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Computerized Investing > February 25, 2012

Verbatim Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

Many users shun tablets such as the Apple iPad and the Toshiba Galaxy Tab because these devices lack a physical keyboard. I personally found that I became pretty adept at typing on a virtual, onscreen keyboard and didn’t mind that mode of input. This all changed when I used the Apple Wireless Keyboard for the first time. I never wanted to go back to typing on a screen again. Since then, my iPad 2 has become permanently paired with the ZAGGfolio Keyboard Case, which combines a protective case for my iPad 2 and a Bluetooth keyboard. I am, however, still on the lookout for Bluetooth keyboards that expand the functionality of tablet PCs by offering a functional physical keyboard. My biggest knock against the Apple keyboard is that it isn’t overly portable, since it is almost the same size as a standard keyboard.

Recently I have been using the new Verbatim Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard, which is compatible with a number of iOS and Android devices. In their quest to create a portable wireless keyboard, Verbatim may have gone too far.

Out of the Box

Verbatim definitely succeeded in creating an ultra-light keyboard. It measures roughly 8.5 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep. To offer a point of comparison, the keyboard is narrower than an iPad 2 in landscape mode. Furthermore, the keyboard is roughly same size as the virtual keyboard on the iPad screen. However, the keys are actually smaller because of the dedicated special function keys you get with the Verbatim Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard.

The keyboard comes with a micro-USB cable for charging and a neoprene carrying case.

As with most Bluetooth keyboards, pairing was very easy. On an iOS device, you simply turn on the keyboard and then go into Settings. From there, you turn on Bluetooth and then select the Verbatim Keyboard.

Design

Verbatim has crammed an amazing number of keys onto an incredibly small footprint. As a result, there is no space between keys. This means that you will most likely be using the backspace key quite often to correct the errors you make when you accidentally hit multiple keys at once.

If the small keys don’t get to you, the non-standard key positioning will. I am not a pure touch typist, but I know the layout of a keyboard, so I can turn out about 50 words a minute, even on my ZAGGfolio keyboard. The key positioning on the Verbatim Keyboard will turn the best touch typist into a slow “hunt and peck” typist. The quotation mark key, which on most keyboards is found next to the Return/Enter key, is sandwiched between the left Shift key and the “Z” key. In addition, the backslash key is at the bottom right instead of at the top right, along the QWERTY keys row. I get the feeling that Verbatim was so wrapped up in creating a tiny Bluetooth keyboard that they forgot about functionality and ease of use.

Catering to iOS users, Verbatim includes a number of iOS-specific keys on the top row, including a lock key and keys for brightness; cut, copy and paste; rewind, play and forward; and volume up, volume down and mute.

Lastly, it is worth pointing out that my unit was a bit warped. As a result, the two rubber feet on the bottom of the keyboard did not make contact with the table top. Because of this, the keyboard rocked back and forth as I was typing, making an already tenuous typing experience even worse.

Conclusion

The Verbatim Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard is the first product I have reviewed that I just flat out stopped using. I wanted to like it, given how portable it is. But, as I mentioned earlier, I think Verbatim became obsessed with “going small” and forgot that adult-sized fingers were going to be used to type on it. Add in its price—it retails for $84 from Verbatim—and there is no way I could recommend this product. The Apple Wireless Keyboard, while bigger, is still so much more functional and retails for $69. You are better off going bigger and better or biting the bullet and using the virtual keyboard.

Pros

  • Extremely portable
  • iOS-specific shortcut keys

Cons

  • Keys too closely spaced for easy typing
  • Non-standard key positioning
  • High price, given its limitations

Verbatim Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Keyboard

http://www.verbatim.com/prod/accessories/keyboards/ultra-slim-bluetooth-wireless-mobile-keyboard/

$84 (currently available for $47.49 from Amazon.com)

 

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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