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Bluetooth keyboards for tablet & TV


Clark Mcgreat

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Write better on tablet and TV! Bluetooth keyboards enable comfortable typing on smartphones, tablets and smart TVs and Rackar Biatch made the practical test with ten models.

 

Bluetooth keyboards Review
Smartphones and tablets offer many advantages, writing longer texts is not one of them. Short messages are entrusted to your virtual keyboards, but you have to go back to your PC for longer emails or formal correspondence. Even clever keyboard apps like SwiftKey hardly solve this problem. With a universal Bluetooth keyboard (from 15 euros), however, almost any smartphone or tablet can be converted into a fully-fledged workplace provided the device has the wireless interface and a current operating system.

Since the Bluetooth versions are compatible and the keyboards always work with the HID profile (Human Interface Device), the universal keyboards can be connected to almost all devices with a Bluetooth interface. This also includes media players, game consoles and televisions. Smart TVs in particular benefit from a hardware keyboard, because a remote control is extremely poorly suited for entering text. In practice, however, it turns out that keyboards and end devices often have different ideas about the function of the keys.

 

Significantly different equipment
According to the manufacturer, the keyboards typically support Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Logitech also gives a guarantee of  compatibility with Google's ChromeOS for the  K480 , while Samsung  only recommends the VG-KBD2000 TV keyboard  for four series of smart TVs and Android devices in-house. Basically, the keyboards work with all devices that meet the requirements. The keyboards come either with battery or rechargeable battery operation, with the latter often being much flatter. Very cheap devices often lack batteries or USB charging cables.

Some keyboards also have comfortable stands for tablets and smartphones. The opposite pole is formed by folding keyboards such as the  Donzo IBK-03  (currently not available) or Perixx 805L, which are particularly small thanks to the folding mechanism during transport. Their disadvantage: The folding hinge divides the keypad and makes it somewhat unstable, which is at the expense of the pen ergonomics. A look at the test field shows that a really good, high-quality writing experience is often only found in models from 50 euros.

The very affordable Ultra Slim, which is sold by both Anker for just under 15 euros and CSL, is the laudable exception with a surprisingly solid tip field. Some models have a toggle switch that manages multiple Bluetooth connections and the feature that and the Logitech K480 have in our test. You can control up to three devices directly, instead of having to log in again, it only takes a few seconds to change devices.

 

Stumbling blocks in the company
When using mobile devices, you should make sure that only models with Android 4 or iOS 6 can handle Bluetooth pairing as standard. Then the application is surprisingly smooth, but you have to put up with small quirks: In interaction with Android, multimedia or the [Back] keys, mostly [ESC], are not recognized (for example Donzo). With the Perixx, a system restart was necessary after pairing so that the keyboard could be used, and the keyboard was the only one noticeable due to an excessively long delay in input. A general problem with Android: Sometimes the OS does not recognize the German layout and the keyboards work according to the English QWERTY scheme. This error can be fixed with apps like QWERTZ deutsch.

In principle, this also applies to iOS devices: Writing and using multimedia and special keys is implemented very well. The biggest drawback here: In contrast to Android devices, the [TAB] command is not fully supported on iOS. For example, if you fill out a form in an app or on a website, you can switch between the input fields with the [TAB] key, but you often have to use your finger directly on the touch display to confirm the final confirmation, a bit annoying in the long run.

 

Smart TVs are often not that smart
Bluetooth on televisions is not uncommon, but difficult to recognize because manufacturers rarely advertise the feature. As a rule of thumb, if the model has WLAN, it is very likely that Bluetooth is also integrated and both interfaces are often installed on one chip. Conversely, however, the following also applies: No WLAN, no Bluetooth. Pairing is usually done via the network settings and, like other devices, works by entering a PIN on the keyboard.

However: The compatibility of televisions is still clearly behind. Multimedia keys are hardly supported, and some keys are incorrectly assigned, for example [TAB] as [ENTER], or do not work as expected. Even supposed experts like the Samsung VG-KBD2000 do not work flawlessly here.

One solution to such problems is the use of remote apps, which are available for virtually all smart TVs. If you control the remote control app on your smartphone or tablet using a Bluetooth keyboard, you can often outsmart stubborn TV sets and use them more comfortably. Another alternative is the  Harmony Smart Keyboard  from Logitech. Thanks to the Harmony database, the keyboard can handle over 200,000 entertainment devices, but the setup is done via an online app and is quite tedious depending on the number of devices in the living room.

Tip for console owners:  In contrast to Sony's PlayStations 3/4, the Xbox models from Microsoft do not have an integrated Bluetooth interface. A wireless keyboard can be retrofitted for the end device via USB dongle, but it has to be a keyboard-dongle combination that is already paired at the factory (e.g. Logitech K400). So you don't have to do without comfortable typing while gaming or on the smartphone.

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