The growing popularity of Netbooks and tablet PCs such as the Apple iPad is breathing new life into the third-party wireless keyboard market. Matias offers a full-size variation with a portable twist that folds in half and includes a number pad on the side, but it has some serious design flaws. The $100 keyboard doesn't lock together, which makes it difficult to use anywhere except a flat surface (like your lap) and it doesn't offer anywhere close to the amount of extras features you get on the Apple Wireless Keyboard. If you're looking for an affordable input device for your laptop, Netbook, or tablet PC, Apple offers a more attractive solution.
Our biggest issue with the Matias Folding Bluetooth Keyboard is that it just feels too big and clumsy. In fact, Mathias' plain black finish and asymmetrical fold is almost an eyesore next to the clean, beveled lines of the Apple iPad. While Matias advertises the keyboard as portable, it's actually slightly longer than the iPad is, even when it's folded. It's a less than elegant partnership.
When opened, the Matias Folding Bluetooth keyboard is the same size as a standard desktop keyboard and measures 18-inches long by 5-inches wide. The layout is familiar, with a row of function (F1-F12) keys lining the top and three small buttons that control volume and mute on the top right corner. To save space, Matias beefs up the traditional Fn key and reroutes the navigational arrow keys on top of the "asdf" and "hjkl;" keys to give you quick access without leaving the home row. It's a neat feature, but it will take time to adjust to if you're used to having separate keys for everything.
Matias includes two AAA batteries to power the embedded Bluetooth module that connects the keyboard to a computer wirelessly. We linked it with an Apple iPad, an Apple iPhone, and an HP Netbook, but the pairing button is so irritatingly small that you have to use the end of a paper clip to establish a connection with a host computer. Once you have the devices paired up, a simple on/off button on the side is the only thing to press going forward.
Typing on the keyboard is tricky because there's no locking mechanism to keep the keyboard unfolded. It has two long rubber feet prevent it from "walking" around a hard surface, but it's impossible to use on your lap while sitting or lying in bed, as it has a tendency to snap shut, similar to those foldout guest beds you get in a cheap hotel.
Furthermore, the Matias Bluetooth Folding Keyboard uses dome-switch style keys that feel sluggish and almost sticky, and there's no satisfying "click" like the sound you hear on a standard ThinkPad laptop keyboard. In future models, we'd like to see more media control shortcut buttons and an auto-power button that would boost its usability for mobile professionals. In its present state, the official Apple Wireless Keyboard offers all of the same features in an attractive aluminum case with an intelligent power system for $30 cheaper, and we highly recommend it if you plan to use it with an iPad.