BlackBerry Mini Keyboard beefs up PlayBook's business acumen

Transforming the RIM PlayBook into a superportable workhorse, the Mini Keyboard boosts the BlackBerry tablet's productivity potential.


RIM's new accessory is something even PlayBook haters of the world can grudgingly give a nod. Attaching to the much-maligned tablet, the Mini Keyboard harnesses the PlayBook's new-found native e-mail capabilities to provide a laptop level of functionality on the go.

The Mini Keyboard is similar to add-ons sold by Targus, Belkin, and others for iPad and Android slates. Basically a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, the product comes with its own case that houses the PlayBook plus doubles as a stand. The Mini Keyboard also features a touch pad that's set up to comprehend the PlayBook's unique screen gestures. Tapping with two fingers on the pad will act as a right click too, helpful when running the Windows Virtual Desktop via the Citrix Receiver app.

At just 6 millimeters (0.24 inch) thick, the Mini Keyboard and PlayBook combo is much more manageable than a traditional notebook, and battery life I imagine is better too. The question is just how stable and reliable connecting to your desktop or office-parked laptop is using this setup. For someone who lugs a massive portable Windows computer to and from the office everyday, something small yet boasting a rock-solid link to work apps would make life much better. I'd also stop wearing out beloved bags.

At $119.99, the Mini Keyboard isn't cheap, but it does offer the very paranoid (and typical IT czars) tight 128-bit encryption of your wireless keystrokes. Charged up through a Mini-USB port, the device should also provide up to 30 days of battery life, RIM says.

About the author

Brian Bennett is senior editor for appliances at CNET and reviews a wide range of household and smart-home products. These include everything from microwave ovens, blenders, ranges and coffee makers to personal weather stations. An NYC native, Brian now resides in bucolic Louisville, Kentucky where he dreams of someday owning the sparkling house of the future.


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