Touch screen phones and tablets are certainly sleek—and work perfectly fine for adding a fun caption to a picture you’re sending off or for jotting a quick text announcing your safe arrival. But any more typing than that can quickly get cumbersome. Sometimes you just need a real, physical keyboard. Happily, these handy half-dozen keyboards, each offering different forms and functions, are optimized for those on the go. Read on to figure out which one is just your "type."
1. Azend Zippy BT-500
Why We Like It: This non-folding keyboard has six nicely laid out rows of keys, and can simultaneously connect to six devices. Plus, it has special function keys to quickly allow for switching between your multiple connected phones, tablets, (Mac or PC) desktops, and/or laptops. Size-wise, it’s smaller than the Verbatim model when it’s unfolded (reviewed below), but bigger than it folded. So on the one hand, that means the keys are just a smidge smaller; but on the other, the spacebar remains natural and unbroken, which is. . . well . . . key!
How Much: $50
Buy It: Visit Newegg.com.
2. Scosche freeKEY
Why We Like It: This is literally the most flexible keyboard you’ll find. It rolls up small enough to fit in your pocket, or takes up very little space in your bag; plus, it’s wireless, water-resistant, and rechargeable. After fully juicing it up with the included retractable charging cable, it’ll let you type for 2.5 days straight or stand by for up to a month. Although the keys aren’t full-size, it does a remarkably good job overall, and you certainly can’t beat its versatility.
How Much: $60
Buy It: Visit Scosche.com.
3. Verbatim Wireless Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard
Why We Like It: This nice-feeling, full-size keyboard folds in half, and offers special feature buttons to help you quickly copy and paste, launch your music, or get to your home screen. Plus, you can pair it with up to six devices at once—great for on-the-go multitasking. A handy smartphone stand slides out of it, and it also comes with a handsome carrying case.
How Much: $104
Buy It: Visit VerbatimStore.com.
4. Keyboard Buddy iPhone 4 Case
Why We Like It: The newest iteration of this rechargeable, backlit, slide-out keyboard features raised, rounded keys. Thus, it affords iPhone users a nice tactile typing experience that they otherwise lack. Another big benefit is that it allows for typing notes and emailing without also chewing up valuable screen space. The Keyboard Buddy also comes in vertical (priced at $50) and non-backlit ($40) versions.
How Much: $70
Buy It: Visit Boxwave.com.
5. Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad2
Why We Like It: It looks like a typical iPad2 (or new iPad) holder, until you press a button, pop it open, and discover two sets of keys that swing out from underneath. When the halves come together, they form a full-size keyboard with keys that are of normal size and position (with the rows shifted). The only casualty is the spacebar, which gets broken in two. But other than that, it provides an easy-breezy typing experience, complete with function keys that can play media or start a slideshow. Best of all, the holder props up your iPad at a proper viewing angle.
How Much: $130
Buy It: Visit Logitech.com.
Why We Like It: This physical keyboard lets you touch type on your iPad screen. Though thin and springy, it’s sturdy enough that you won’t accidentally type if gently resting your fingers on the keys. TouchFire stays on the first iPad with non-slip material along its bottom edge, and on the newer iPads using their built-in magnets. When not in use, you can leave it on the screen (since it’s both see-through and compatible with many cases), retract it, or take it off completely and store it in its own included case.
How Much: $50
Buy It: Visit TouchFire.com.
Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He’s written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo Credits: courtesy 1. Azend Group, Corp.; 2. Max Borges Agency; 3. Max Borges Agency; 4. BoxWave Corporation; 5. Logitech; 6. Jed Share Images