Today I’ll be taking a look at a product that is slightly different to what I usually review: a compact, wireless, foldable bluetooth keyboard – a bit of a contrast to the typical mechanical keyboards I love to test out.
iClever is a Chinese brand, known for producing pretty decent portable speakers, keyboards and miscellaneous peripherals for devices such as smartphones and tablets. The folding nature of this particular keyboard, whilst not new, is a relatively novel concept, which targets those who like to travel a lot and those who just prefer a wireless keyboard to the touchscreen keyboards we have all become accustomed to. Below are some of the specs of the keyboard:
- Tri-folding design in pocket size plus lightweight feature, convenient to carry anywhere; Ergonomic design brings better touch feeling
- Aluminum alloy texture, durable to use; Quite, low profile keys, comfortable typing experience
- Built-in Broadcom Bluetooth module, perfectly compatible with IOS, Android and Windows system
- Full auto power on/off and sleep mode design as well as built-in rechargeable lithium battery, energy-saving and long lifespan
- Up to 10 meters operating distance – can work or play in more places like your comfy couch, flexible to operate
As you can see it has quite a few decent features, ideal for portability!
The keyboard comes in small, relatively featureless brown box. Inside, you get a manual, feedback card, micro USB cable, microfibre case and of course the keyboard. The bag is a nice touch as it is something I would definitely use to store the keyboard.
The resulting keyboard has most of the buttons you would find on a typical laptop keyboard and has managed to shrink the footprint down to smaller sizes, by doubling up on the uses for each key. The iClever keyboard uses scissor switches, which give it a low profile and relatively silent operation.
Setup and Use
Pairing the keyboard with both Android and iOS devices is incredibly simple. I just had to open the keyboard, press Fn + C (turns on keyboard bluetooth pairing) and then search for the keyboard on either device – I happened to use an iPad Mini 3 and OnePlus 2 to test it out. It does say it has compatibility with Windows devices, but alas I had none at hand to test it with. You cannot pair to more than one device at a time, which is slightly annoying as I would like to be able to switch to my phone from my iPad.
Once paired, the keyboard displays a green LED. With the iPad mini, as soon as the keyboard was paired, the onscreen keyboard disappears allowing you to use the bluetooth keyboard instantly. If you fold the keyboard up, it unpairs and loads up the onscreen keyboard again – quite a nifty feature! On Android, you seem to have much more control over navigating: you can jump to the home screen, then scroll through the pages and then select the app you want. I couldn’t seem to do this on the iPad, although I think this is mostly due to the OS and what it allows external keyboards to do.
Typing on the keyboard is very similar to that on a scissor-switch keyboard like those found on the majority of laptops. They can be a pleasure to type on (I must admit, I do prefer scissor switches when I have a lot of typing ahead of me), although I did notice that I had to press firmly on the keys over the joints to get them to work.
It has very small footprint resulting in no Function keys. Instead these have been moved to the number row, that can be accessed by pressing the Fn key. Dual use keys have the alternative function in blue – fairly typically on most compact keyboards. The most useful functions have already been assigned to various keys for quick access. It is possible to switch between Windows, Android and iOS functions, although testing it out, I have yet to find any differences…
Having typed the majority of this review using this keyboard, it is nice to type on, although it does require quite a lot of time just getting used to the much smaller layout (it’s about 60% of a normal 104/105 key keyboard). Accuracy also improves after practice, however those pesky keys over the joints did result in me not pressing them hard enough for them to work. The battery life is decent, I’ve been using it for 6+ hours now and it still going on strong. The auto-off feature is great at saving battery.
With everything going touchscreen, it’s good to see some companies providing the more traditional input methods for typing on a keyboard. Typing large paragraphs on touchscreens is tiresome and can be very uncomfortable after only a short period of time.
Some may see it as counter intuitive, having a keyboard to type on when using a phone or tablet as it defeats the point of it being portable, however with the iClever compact keyboard, it folds down to a very small size, making it ideal for just throwing it in your bag. It is wireless, so no cables, and it has a decent battery life due to sleep mode and auto-off when you fold it down.
Performance-wise, the keyboard is just like that of a laptop although does require a significant amount of time to get used to the smaller layout and dual use buttons. It is problematic that the keys over the folds/joins require a firmer press, as this did result in many missed presses – not great if you have a lot to type in a short space of time such as when you’re on train.
Overall I have been very impressed with the portability and compact nature of the iClever BK03 keyboard. I like scissor-switch keyboards as I find them easy to do a lot of typing on, however the missed key presses from the E key was very frustrating. At the cost of ~£23, it’s a great price for what you’re getting and makes typing on tablets much easier.
I am happy to award iClever with the Play3r Silver award, for a decent and compact little keyboard that was great to type on. Big thanks to Hisgadget for supplying the keyboard.
- Great Compatibility
- Feature Rich
- Easy to setup
- Some buttons require firmer press