Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Pros:

  • Adds a physical keyboard to your iPhone
  • Mini USB for charging built-in battery
  • Large keys are shaped to avoid missteps

Cons:

  • Poor battery life
  • Bluetooth has trouble staying paired with the iPhone
  • On/Off switch is barey reachable unless you’ve got sticks for fingers
  • Awkward key layout

At the time, ditching your dumbphone for the iPhone probably seemed like a good idea, that is until you went toe-to-toe with Apple’s virtual keyboard. Some have no problem acclimating to the onscreen keyboard while others suffer through the process and eventually give up on the handset. But if you’re willing to undergo some extra bulk and an added cost you can once again relish in the haptic feedback of a QWERTY keyboard thanks to the fine folks at Thinkgeek.

ThinkGeek’s Bluetooth keyboard is just one of many products the company – which has long sold caffeinated products and other uber geek products – has been built in-house.

The TK-421 doubles the iPhone 3Gs’ thickness

The design of the keyboard leaves little to the imagination and actually begs the question if the person who designed the behemoth of a product had much of one. Let’s not mince words; Thinkgeek’s Bluetooth keyboard is so bulky it more than doubles the thickness of the iPhone and results in a rather large protrusion in your pants that will have your friends making sophomoric jokes that will transport you back to middle school.

The iPhone slips into a cheap plastic case that comes apart in two pieces and contains all the necessary ports to keep your camera, vibrate and volume switches exposed. Directly beneath it is a full QWERTY keyboard that swivels 180 degrees and lines up with the iPhone’s longest side, though it sits about 1.5cm below it; it’s not flush. An on/off switch allows you to save on battery life, but as I quickly learned it’s barely accessible since it’s placed so close to the hinge of the device, on the back, that you’ll need a pen or some sort of tipped item to reach it. On the front of the keyboard, on the top right side, there is a Bluetooth pairing button that requires a fingernail push and sits adjacent to a blue LED light that emits when pairing mode is engaged.

The on/off switch almost inaccessible thanks to the hinge

At this point in the game it’s difficult for me to go back to a QWERTY keyboard, especially after using a virtual one since the iPhone’s launch, which if memory is correct is going on 3+ year’s now. And unfortunately this keyboard doesn’t make it easy to become adjusted to using one. The delete key is unorthodoxly placed adjacent to the space bar key, which it too, is awkwardly small. To submit an apostrophe you’ll need to hold down the shift key and all of Apple’s keyboard shortcuts, such as auto caps at the beginning of a sentence and auto period at the end of the sentence have by default been turned off. The keyboard is not backlit, so as you can imagine it’s rather useless for after hours communication.  Adding to the visibility issues in low light, the secondary functions, such as apostrophes and quotes are marked in red, though the main functions are denoted in white.  However, the keys themselves are large, well spaced, responsive and are shaped accordingly to avoid a mispress of an adjacent key.

Despite its shortcomings, the TK-421′s keys are well spaced, though notice the delete key’s strange placement

Unfortunately, my experience with ThinkGeek’s Bluetooth keyboard was cut short since it was unable, from what I could gather, to hold a charge longer than 30 minutes and struggled to stay paired with my iPhone for more than 10 minutes; this resulted in my having to constantly pair the keyboard with my iPhone.

While I applaud Thinkgeek’s fervor into product development, their Bluetooth Keyboard for the iPhone is riddled with problems, sports an unsightly and bulky design and will hopefully be forgotten just as fast as it was conceived.

You can buy the Thinkgeek iPhone Bluetooth keyboard from Thinkgeek for $39.99.



Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."