Friday, May 11, 2012

Hands On Review: The BlackBerry PlayBook Mini Keyboard with Convertible Case

Posted by Ray Nicolini

When I saw this keyboard case combination, I had to have it for my BlackBerry PlayBook. I had the convertible case, but was really looking forward to having a keyboard included. I’ve tried tiny keyboards and infrared keyboards but they have their limitations. My package finally arrived this week!
Don’t get me wrong, those other keyboards had their uses, but paled after awhile. The infrared keyboard is nice, but not in direct light or sunlight. The mini keyboard wasn’t as useful after the Bridge was updated to use as a keyboard with my BlackBerry.

I had ordered the case and couldn’t believe how fast it sold out. I saw it and felt it was the perfect companion for my BlackBerry PlayBook, that it would complete my BlackBerry and BlackBerry PlayBook.  I ordered my keyboard/case from the ShopCrackBerry where it was on sale, but the retail price of the Mini Keyboard is $119.99. It’s been weeks but the case finally came in a few days ago and I was so excited to open my package.

When I opened the package and took the box out, there was a classic BlackBerry box. The front shows has the BlackBerry PlayBook name with the Mini Keyboard with Convertible Case and states ultra portable design with integrated multi-touch keyboard. If you turn the box around it has three main keypoints.
  • Powerful multi-touch control – Use multi-touch trackpad and special keys to navigate and control BlackBerry PlayBook.
  • Portable productivity – Two products in one – keyboard and touchpad, with a convertible case
  • Powered and ready when you need it – Charge your keyboard and PlayBook with the same charger.
Other stats include: Compatible with devices supporting Bluetooth HID profile. Batter life – up to 30 days, and format is QWERTY.

The case appears similar to the convertible case that came out at the same time as the BlackBerry PlayBook. The keyboard is very thin. Opening the case and removing the plastic off the keyboard I place it easily into the case, and it’s held in place by the little stretchy straps that hold the corners. The PlayBook fits easily into the top of the case, as it did with the other convertible case. There’s an opening for the headphones or aux port. Using the volume and the power with the case is so much easier. The bottom is left open for access to the ports when the case is open flat. The first thing I do is charge the keyboard to be sure it’s powered and ready.
like that I can use my rapid charger I purchased for my BlackBerry PlayBook and use the charger that came with my BlackBerry PlayBook on the keyboard. After letting the device charge for a while, I turn it on using the power button. I woke up my BlackBerry PlayBook and sliding down I chose Bluetooth. I press the button Add New Device. When the BlackBerry PlayBook finds the keyboard, you choose the device,  it displays a code to pair. I typed it into the keyboard and it was paired just like that.
I type so much faster on a regular keyboard for a pc or laptop. This is considerably smaller, but perfectly compact and suited for the PlayBook. The keyboard/case includes a card with pairing instructions and on the opposite side a diagram of the keyboard with the major keys highlighted and a description for them.  The keyboard takes a bit to get used to at first because it is slightly smaller, but after using it for a while, you find yourself using it quite easily. The trackpad is nice and works very well and you can still use the touchscreen too.
There are many pros to this keyboard and case combo. I love being able to type and have the entire screen of the BlackBerry PlayBook at my view. The trackpad is very responsive, the typing on it is very easy to use. The QWERTY keyboard is familiar and right at your fingertips and as you get used to the size and placement, it’s memory to your fingertips.
The only con I find about the keyboard is that it’s so shiny that it’s easy to get fingerprint smudges on, so you may just want to have a wipe with you. It’s an absolutely sleek keyboard that compliments the BlackBerry PlayBook. The case offers protection for the PlayBook, houses both the PlayBook and the mini keyboard, and when you need to take this portable combo on the go, you close the case, and there’s an elastic strap that you put over the other side and it closes it keeping them protected and making it as small and portable as a diary.
If you’re looking for that missing companion for your BlackBerry PlayBook, are looking to be more efficiently mobile, and  feel more resourceful, then this case is the case for you and your PlayBook. If you have the case, let me know what you think, but I can tell you that I absolutely love the keyboard and the case, and love the portability. I love the size of my BlackBerry PlayBook and finding a case and keyboard that compliment it just makes it complete, it’s not just an accessory, it’s the perfect companion. Big surprises really do come in small packages. I can’t thank BlackBerry enough for such great devices or CrackBerry for taking orders and shipping them when they came in.
Just a tip for those who purchased the keyboard/case, if you find you’re not finding it convenient, or not liking the keys, please give yourself a few hours to type on it, a few days to take it with you and type and browse, and you’ll find the keyboard becomes just as easy to get used to as the virtual keyboard on the BlackBerry PlayBook. And while one size doesn’t always fit all, at least give yourself some time to adapt before shutting the case.

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