A few months ago, I upgraded my Android phone from the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint to the Motorola Photon from Sprint. My motivation for doing so was because the company I work for was going to pay for my smart phone use, and the Evo wasn’t one of their approved devices. This is currently saving me about $70 a month in expenses, aiding in my quest to be debt free even faster. This makes for a happier tinkering geek.
While owned the HTC Evo, I had purchased a Microsoft Bluetooth keyboard and number pad with the intention of using them with the phone for typing long entries using my smart phone: Such as WordPress blogs (this one for instance), emails to family while out and about, or when I am unable to stop myself from responding to “Somebody Who Is Wrong On The Internet”.
I was sadly disappointed that, at least at that time, my prized HTC Evo could not connect to this Bluetooth keyboard. At least not to the one I had bought. Subsequent searches online revealed that another brand of Bluetooth Keyboard “might” work. However, being the tightwad that I can be sometimes, I didn’t want to spend more money on it. I either waited until I had my laptop or endured typing on the tiny keyboard on my phone. The Bluetooth keyboard set sat on the shelf unused until now.
I am pleasantly suprised at my comfort level for viewing the screen of the new smartphone while it is propped up in front of the keyboard on the built in kickstand. Typing was not at all difficult to get started with, once the two devices were paired. However, I did have to figure out how to get rid of the on screen keyboard so that I might view the whole screen on the phone as I typed. It turns out that holding down the Ctrl key will toggle the on-screen keyboard off and on.
Before I could use the keyboard, I did need to pair it with the Photon. This involved turning on the Bluetooth function and then searching for available devices. On the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard, I had to turn it on and press a small button near the power switch in order to start the pairing process. Then on both devices I had to enter the same pairing code, which was 0000. I then had to repeat this process for the Bluetooth numpad. I am using the Microsoft Bluetooth Moblile Keyboard 6000 that comes with the a number pad that is not attached. The set retails for about $45 on Amazon.com. You can purchase the keyboard without the number pad for less.
My experience shows that it is worth lugging around the small keyboard and number pad in a backpack or small bag for those times when you just do not want to carry your laptop along with you. However, you will get strange stares from people and interrupted with questions such as, “And just why would you want to do that?” My initial response was, “Because I can!”, but in reality some of it has to do with Geek credit and the rest with convenience.
It does use the battery of the phone a bit faster, due to Bluetooth being enabled and the display being on longer. Plus, the two keyboards use 3 AAA batteries between them. However, if I were typing the same amount with my on-screen keyboard, my thumbs would be tired and I would be using more battery on my phone. I do have the option to use rechargeable batteries in the keyboards. Time will tell how long they will last. I could also plug in the Android while I were typing, however I would have to disengage the kickstand and lay it down flat on the table. On a side note, I have recently downloaded a battery management app for the Android called 2x Battery, which I highly recommend.
Conceivably, I could connect the Photon to a desktop display with the HDMI cable, add a Bluetooth mouse, and use the smartphone as a capable, yet tiny, computer. That is if the display would actually clone the screen of my Photon and allow the use of the mouse cursor. On my previous phone, the Evo, the HDMI cable only allowed the viewing of playing video on the external monitor. A keyboard with a built in touchpad, might be a better option than a mouse.
When I was interrupted, and stopped typing until the Photon timed out, and the screen when dark. A push of a key on the Bluetooth keyboard reactivated the screen. At one point I was interrupted at length, which resulted in having to swipe the screen on my smart phone to unlock it and type in the password. Thankfully, I was able to type that from the Bluetooth keyboard without trouble, but it could be done on the screen as well.
My overall assessment is 4 GeekTinker Credits out of 5, as the process of adjusting to using the keyboard is just a tad wonky. Still, it does what I intended it to do. Gone are the days of lugging a laptop around just in case I might want to type something larger than a single paragraph into my phone.
Pros: Not having to type with my thumbs or using the small on-screen keyboard. Minor Geek Tinker credit, mostly from other geeks.
Cons: Pairing the two devices can have a steep learning curve. Tab does not move the cursor to a next field. Uses battery at a faster rate. Strange looks from other people. Embarrassing the friends that are with you, although this could be a pro in some cases.
If you think you might enjoy using a Bluetooth Keyboard with
your smart phone and $45 is in your budget for one, this Microsoft combination should fit the bill.