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Portable keyboard could be just your type

This compact wireless keyboard is small and light enough to carry easily, but its aluminium chassis feels exceptionally sturdy. The rounded keys are of the tile variety, but mostly full-size, and we found them comfortable and accurate when typing. The internal battery arrived charged (we’d expect it to last months), and as soon as we turned on the power switch the KB3 went into Bluetooth-pairing mode. Its name appeared in our iPad’s Bluetooth settings, and tapping this connected it. Apple’s keyboard layout is slightly different, and the alternative character assignments are printed on the keys in red. To activate these you hold down the Fn key+E. That might not seem an obvious choice, but the E key is marked ‘iOS OS X’ in blue and the Fn key is labelled in blue, so we guessed without referring to the small manual. There are similar options for Android and Windows, but the KB3 doesn’t support Windows Phone or Windows Mobile.

Flexible connectivity and comfortable keys for all except iPad users

Wired connection is also possible.

Attaching the supplied microUSB cable to a PC did nothing at first, but the ‘1’ and ‘2’ keys provide another Fn option, switching between Bluetooth and USB connection. Pressing Fn+2 activates the wired connection, and Fn+W switches to Windows keyboard layout. The top row of keys serve both as standard function keys and for adjustments such as brightness and volume, which worked as you’d expect. When we pressed Fn+1 to switch back to the wireless connection, we could continue typing on the iPad immediately, which is very handy. As with most keyboards, you can only pair with one wireless device at a time.

There’s just one problem. In Apple mode, the key labelled ‘Alt’ switches to ‘Cmd’. But Apple devices also use an ‘Alt’ key (sometimes labelled ‘Option’). On the KB3, the right Ctrl key switches to this modifier, but our fingers kept going to the left Alt key and getting the wrong result.

This happened a lot, because Alt is used to produce curly quote marks on Apple keyboards. It’s also used to insert accented characters, and with the E key, this simply didn’t work (we got a dollar sign instead). That’s a bug which could potentially be fixed with a firmware update, but the key layout is a trickier problem. It would have made a lot more sense to use the Windows key (labelled with a Penclic logo) as Cmd.

SPECIFICATIONS

79-key compact Bluetooth keyboard • Function/system keys • Rechargeable battery • MicroUSB port • Compatible with Windows (desktop only), iOS, OS X & Android • 10x280x116mm (HxWxD) • 284g

VERDICT:

Although pricey, this is one of the best portable keyboards we’ve seen. It’s just a shame the layout is flawed for iPad users

ALTERNATIVE:

Logitech K780

This can pair with three Bluetooth devices at once, as well as any PC, and comes with a simple tablet stand

8 Total Score
Penclic KB3 Review

Although pricey, this is one of the best portable keyboards we’ve seen. It’s just a shame the layout is flawed for iPad users

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