Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of projections and claims that we are now in a ‘Post PC era’. But despite the fact that more people than ever are using mobile devices and tablets for web browsing and gaming, when it comes to getting real work done, you can’t replace a physical keyboard with a virtual one.
While using a Bluetooth keyboard with a smartphone or tablet is never going to make for a compelling laptop replacement, it may just be the accessory that saves you in a pinch, especially if you have little space to store gadgets while on the move. The iClever folding keyboard is a wireless affordable keyboard with sturdy metal construction that you can take anywhere.
Of course, (most of) this review was typed on the iClever foldable Bluetooth keyboard. And I have to say, that when you’re used to touch typing on a full sized keyboard, the small keys on the iClever can take some time to get used to. For the first time in years, I was staring at the keys, anxiously focussing to make sure that I didn’t press any wrong keys. And even then, I wasn’t guaranteed to hit all the right ones. But then, that’s pretty much as I expected from a portable foldable keyboard designed for mobile products.
They keyboard itself consists of five rows of keys. As with most accessories of this nature, the top row is all numbers, secondary characters and symbols. Blue icons like the copy, cut, paste and music controls denote which ones require the function key to activate. This function key sits on the bottom row in between the ‘Ctrl’ and ‘Win’ keys.
One interesting choice was opting to place directional arrow keys on the keyboard, something I perhaps would expect to be cut out to save space, or made into secondary functions on nearby keys instead.
They keys aren’t of the utmost quality, and don’t particularly feel nice when you press them. There’s very little feedback from them, making it hard to tell when you’ve actually pressed the key. And again, because they’re so cramped, it’s very difficult to type on. As are most portable keyboards.
Saying that, it’s far from being the worst keyboard I’ve ever used. Like anything new, it takes time to adjust and given that it only costs $35, I can forgive a few imperfections.
From a construction standpoint, the keyboard feels really sturdy. The majority of the shell is made from ‘aircraft grade’ aluminium, with two sliding hinges that open really smoothly. Once open, the keyboard powers on and you can connect it to your Android, iOS or Windows Phone device by pressing ‘Fn + C’. There’s a hump on the bottom panel which contains the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, with a Micro USB port on the side.
I haven’t used it anywhere near enough to fully drain the battery, and its Amazon listing doesn’t show any battery specifications but it should last at least a couple of hundred hours. To preserve the battery, the keyboard automatically shuts down whenever it’s folded shut.
I think what I like most about the iClever keyboard is that it gave me a serious nostalgia hit. Although far from being exactly the same, I couldn’t help but think of the foldable keyboards you could get for the Palm PDAs at the turn of this century. Except, in most cases, those came with bigger, more sculpted keys.
As a wrap up, the iClever keyboard is pretty solid, it works and is very portable. It won’t fit in your pants pocket, but can easily be carried in your coat pocket, or thrown in to a backpack or messenger bag without adding much bulk to your everyday carry. It’s definitely not the best keyboard I’ve used, and isn’t the worst either. You can grab the iClever keyboard for just $35, or you can pay $20 more and get the bigger backlit edition with full-size keys (check out Greg’s review of that model here).
If you want another option, the Microsoft folding keyboard at $50 is still one of my favorites and it happens to be much thinner and has bigger keys. It doesn’t have the same metal, sturdy build of the iClever, but is great value for money.