By Hugh John
Why get out your laptop or notebook to send an email when it’s so much easier to fire one off from your mobile phone? But there is something primitive, painful almost, about confident technophiles reduced to two fingered ‘hunt and peck’ typing by the size of their mobile keypads. Even the slenderest of fingers can struggle with this level of miniaturisation.
There is a solution. The Freedom Pro Keyboard is a dinky, foldable device that fits snugly into a leather case measuring 163 by 103mm and just over 19 mm thick, small enough to stow away in a coat or even trouser pocket. Opened out and ready for action it’s 319.2 by 102.9 by 9.6 mm, comparable in size to a laptop keyboard.
Setting up the keyboard is a doddle and takes no more than 5 minutes. The Freedom Pro communicates with a mobile phone via Bluetooth and once the two devices have been paired there’s no need for further adjustments other than turning on the Bluetooth function when you want to start typing. (Well, that’s the theory, but the review model did throw a few “I’m not communicating” hissy fits.) Two AAA batteries are unobtrusively housed in the side of the keyboard.
A small, sliding lock secures the two hinged parts of the unit which is made entirely of plastic and weighs in at a skinny 258g. One does wonder whether some sort of aluminium or light metal frame would have given more rigidity but this obviously impinges on factors such as price and weight. In the hands of a careful teacher it could last into old age but typing with the keyboard balanced on one’s knees, for example, is inviting trouble.
The big plus of this keyboard is productivity anywhere and any time, and this is what could make it attractive to the education community. With the Freedom Keyboard you type as you would on a 'normal’ computer keyboard making use of the five rows of keys. These include a dedicated numeral set - Control, Alt, Delete, Function - and a bank of quick-launch keys for making and ending phone calls and accessing the multimedia functions of your smart phone. There is also the option of eight user-defined shortcuts.
If you make or take extensive notes when away from base and don’t like the idea of terse, truncated emails (isn’t there something rather apologetic about the ‘Sent from my Blackberry’ or ‘Sent from my Nokia’ message?) then this could well be the device you’re looking for. With a decent battery life (more than 90 hours in active use) and hardly any extra weight to lug around, this well engineered and responsive keyboard will make friends with almost every smartphone on the market with the exception of the rather standoffish and insular iPhone!
In short, it's one ingenious gizmo that's well worth considering if you’re looking for a portable, stylish solution for keeping even more in touch while on the hoof.
Ratings (out of 5)
Fitness for purpose 4.5
Ease of use 4
Value for money 3
The Freedom Pro Keyboard
Lightweight, fold-away keyboard for use with mobile phones, priced at £89 (online discounts available).