Tech Blog

BlackBerry Mini Keyboard with Convertible Case for PlayBook review

by Blogger ‎04-07-2012 07:09 AM - edited ‎04-09-2012 04:06 AM

R1058743.jpg

 

RIM's Mini Keyboard with Convertible Case is actually two products. A standalone Bluetooth Mini Keyboard and a Convertible Case designed to hold both the PlayBook and the keyboard while on the go. Freeing up limited screen real estate and giving users a better QWERTY keyboard typing experience (plus a trackpad) the Mini Keyboard will be a popular add on to input oriented PlayBook users.

 

The Convertible Case, not so much.

 

As an avid PlayBook user who finds the 7-inch tablet's size just right for rides on the train or for checking  on-the-go email, Twitter feeds and the latest newspaper issues using the PressReader app, the prospect of making my device more useful with a keyboard was certainly attractive.

R1058744.jpg

 

I do attend a lot of meetings and find I prefer to type than write down notes. Being able to do so with a proper QWERTY keyboard is far better than having to duel with the software keyboard which for me is a common problem with many touchscreens and tablets, specially when the autocorrect feature thinks it knows better and substitutes unrelated words as you are typing.

 

A well designed keyboard plus case would help the PlayBook become a better tool specially for RIM's core business users.

 

Out of the Box and Set up

 

R1058746.jpg

 

The BlackBerry Convertible Case for the PlayBook, which is the leatherette case that incorporates a rubber case that fits around the PlayBook and which also serves as a stand.

 

It is easy enough to fit in the PlayBook into the Convertible Case which feels like a high quality product in itself although the fit in our prototype was a bit off (the part that connects to the PlayBook's power button and volume keys did not fit right).

 

R1058739.jpg

The Mini Keyboard itself is a nice piece of hardware. Built from hard matte plastic, it feels solid yet lightweight and it can be used independently from the Convertible Case, which is great since there are many PlayBook cases out there that are better than the Convertible Case that ships with the keyboard. 

 

R1058740.jpg

 

This is clearly a well designed and developed piece of hardware. It is evident that RIM put a lot of effort into the design and construction of the Mini Keyboard as it did with the PlayBook which is arguably one of the most solid tablets in the market today, at least in terms of build quality.

 

R1058742.jpg

Connecting the Mini Keyboard is simple and straightforward. The PlayBook's Bluetooth radio will pick it up right away and once you key in a generated code, you're good to go.

 

Typing and Performance

 

Typing on the Mini Keyboard will require some adjustment from users. This isn't a full sized keyboard after all and seems to be better suited to two-finger pecking specially for users with larger fingers.

 

It is a much better typing experience than using the on screen keyboard on the PlayBook and it is actually nice to have all that screen real estate.

 

The Mini Keyboard's trackpad, is simply fantastic and even includes right and left mouse click capability. While it is easy enough to use your finger on the screen at any given time, having a trackpad with a keyboard feels more natural and is generally more precise. 

 

R1058745.jpg

 

While the Mini Keyboard is quite good, the Convertible Case as a stand doesn't really work well.

 

The convertible case doesn't seem to be sturdy enough to support the screen and even on a flat surface sometimes collapses without warning. I had a tough time keeping the screen part (which is the PlayBook) up while typing as the small stand that props it up kept folding. I found myself wincing each time the PlayBook plopped helplessly beneath the clumsy stand.

 

If I were to buy my own Mini Keyboard for the PlayBook, I would use it with a different case, one that does a better job of keeping the PlayBook angled properly and upright and one that can be used on my lap for those times when a flat surface isn't available.

 

Having a PlayBook and Mini Keyboard combination is nice. It is like using a netbook with a touchscreen and one that can be freed from case and keyboard when not in use.

 

Anyone thinking of getting this accessory should try it out  first and see if the keyboard is something they can work with before investing the $119 that the combo costs.

 

 

Photos by Gadjo C. Sevilla

Comments
by Exalted Expert / Community Ambassador ‎04-07-2012 07:31 AM - edited ‎04-07-2012 07:33 AM

I've had the keyboard since it was launched a few weeks ago....

  • love the mini stand.  When new, the stand leg doesn't stretch out far enough.  Over time it stretches to the perfect angle.
  • biggest complaint is the key placement.  It's not diagonal like a regular keyboard.  I keep getting the wrong letters.  This needs to change for the next version.
  • it's hard to get the Playbook in and out.  But I like the option to detach the keyboard when I want portability.
  • trackpad has come in handy.  Especially trackpad gestures.

•Mouse left-click: Using one finger, tap the touchpad.
•Mouse right-click: Using two fingers, simultaneously tap the touchpad.
•Mouse scroll: Using two fingers slide your fingers up or down on the touchpad to scroll up or down on a page.
•Switch between open apps: Move the mouse pointer to the right or left edge of the screen (the pointer changes to one of the Switch App Right or Switch App Left icons), then right-click. Repeat to switch to the app you want.
•Open the Home screen to select apps: Move the mouse pointer to the bottom of the screen (the pointer changes to the Home Screen Minimize icon), then right-click. The home screen appears where you can switch to another app.
•Show the status bar: Move the mouse pointer to the top-left or top-right of the screen (the pointer changes to the Show Status Bar Right or Show Status Bar Left icons), then right-click.
•Show the menu: Move the mouse pointer to the top of the screen (the pointer changes to the Show Menu icon), then right-click.
•Open the virtual keyboard: Move the mouse pointer to the bottom-left corner of the screen (the pointer changes to the Show Keyboard icon), then right-click.
•Move between pictures: Tap a picture with one finger, and then hold your finger on the picture and swipe to move to the next picture.

© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use.