I’m a keyboard lover, and abuser. Due to the sheer volume of writing I do in a year, I tend to burn through at least two PC keyboards a year – and I’m incredibly picky about my keyboards. There’s a specific amount of tactile feedback and click response I require, and if a keyboard can’t provide it, into the trash it goes. Lately, I’ve been testing a multitude of iPad keyboards as I slowly migrate off of my laptop (and its absolutely wonderful “island key” keyboard… p.s. I love you, Toshiba!). There are a lot of “mobile” keyboards in my office these days, and they’ve all had (ab)use heaped upon them, and recently, I looked at Verbatim’s Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard.
While not the best keyboard around, the Mobile Keyboard actually does have some positives in its favor, the first part being the near normal-size of the keyboard. When unfolded, it’s just a bit over 12″ wide, which means you should be able to get a near full-size keyboard. This is good for folks with mid-to-large-sized hands, such as myself.
The keys themselves are pretty large, and there’s an included “media console”, which is a nice way of saying it comes with a row of extra buttons to control music and movies. There’s the typical pause/play, volume up/down/mute and Skip Fwd/Back buttons, to make your movie watching and music listening easier to manage while your furiously type away on this keyboard. The keyboard also folds up, making it nice and portable – for the most part – and it comes with a handy little carrying case. I can’t say I’m a fan of the faux-leather appearance of the case, but that’s a tiny personal nitpick.
With these positives out of the way, it’s time to get down to brass tacks, aka, “Why this keyboard drives me nuts”. First off, in an era of USB charging, this beastie uses AAA batteries. Seriously? Sure, it has a battery indicator light to let you know when the batteries are low, but still, AAA? Then there’s the hinge which, when the keyboard is unfolded, causes the keyboard to have a sort of hump in the middle. Plus, you have a hinge-lock slider, which makes this feel like it was designed 10 years ago. Oh, and God help you if you forget to unlock it before you try to fold it up in a hurry, you’re just asking for an instant break. Bluetooth pairing works, but instead of a simple pairing button, this keyboard requires that you break out a good ol’ paperclip to push the tiny little indented Bluetooth button.
Now for the important part, how is it actually for typing? Personally, I find it to be pretty painful. First off, there’s no real feedback when you hit a key as every keys feels like it’s sat on sponge. If you’re a touch-typist like me who relies on both audible feedback (that “click” of a key well-struck) and tactile feedback (the key really sinking down, then bouncing back when struck), you’re out of luck here. It just feels like mush and has almost no sound at all. Couple that with weird key size choices, and you can easily imagine plenty of frustrated touch typists.
I typically can exceed 80 Words Per Minute with 100% accuracy on a PC keyboard, and 70 WPM with my current favorite iPad keyboard, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio. With Verbatim’s Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard, I was struggling to maintain 40 WPM with 100% accuracy. All too often, though, I fumbled for the right SHIFT key, or TAB, or some other nearly microscopic key, promptly missed it, and had to back up to correct the error caused by the key I did end up hitting.
Verbatim’s Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard isn’t a total disaster. It is incredibly portable, and gets the job done for the non-touch-typists out there. If you’re already used to hunting and pecking and two-finger typing, you probably will be just fine with this keyboard. But for those used to burning through pages of documents quickly, this one just won’t cut it.
Final Score: 2.5/5