I’m a fairly fast typer on my iphone, so debated for a while as to whether I wanted to get a bluetooth keyboard to carry around. However, there are certain times when I don’t want to have to lug my laptop around, but don’t want to try typing a huge long email on the onscreen keyboard… but might still have my rucksack into which I can just leave a small folding bluetooth keyboard sitting handily. Such as now, writing a keyboard review on the train.
For this purpose, I bought the Geyes Folding Bluetooth Keyboard for £50 on eBay. It sits as a small, light block in my rucksack front pocket, and will fit into my jacket pocket if I want to keep it with me.
The keyboard folds up neatly, with sliding clips to keep it closed, and sits happily without its carrying pouch or any attachments in my bag. To open, you slide the clips, unfold, and then push a large slider on either side that locks the four parts into two parts. With sliders locked, the keyboard still folds at the central hinge, so isn’t completely ridge.
The keyboard is actually full-size once unfolded; which is a bit of overkill for me, as I prefer something more compact; I was ideally looking for one like the Psion Series 5mx, which was fantastic, but sadly those don’t exist in this form.
The build quality is… average for Chinese no-name electronics. The keys are light and springy, and the ‘r’ key is already playing up slightly, after my second use. The behaviour is dodgy as well – every third or fourth word has either a missing, or repeated, character, I tried typing 01234567890 several times, as I suspected a problem in the bluetooth connection, but that works OK. I suspect that pressing keys too close together can confuse it – maybe it’s not properly buffered.
Pairing with the iphone was OK: you turn on Bluetooth and the keyboard, press a recessed ‘search’ button on the keyboard, and tap the ‘Geyes’ entry on the iPhone Bluetooth list. It asks you to type a pincode on the keyboard, hit return, and it’s paired. Once connected, aside from the repeating character issue, it seems stable. HOWEVER – I seem to have to re-pair each time. If I turn the keyboard back on, and tap it on the iPhone, then the iPhone is unable to connect to it without re-pairing.
Battery life is untested as yet – I’ve been using it for about an hour. The USB charger is a mini type-B, I think(?) – similar to a miniUSB, but untapered – so your blackberry charger cable won’t work. It also does NOT act as a USB keyboard – power only – which I suspected, but was hopeful it might.
So, would I recommend it? Well – No. Absolutely not. The build quality is poor, the bluetooth connection dodgy, and at £50 is way overpriced. I do sometimes buy dubious-quality no-name electronics such as this, but wouldn’t expect to pay more than £20 to put up with its foibles.
So, continuing on my Touch Pro exploration:
In case I didn’t mention it before, you should note that the Touch interface *mostly* works. That means that using the on-screen keyboard or keypad for dialling or typing, is responsive enough that you can use it without thinking – unlike the Kaiser, where you had to allow both for inaccurate tapping, and lag. Here, typing a number in on the screen is a pleasure, and works fine.
Where it doesn’t always work is in swiping – it’s tricky to get it to interpret the movement correctly – such as scrolling down an inbox, and ending up opening an email instead. It can make navigating a pain, when compared to my much-missed jogwheel. Trying to get to a specific point in a document or web page is also a question of endless flicking the screen, or digging the stylus out for the scroll bars. However, it is still slightly better than the Kaiser at this.
Nice Little Feature
If you plug in something to the mini-USB connector, you get this helpful little pane pop up.
It’s genuinely useful -touch Internet Sharing, and that’s all you need to do – it effectively runs a macro that opens the usual Internet Sharing app, and selects Connect for you – and hey presto, your laptop is connected!
I’m just about used to the keyboard after a couple of days. The one major remaining annoyance is the SMS button – accidentally press it while typing, and your email will be saved to drafts, and you’ll be flicked back to the SMS screen. Getting back to your email is a long journey…
There’s also a bug: if you choose to use T9 mode when using the touchscreen (which is actually very usable!), then it’ll also be enabled for the keyboard (which is not at all usable). Want to have the best of both worlds? Tough! You’ll have to manually change the input settings each time you switch from one to the other.
(This bug’s reminscent of the Hermes, where using the keyboard while in a call was impossible because it was locked in DTMF-only mode. It seems HTC just didn’t get to these finishing touches…)
– The stylus makes a return to the right side of the keyboard and phone body – good news for all those righties who had
to reach across for the Kaiser. The magnetic action is also quite nice, but again, the slightly insensitive touchscreen means you have to put a bit of effort behind your prodding
– Speaking of prodding, the slightly insensitive touchscreen (am I too used to the iPod Touch?) makes clicking links in Opera a pain. Stab, stab, and stab again, until you manage to get on the link, and the page opens.
– The Touch Pro defaults to a ‘large font’ for all menus – I assume on the assumption that they expect you to use your finger rather than a stylus. For the most part, it is a good choice – unless the menu is larger than the screen height. In that case, I found that some apps strangely automatically scroll the menu downwards, and you have to grab it and wrestle it back up to the option you wanted (using too-small up and down arrows). Your instinct is to scroll through it by flicking your finger – again, like an iPhone would allow – but it won’t work.
Now, this is the worst one… I learnt the other day that the Touch Pro actually has an Apple-style rotary touch sensor around the D-Pad. Yep – you heard right – you can actually spin your finger around the rim of the button, and it’ll sense that and act accordingly.
Wow! An alternative to the jog dial!! Excellent! So – you can scroll up and down lists, web pages, contact databases, at lightning speed, right?
What you can do… is Zoom In, and Zoom Out.
Zoom In…… and Zoom Out.
On a couple of applications.
Now – if I had to zoom in and out more frequently that I had to scroll – which is every email, web page, screen that I look at – then this would be great. But I don’t. I need to scroll, and HTC seem to have completely wasted this (probably quite expensive) little add-on.
So – I guess that’ll be fixed on the next model…
However – overall, I’ve already grown quite used to having the Raphael around. The responsiveness when typing on the screen or switching Portrait-Landscape is pleasant. The looks and solid feel ARE nice… I’m already wondering if I’ll dislike having a Hermes as my backup phone….