HP Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard review: HP Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Easy setup; spacious keys; keyboard lock.

The Bad Flimsy PDA stand; expensive; works only with HP iPaqs.

The Bottom Line The HP Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard is the perfect travel companion for your Bluetooth-enabled iPaq.

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HP Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard

It's no secret that HP produces workhorse PDAs, so it's also no surprise that the company would release accessories to complement these productivity tools. The HP Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard is a particular boon for mobile professionals who need a travel-friendly method to work from the road. The keyboard is compatible with any of the Bluetooth-enabled iPaqs, ranging from the earlier H1900 series to the latest hx2000 series. With an expensive $129.99 price tag, it might appeal to only the executive, but you get a well-designed and effective keyboard for the money.

At 5.7 by 3.9 by 0.8 inches when closed and 6.5 ounces without batteries, the HP Bluetooth Foldable Keyboard is neither the most compact nor the bulkiest portable keyboard we've seen. Sporting a classic silver-and-black casing, the HP keyboard closely resembles the Belkin model with its simple accordion form factor. A button on the right side unlocks the keyboard, which opens just like a book. There is a sliding lock button on the top of device, which we always appreciate because it allows you to work on uneven surfaces. The PDA stand sits just above the lock lever, and you can position your device in either landscape or portrait mode. However, since the apparatus is flimsy, we wouldn't place the keyboard on anything but a flat surface for fear that the handheld would slip right off the stand. There are four rubber grips on the outside cover of the keyboard that prevent it from doing the slip-and-slide on your desk.

Installation and setup is a breeze. We simply downloaded the driver from HP's Web site, and then performed an ActiveSync operation on our test device, the iPaq hx2750--if you blink, you'll miss the whole process. You'll then find a Foldable Keyboard utility under the Programs menu where you can adjust the key-repeat rate, assign as many as 10 hot keys, enable sound, and more. To make the keyboard discoverable, press the tiny button located in the upper right corner (next to the battery case), and an LED will blink orange when it's ready for pairing. Next, check the Enable Keyboard box on the Foldable Keyboard's main menu and follow the prompts. The whole process is mapped out in the handy user guide--everything worked without a hitch. It was a breath of fresh air, especially after having to deal with the hassle of setting up the VKB Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard .

We're happy to report that using the HP Bluetooth keyboard was painless, too. With an 18mm key-pitch and a 2.3mm key-travel, the keys were spacious, and we had no problems firing off notes, e-mails, and the like. There are dedicated numeral keys at the top along with the corresponding symbols you would find on a regular keyboard; just press the Fn button to access them. You can also launch your handheld's main applications, such as your in-box, contacts, and Microsoft Word and Excel by using the Fn button. You'll find a couple of pleasant surprises: shortcuts to more obscure symbols, such as the British pound sign, and a keyboard shortcut for checking the keyboard's battery strength. The HP Bluetooth keyboard operates on two AAA batteries (included).

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