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.

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by Iyaz Akhtar