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Friday, 19 September 2014

Tools of the trade...

A couple of months ago I bought a keyboard on Amazon and posted a review, now and again I get a question asking about the device, a Perixx Periboard 805 Bluetooth keyboard.

I was looking for a more flexible replacement for a piece of kit I'd worked to death over the last five years. My use of portable electronics started with a Palm T/X PDA, linked to a Freedom Universal Keyboard; a full size folding Bluetooth keyboard. With five years of work under its belt it was showing its age and when I switched to Android phones and tablets I needed a replacement. I wanted a device that would keep the on-board keyboard display tucked out of sight and leave more of the screen available to see and work with.

The Freedom Keyboard worked with a dedicated driver tied to the Palm and in spite of numerous attempts I couldn't divorce the pair. Hence the scouring of the internet and computer stores for something more flexible.

I knew what I was looking for, it had to be small and lightweight, yet physically big enough to cope with the size of my hands. (My weakness in texting boils down to predictive text, small keys and large-ish fingers - the results can be cringe-worthy and hilarious by turns) It had to be adaptable enough to work with multiple devices, switching it from the phone to the tablet and back again was not an option.

Starting locally, a visit to the nearest Maplin's led me to Maplin Mini Bluetooth keyboard, by Cerulian Technology;  at 218 x 92 x 22mm ( 8 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 3/4 inches) and weighing 215g it was larger than I was ideally looking for. There is no hinge to make it more compact it will fit snugly into a bag.

The manufacturer claims a keyboard life of 10 million strokes and the device is well constructed and solid to the touch. The Bluetooth connection is straightforward with Android and Apple devices and once the pairing code has been entered on the keyboard the link is positive and with a quick response. The Full 78 key QWERTY layout is clear and angled slightly and four rubber feet give it a good grip while you type. The keyboard, lacking any hinge mechanism is solid enough for lap typing and has a working range of 5 metres between the keyboard and the connected device. The keys click slightly when they are struck but respond quickly and the effort required is not great, this makes the keyboard suitable for prolonged use; much easier and therefore more practical than using the on-board keyboard.

Powered by a Li-ion rechargeable battery with a considerable working life between charges and supplied with a retractable USB charging cable it retains its functions while being charged. The cable is a charging cable and cannot be used as a USB connection to a PC or laptop. The Cerulian is compatible with Apple iOS, HID and Android 4.4

Periboard 805 (Top)
Cerulian Bluetooth Keyboard

As an interim it was a reasonable buy, but not what I was really looking for, so the search continued on-line. That brought me to the Perixx Periboard 805. This was more like it; compact flexible,, and like the Cerulian, powered by a Li-ion battery. The Periboard is a Bluetooth device, and again, like the Cerulian cannot be used through a USB connection. The dimensions, folded, are 146 ( 290 opened) x 96 x 17mm and weighing 253g.

The Periboard is compatible with Windows XP/Vista/7/8, supports HID, Android up to 4.4, iOS and with IBM and compatible PCs.

It had what I was looking for; folding, Bluetooth, lightweight and with large enough keys to avoid Fat Finger, the rechargeable battery has a long working life between charges. The key strokes are responsive and comfortable, a keyboard for long bouts of writing, ideal for churning out the word count for a dissertation or a novel in relative comfort. There is no click, the sound of the keystrokes is soft making little noise at all. On the downside; there is no support behind the hinge so lap typing is not possible. The Periboard 805 needs a firm surface underneath. That aside, the advantages far outweigh that consideration. It is lightweight and compact enough to be genuinely portable. The folded dimensions make it roughly the same size as a Moleskine pocket notebook and about 50g heavier.
Moleskine notebook and Folded Periboard 805
Hooking up the device is straightforward, and pairing it with a tablet or smartphone takes no more than a few seconds. If lap typing is your thing, you should look at the Periboard 806. The outer case is designed so that the back slides under the keyboard and locks in position making it rigid enough torest your lap.

Choosing between the too, The Cerulian and the Periboard, comes down to portability the Cerulian is good, but lacking the fold it is too bulky for a pocket Good for a bag or a briefcase, but the folding Periboard has the edge. Genuinely pocket sized and portable.

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