfortunately)
    The only tricky thing is the code entry when pairing. When the ppc asks for the code, enter a 4 digit code and hit next. Then immediately type the same 4 digit code on the keyboard followed by the enter key, and it should connect.
    All the keys seem to work, including the windows key. The programmable keys and fn keys don't work the way they do with a driver. On the Sprint Touch, Fn1 acts as the left softkey, Fn2 is the right softkey. The only "problem" I've encountered is that the space key fires on a keyup event, whereas every other key fires on keydown (which is normal). This means at the end of a word if you're typing really fast, the first letter of the next word may sneak through before the space key fires. Kind of annoying, but it works. And it means I don't have to scrap my keyboard after I replaced my Treo.
  • I heard earlier this week the igo is a nogo because of all the drivers for different devices, etc.
    I would love to know if it will work with a q9m. I may get one on closeout or something.
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  • This keyboard works great. It is strong enough to be used, although from a position of support to the thin and seems to break easily. I have encountered any problems in communication.