murphys_lawyer (murphys_lawyer) wrote,

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Bluetooth keyboard review: Nintendo Pokémon typing adventure

When I got an Android tablet for my birthday last year, I looked at various keyboards that claimed to work with it, but they all fell short one way or the other. The keyboards integrated into a case looked flimsy, many of the others looked like they came out of the same factory with only different branding to differentiate them, and the very few that looked worth considering cost almost as much as the tablet (Hail and farewell, Apple wireless...). My quest, like so many other gadget searches, moved to the back of my mind, until last month, when a colleague and fellow Nintendo fanboy loaned me a Bluetooth keyboard designed for, of all things, a Pokémon game.

So what’s it like?

First, and most importantly, it works. Connection is a breeze, and shows that Nintendo knew this wasn't just going to be used with its DS consoles. Pairing is simple, requiring a PIN entry. This review is typed using the keyboard in question, using my Samsung Galaxy S4 mobile phone as a screen. The phone fits nicely on the DS stand that comes with the game, and I think the stand would work with any other phone up to "Phablet" size. Just remember to make your device visible when you switch Bluetooth on, like I didn't the first time.

The keyboard build is solid, which is both good and unsurprising because hey, it's Nintendo, and they know that it's going to be used by kids. The keys look a little loose, but they seem to be very firmly mounted, and there's little flex in the case, which is sealed up with ten visible tri-wing screws and possibly more under the rubber feet. This is a keyboard that will survive daily travel in a briefcase or similar for quite a while, unless you pour a drink over it or use it to wedge a door shut.
It measures 26cm wide by 11.5cm tall, and is 2cm thick at the top. This includes the bar raising the top up slightly and which also holds the two AA batteries that power it. At the bottom, the thickness is only 1cm. The bar is rubberised and with two small rubber studs at the bottom this holds the keyboard in place firmly on the table I'm typing on.

The keys are the "chiclet" type, with about 2mm travel when you press them. There's a reasonable bounce back, and an audible but not overwhelming "click" sound when they're pressed. Compared to some of the keyboards I’ve had to use from my earliest days of computing such as the membranes of the Commodore Pet and its predecessors I used at school and the Sinclair Spectrum's rubber blocks, these are good. If anything, they remind me of an embiggened Psion Series 3 (which is still used in the household); but not as good as the 3’s never-equalled evolution on the Series 5, which for the life of me I don't understand why has never been relicensed as a form factor. Ahem.

What makes this a proper keyboard for writers (and great kudos to Nintento for recognising this) is that the action keys either side of the QWERTY section are full-sized. Yes, this includes the large right hand Shift key, the lack of which has caused me to ignore so many other keyboards irrespective of their other cool features.

Because this is an accessory for a game that didn’t do very well, it’s going quite cheap at the moment: Amazon UK have some for about £15, which for a wireless keyboard that’s well built is definitely worth looking at.

Cross-posted from DreamWidth at (provided Frank the Goat hasn't been at the vodka again). There are comment count unavailable comments there so far.

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