So for the last two weeks, I’ve been using another of Plugable’s folding Bluetooth keyboards.
Some three or so weeks back, I reviewed their smaller keyboard (found here: http://droidhorizon.com/review-plugable-bluetooth-folding-keyboard-case/). The tl;dr for that was good quality, but a bit on the cramped side, and thus required learning some new muscle memory. What I’ve been using this time around is that keyboard’s larger sibling. The build quality is identical, as is the appearance, save for a few small touches related to its size. I’ll be quoting select portions of the prior review for some of the areas that are identical; no use trying to reword what worked the first time.
“Pairing the keyboard was the easiest of any wireless keyboard I have used. Once I got my NVidia Shield into discovery mode, I hit Fn + C (which activates the Bluetooth pairing for the keyboard), and the rest was automatic. No codes or passwords were necessary. There’s a green light near the top (and slightly to the left) that confirmed it was a paired, and I was off and running from there. What really impressed me was this keyboard doesn’t have an on/off switch. You open the keyboard, and (provided I have my Bluetooth turned on) it will connect automatically for me. When I close up the keyboard, it disconnects for me automatically. I can’t stress enough how nice this feature is. I don’t have to give it a second thought, I just open it up to use it, and close it when it’s done. For me, this is a real selling point.” The large keyboard is no different in the regard, so the prior sentiment still stands. Simplicity and elegance through and through, with no extraneous steps or switches. It charges via standard micro USB, and while it comes with a cable, any phone charger (or desktop for that matter) will do the job nicely. It has red, blue, and green LEDs to indicate charging, pairing, and connected statuses respectively. It retains the same functionality as the smaller keyboard as well, including the “Win” key acting as the swipe-up-from-home gesture, native to Android.
The keyboard has the same two hinges as the smaller one about appearance of this keyboard is just as slick as its predecessor. It has brushed metal on one side, that is the exterior when it’s closed and the bottom when it’s open for use. On the top/inside of the keyboard, it’s black with white lettering or numbering, and blue for the alternate functions found on some of the keys (such as the Bluetooth pairing button). The keyboard uses magnets to keep itself opened and closed, and they work well. When collapsed, it becomes easier to transport but clearly won’t fit in your typical pants pocket, front or back. When open and being used, the keyboard’s “wings” aren’t flapping about, but remain solidly in place, just like the smaller one. Also like the smaller one, the seams are small and border on unseen, fitting snugly in place. There are a couple places though where they differ, though it’s all in the layout, as far as I can tell. Unlike the smaller one, this keyboard has a full row of of numbers, as well a full row of function keys, taking advantage of the fact that this keyboard is full sized (read: what you would expect sitting down in front of a desktop). The other advantage the larger size of this keyboard affords is the spacing of of the keys. Whereas the spacing of the keys was a serious issue for me with the smaller keyboard, there is NO such issue here. I can seamlessly jump from a desktop and its keyboard to this, and not skip a beat. When using the other one, I noticed over time that if I had a typing groove going on the small one, there were mistakes made when I had to switch to a desktop, at least at first. If I were humming along on a desktop, PC it would take some conscious thought when first switching to the small Bluetooth one. As I put it in the prior review “After spending some time with it, it’s not as bad as it was when I first got it (I would’ve bordered on buyer’s remorse for day 1), it’s still not as comfortable a feeling as I get on larger keyboards At first, I couldn’t just type. I had to THINK about typing, instead of letting words flow through my fingers”. Much to my relief and pleasure, this was NOT the case with this larger model. With the keys and their spacing being ” standard”, for lack of a better word, I don’t have to THINK about typing, I just do it. No adjusting my muscle memory, no having to retype words due to mistakes stemming from forgetting that I’m on a smaller or larger keyboard than what my fingers are trying to do. With this keyboard, it just works and so do I, since size is no longer a prohibitive issue. In short, my fingers love this keyboard. Other, secondary differences are things like Delete and Backspace no longer sharing the same key, or (as mentioned before) the Function keys getting their own row of dedicated keys. For users who rely heavily on using the Function keys, this could be a serious boon.
“The keyboard comes with a sort of case. It doesn’t house the folded keyboard completely, but rather it wraps around the keyboard, leaving the sides exposed, and prevents scratching on the stainless steel exterior. What’s nice about it though, is that it doubles as a stand for a mobile device, when it’s folded a different way… It also has magnets built into the case that keep it closed when the keyboard is inside of it. Another point in the plus column for this keyboard.” This keyboard comes with an identical case as the other, writ large. Given its larger size, the case feels even more stable than the smaller one. It might just be me, but the magnets in the larger case seem stronger, and lock into place with a more noticeable snap. Though my tablet is only 8 inches, the larger case gives me confidence that a larger tablet would prove no challenge at all to be held in place, and that it would be done securely.
I only have a single caveat with this keyboard, and it borders on negligible, and was found by mistake, at that. As I frequently do, I was using this keyboard with my tablet, only this one time it was while the tablet was plugged into my TV in console mode (so whatever would be shown on the tablet’s screen is instead cast on to the television), and I was seated on my couch that was several feet away, with the keyboard resting on a large ottoman on front of me. This set up allowed me to see on the TV what I was typing from the couch. Having Bluetooth, one would expect the signal to reliably carry that relatively short distance between keyboard and tablet, yet to my surprise, this wasn’t the case. On numerous occasions (during my one session with everything set up like this), keystrokes were misinterpreted, and frequently repeated. So, were I typing out the word “distance”, what I saw typed out on the television was ” disssssssssstance”. When the keyboard remains within the immediate proximity of the tablet, both before and since that isolated instance, the keyboard functions without a hitch. Based on that instance though, I can only assume that the range of this keyboard is quite limited, and is definitely under the seven or eight feet of space that was between the ottoman and the TV. And while this in no way causes the bloom to come off of the proverbial rose for me, I feel it worth noting nonetheless.
In summary, this keyboard has just about everything I would look for in Bluetooth. Despite not being “pocketable”, the fact that it folds down is still a perk. The size of the keyboard, and all that is brought to the table because of that, is great. Easily worth the asking price.