Author Topic: Folding Bluetooth keyboards for smartphone pairing while touring  (Read 1150 times)

Danneaux

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Folding Bluetooth keyboards for smartphone pairing while touring
« on: February 12, 2015, 11:56:20 PM »
Hi All!

I've received several inquiries about the folding Bluetooth keyboard I've paired with my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone to make a compact portable computing solution for touring. It has worked well for me in production writing and you can see an example of one report I did entirely on the phone while "away" from home and office: http://www.thorncycles.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=10585.0

To save a little time in a harried day (I'm writing this on the phone with keyboard as well), I'll cut and paste one of my responses so others can seek the same keyboard if they wish. When going really light, I'll often use a stylus and one of the predictive "Swipe-style" onscreen keyboards. With that combo, I'm actually faster and more accurate than when typing on one of my laptops or netbooks or at my big "production" desktop keyboard.

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After testing a whole bunch of Bluetooth portable and folding keyboards, I found the ThinkOutside iGo Stowaway was the "perfect" one for me. Unfortunately, they are also out of production. I found mine for a fair price on eBay and the seller in Puerto Rico had never used it.

They're still available on eBay for less money than through Amazon. Some are branded as Dell products, but are the same except for the label.

I have made a custom eBay search for you that shows a number of them are currently available:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=think+outside+bluetooth+keyboard&_in_kw=1&_ex_kw=&_sacat=0&_udlo=&_udhi=&_ftrt=901&_ftrv=1&_sabdlo=&_sabdhi=&_samilow=&_samihi=&_sadis=15&_stpos=&_sargn=-1%26saslc%3D1&_salic=1&_sop=12&_dmd=1&_ipg=200

Get one with the case if you can. If you get one, just use care in opening and it will last forever. Despite appearances, they're robust but can be broken if opened roughly. There is a little black plastic catch on the right that isn't obvious but needs to be slid to one side before it opens smoothly. There are even thin, 7071 T-6 follower arms to ease the keyboard open and then serve as trusses once it is flat. Remarkably well engineered.

They made several that are similar, but the kind you want has a folding stand *attached* and looks like this one: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Think-Outside-Stowaway-Wireless-Universal-Bluetooth-Keyboard-XTBT01-FREE-Case-/321663847716?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4ae4a8cd24

If you use it with an iPhone or an Android phone (mine, yours), you won't need any drivers or disc to pair it. The standard Bluetooth connection works fine. Just start up the keyboard, then let the phone discover and pair with it and all should be fine if I recall correctly. You won't have any special commands you can use, but the standard phone keyboard characters work fine and you'll have all that your phone allows in texting anyway. The keyboard runs seemingly forever on AAA cells. I like mine very much. Folded, it is about the size of the phone. I can type with my phone set vertically (portrait mode) but usually prefer it in landscape mode for the wider view. The keyboard action is really nice...larger and better than the one on my netbook and very close to the full-size keyboard on a couple of my laptops. For a video of it in action, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awJyCPtlNOI

I sometimes use mine with a Bluetooth travel mouse. It works great and both devices can operate at once. It is small enough to nearly match the phone in size. I carry the phone and keyboard in each front pocket of my jeans when walking around, and they both fit nicely in a jersey pocket or handlebar bag when riding or touring.

If you can't find one of these, folding BT keyboards there is another, European one available on Amazon I researched carefully and it came in second to the ThinkOutside iGo Stowaway but far ahead of others on the market.

Best,

Dan. (...who is all keyed-up and never "board" when it comes to portable computing while touring)

Matt2matt2002

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Re: Folding Bluetooth keyboards for smartphone pairing while touring
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2015, 08:28:54 PM »
Thanks Dan.
I have just put a bid in on a UK eBay seller.
Fingers crossed.
Matt
Who is never ' borded' with your posts.
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David Simpson

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Re: Folding Bluetooth keyboards for smartphone pairing while touring
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2015, 09:25:06 PM »
I too have the ThinkOutside iGo Stowaway keyboard, and I concur with Dan. It does the job very nicely, and folds up small.

- Dave

John Saxby

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Re: Folding Bluetooth keyboards for smartphone pairing while touring
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2015, 04:57:26 AM »
Thanks for this, Dan, and your experience too, Dave.  Robert Ewing posted a review on crazyguy of a similar product, here:  https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/reviews/board/message/?o=Sh&thread_id=539398&page=1&nested=0&v=I

Any thoughts/reports/experience on that setup?  I've been thinking of something similar, perhaps mated to a small tablet like the one Robert uses -- less for cycling, though that could change, and more because we'll likely be travelling to Australia from time to time in the years ahead, and I'm looking for something less bulky than my laptop.