Product Review – Portable Keyboards

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Today’s post is a review of a couple keyboards that have helped us make great use of our digital toys and tools.

In the last year we have entered the iWorld, with an iPad last Christmas (2012) and an iPhone last summer (2013).  I was really surprised at how much we liked them!  The iPad is really handy for checking email or the internet from the couch or kitchen table.  We also use it for dance parties, whether using iTunes or YouTube.  However, its main drawback for me was that I could not type very well using the on-screen keyboard.  That really limited it to an internet and entertainment machine.  But then we found the Zagg keyboard/case.

iPad Keyboard: Link Here

We have used this product for over a year now, and we really like it.  The case does a good job of protecting the iPad, but it is still pretty slim and easy to carry.  Then when you unsnap and unfold it you basically have a small laptop.  This has allowed us to do a lot more useful work with it, including writing blog posts!  We bought the Notes app, which allows us to write documents on the iPad and then email them to our PC in Word or PDF format.  This allowed Dana to write while we were traveling, or for me to take notes at meetings, and in general made it easier to write anything, anywhere.  It has a battery that you charge through a USB connection, and the charge lasts an inconceivably long time. I believe that I have charged it twice in the 15 months we have had it!  The keyboard cost $100 when we bought it, which was ridiculous, but it has actually been worth that to us.

Cons:  The only con is that the latching mechanism is sometimes hard to unsnap.

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iPhone Keyboard: Link Here

Last summer I graduated from the world of old-school Blackberry to the cool-kid iPhone.  It is a wonderful little productivity tool, and the auto-correct is inconceivably good.  (And yes, that word means what I think it means.)  However, I still was not able to take notes on it very well or type up documents very quickly.  (I actually use the Siri voice-recognition software that is built into the phone to ‘type’ notes to myself using the Notes app, and then email it to myself so that it is all typed up and ready, but that is only good for certain situations.)  I looked at several keyboard options, and I could actually pair the Zagg keyboard with the iPhone if I wanted, but I still, hadn’t found, what I was looking for.  And then I went to ye-olde Microcenter and found this little gem:  the Neptor Bluetooth Keyboard.

This keyboard is the best of both worlds.  It folds in half to be quite compact…small enough to fit in my suit coat pocket or the pocket of my dead tree portfolio.  But it unfolds to make a keyboard that is big enough for me to use quite accurately.  (Disclosure:  I have skinny, long fingers, which is to my advantage.)  I spend a lot of my day in meetings, and so I used to take pen and paper notes that I would then transcribe when I got back to my office.  I have slowly changed my practice so that for most meetings I take notes using the keyboard and iPhone using the Notes application.  Then at the end of the meeting I just email it to myself, and the notes are done and ready.  I love it.

Cons:  The B key is on the right side of the fold instead of the left, (inconceivable) so I make typos when trying to type words that contain the letter B.  The hinge feels a little flimsy, so I am afraid I will snap it in half sometime.  It has lasted over 6 months, so I think this is a perception rather than a real risk.  It is still not ‘normal’ to take notes on a computer or iPhone yet, so I sometimes feel self-conscious.  (Actually though, most people are envious, deep down.)  All in all though, the cons are very manageable.

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What ‘must-have’ apps or accessories do you want to brag about?  Please share – I’m always looking for new toys…I mean, tools!

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