Tablets are justifiably popular devices these days. They are lightweight, easy to slip into a bag and carry around, and incredibly versatile. However, even with the addition of a "Swipe" keyboard app, typing on a tablet's virtual keyboard isn't as smooth and fast as typing on a physical keyboard, at least once you're past the hunt and peck stage of typing. That's why many manufacturers are providing small, light, portable keyboards that make life even easier for tablet lovers. Inateck offers portable keyboards in both PC and Mac layouts. We received the BK1003 keyboard for testing (it has a Windows layout, but more about that in a minute). After testing it out with a variety of devices we're ready to show you what we found, in this review:
Unboxing The Inateck BK1003 Bluetooth Keyboard
Unlike many of Inateck's other products, the BK1003 Bluetooth Keyboard does not come in a glossy black box. It arrives in a rather plain brown cardboard box with the manufacturer's name on the front.
Inside, you'll find the keyboard sitting in a plain cardboard tray. Pay attention, though, because what looks like a spacer in the tray is actually a tube that contains the USB cable that's supplied with the keyboard.
Take the keyboard out of the tray and remove the cord from the tube and you'll end up with the keyboard, the USB cord and a small instruction manual.
The keyboard is an attractive matte black. The manual calls it "chocolate" so they must mean very DARK chocolate. 🙂
The back is brushed stainless steel, which gives the keyboard a very firm base, something fast typists will definitely appreciate. There are four small but effective rubber feet, to keep the keyboard from sliding around. The On/Off switch is on the top edge about an inch (2.5cm) from the rubber foot.
Overall, the keyboard is 280 x 135 x 18mm (11.1 x 5.32 x 0.7 inches). Its weight is not listed; we used a digital scale to weigh it at 306 grams (10.7 ounces). You can see all its specifications and the company's illustrations and information on its web page here.
Making The Connection
The keyboard arrived with enough charge in its built-in rechargeable battery to allow us to experiment (it charges via the included USB cable). We paired the keyboard with a variety of Bluetooth devices. To connect, you switch on the keyboard, make your device visible for a Bluetooth connection and then press the Fn key and the C key, which has the Bluetooth logo on it. The keyboard connected almost instantly with a Samsung tablet.
It also worked very well with a laptop running Windows 8.1 and a Macbook Air running OS X Yosemite.
As with connecting any non-Apple keyboard, OS X Yosemite asked us to press a couple of keys so the operating system could tell what kind of keyboard it was dealing with, but after that it was smooth sailing.
It's A Keyboard. Does It Type? 🙂
We put the keyboard through its paces with a variety of devices. Our US-based tester is a very fast typist (110 words per minute or more) and is very particular about keyboards and especially fond of silent keyboards. The Inateck BK1003 Bluetooth Keyboard is impressively quiet in operation, and the keys have a fairly long travel, which, along with the solid metal base, makes typing feel swift and assured. The matte surface is a pleasure to type on and it won't show fingerprints and smudges as easily as a glossy surface, which is a big plus.
We noticed that there are keys labeled Android, Win, and iOS. However, the manual does not explain what these are supposed to do. The key with the Bluetooth logo on it was self explanatory. The Windows key works just as you'd expect on Windows 8.1 and also serves as a Command key in OS X.
We tried the Google Docs apps on the Samsung tablet. (NOTE: the green cast to the screen is an artifact of the photo, not the actual color of the screen with the Google Docs apps--it was difficult to get a proper color balance with a white table, black keyboard and white tablet screen).
We did not have a Windows tablet to test the keyboard with, so we used a Lenovo laptop running Windows 8.1. We use Google Docs as the word processor of choice on this laptop, and we found that typing into Google Docs with the Inateck keyboard worked just as well as with the laptop's own keyboard.
And in Microsoft Office Word 11 for Mac, the situation was the same.
Pressing the Android, Win, and iOS keys with the appropriate devices didn't seem to affect the connection or the way the keyboard worked. We didn't have a Bluetooth capable iOS device to test it out on though. It would have made things easier if the manual had explained what we were supposed to do with these keys. We tried it with and without pressing the Fn key at the same time, but nothing seemed to change.
All in all, the Inateck BK1003 keyboard was a joy to work with. It was easy to type on and although it is small, it did not feel cramped. We liked it better than the Microsoft Wedge Mobile keyboard that we previously reviewed. It's thin and lightweight and will be easy to carry around with a portable device. It would have been nice if Inateck had supplied a carrying bag of some kind with it (or provided one for separate purchase on their website) but that is a minor quibble. It can slip easily into the pocket of a case or carrying bag for your portable device. The Inateck BK1003 Bluetooth Keyboard felt as solid as any standard desktop keyboard. It's made of quality materials, the keys are quiet and typing on it is very comfortable. It's small and easily portable, recharges from any USB port or charger, and pairs with Bluetooth devices almost instantly. Couple that with an attractive price and you've got a definite winner.