In order to complement the surge of mobile devices and the new tablet market, EFO has released a rollable bluetooth keyboard to make typing that much easier. I've gotten a chance to use one for a while and here's what I thought.
The idea of a rollout, bluetooth keyboard that's portable, easily cleaned, and lasts a while on battery life is great. Anyone who's new to the iPad, for instance, will immediately understand that typing on the touch screen as opposed to the feedback of typing on a physical keyboard is a strange experience. Many people who use smaller devices like the iPhone have been clamoring for a reliable external keyboard. To fill that gap, EFO came out with this soft, rubbery, and portable solution. After using it for a bit, here's what stood out to me.
+ The battery life on this EFO bluetooth keyboard is great. After an initial charge, I've never had an issue running out of batteries. I honestly couldn't even tell you how long it lasts from fully charged to fully depleted because I have never truly reached that point. That should be reassuring to anyone who's used mobile devices like this and found that they just die after only a couple hours.
+ At 96 grams, the EFO bluetooth keyboard is incredibly light. I added it to my typical campus commute backpack of gadgets and supplies and I never even noticed that it was there. I think my wallet or even my cell phone weighs more than this diminutive little piece of technology. It's also very small, in terms of volume and space, and can (theoretically) be rolled up.
+ I'm a bit of a dust freak since I've got awful allergies, so I found it nice that the EFO bluetooth keyboard is incredibly easy to clean. The keys are seamless and rubberized, so a quick wipe with a dust cloth is all it takes to remove any particulates that have accumulated from use. It's certainly way easier to clean than a laptop or desktop keyboard, places that are notorious for gathering all sorts of foreign matter and dust over time.
+ At only $34 USD, the EFO bluetooth keyboard is extremely affordable. If you're looking for a portable keyboard on a budget, you could buy two of these before you'd even pay for one of, for instance, Apple's iPad keyboard dock.
- It is impossible to actually use the EFO bluetooth keyboard with any semblance of accuracy or comfort. I even have relatively small hands and typing on this thing was like putting my hands in an invisible torture device, so I can't imagine how much worse it is for someone with larger, wider fingers. The keys are incredibly small, somewhere between the comfortable size of a standard keyboard and the thumb size of cell phone buttons, and they're squishy so you're never quite sure when they've been fully depressed. I still have an LG EN-V 3 and I can type faster and more accurately on the flip QWERTY keyboard using only my thumbs than I can on the EFO bluetooth keyboard. I also regularly type on an iPad and I've found that even the strange experience of typing on a smooth, touch screen with zero physical feedback whatsoever is infinitely easier and more natural than typing on this awkward little keyboard.
- The pitched features are actually contradictory with the instruction manual and its associated warnings. The biggest example of this that stands out to me is how this keyboard is advertised to be rollable, thus making it easily transportable. In direct contradiction, practically speaking, the instruction manual warns you not to apply any pressure whatsoever to the keyboard when it's rolled up. This means that if you roll it and store it, it can't be pressed against anything else in your bag. You would somehow need to store this in a solid container of some sort, completely defeating the idea of portability. Unless you're used to or comfortable with transporting things that can't be squeezed at all or you don't mind bringing a keyboard around with you in something akin to Tupperware, the EFO bluetooth keyboard is practically not very portable due to its fragility in spite of its size and weight.
Yeah, what that guy's doing? The instruction manual directly tells you not to do that.
- While battery life is great, when you do need to recharge, your options are very limited. The only recharging device included with the EFO bluetooth keyboard is a USB cable. Tell me, if you're bringing along this keyboard for use with a mobile phone, an iPhone, or an iPad, what USB outlet do you plan on using to recharge this device? You would need a separate USB to power outlet adapter or a third device with USB, such as a laptop, in order to recharge. That begs the question, "If you're traveling with a laptop, why are you toting around a bluetooth keyboard that's more difficult to use than a laptop keyboard?" Maybe someone can answer that question sensibly, but I just don't understand it.
I don't really have many bad things to say about the EFO bluetooth keyboard, but the negative points stood out to me so much that it definitely made this one gadget that I didn't enjoy using at all. I've used cell phone QWERTY keyboards, iPhone touch keys, iPad touch screens, laptop keyboard, and desktop keyboards and I have to say that every one of those experiences was better than typing on the EFO bluetooth keyboard. I eventually adjusted to all of those keyboards, but my fingers could never quite get a handle on typing with this rollout keyboard. It's a wonderful companion in theory with lengthy battery life, portability, and a price tag that really can't be beaten, but in practice I would recommend avoiding this one.
The EFO bluetooth keyboard was provided to DigitalReviews.net for review purposes and reviewed by Jake after several weeks of use. It is available now at this website for an MSRP of $34 USD.