Portable keyboards are an essential accessory for any gadget lover. If you have a PDA or Smartphone, you would probably be familiar with the feeling of not being able to maximize the use of your device because the input method is too slow or cumbersome. Touch screens do have their advantage, but when it comes to typing, nothing beats a real keyboard, no matter how small.
Many gadget makers sell a portable keyboard alongside their main products as an add-on or accessory. However, don’t be limited by these offerings, as there are also a lot of third-party brands that offer functional, affordable and useful portable keyboards for a wide variety of mobile phones and PDAs.
If you’re in the market for a portable keyboard, don’t just go for the first offer you see online. There is much more to shopping for portable keyboards than meets the eye. Here is a short guide on shopping for portable keyboards.
Compatibility and connectivity. Earlier generations of portable keyboards connected with the main gadget through proprietary connections. For instance, Palm keyboards would only be compatible with Palm devices. Not only this, some of these keyboards would only support certain models from within the brand’s lineup. Modern portable keyboards would often interface with the Smartphone or PDA using a more open form of communication, such as Bluetooth or USB. This way, the keyboard can support a much larger set of devices, and you would no longer have to worry about being tethered with wires and cables. Bluetooth connectivity makes a portable keyboard compatible with more devices, and without the clutter of wires.
Portable keyboards come in a range of shapes and sizes. Many of these fold into a clamshell form factor for easy storage and carrying. Some slide in and out to reveal the full set of keys. Some also have a stand on which you can prop up your small gadget. This way, you can view the screen more comfortably, as if it were a laptop screen.
Reviews. Don’t go out buying any electronics device without first reading reviews online. Some notable gadget review sites include epinions.com, Amazon.com and Cnet (reviews.cnet.com). These sites have both editor and reader reviews, so you can see first if a product is worth buying, or if you expect to encounter problems while using it.
Future-proofing. Remember that when buying a portable keyboard, it’s also important that you future-proof your purchase. This means that the keyboard you buy today should still be compatible with any portable device you might decide on purchasing in the near future. Here lies the importance of buying something that supports standards like Bluetooth, USB and even WiFi for connecting.
Portable keyboards are an essential tool if you plan to do a lot of typing when on the go. You can work on documents, emails and even presentations with more ease, than if you were to simply use an onscreen keyboard, or a small telephone keypad. When shopping for a portable keyboard, be aware of your needs and the features of your planned purchase.