Hands-on test: Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard
For the mobile or holidaying writer, keen to travel light and slim down both their portable office and their carry-on luggage, this folding Bluetooth keyboard from Kanex is ideal.
One of the quietly seismic changes of the smartphone and app revolution is that for writing on the go and generally monitoring and maintaining your digital life, you no longer need a laptop. With ever-more powerful smartphones and tablets and more sophisticated writing apps available to us, with everything saved and stored in the Cloud, we can travel lighter than ever, replicating and even replacing our desktop and laptop environments.
However, one of the less satisfactory areas of relying on smartphones or tablets whilst on the road is the typing experience. For some devices, there might be a manufacturer solution (at a cost), such as Apple’s Smart Keyboard for iPad or Microsoft’s Surface Pro with its attached keyboard, but these are still large additions to the tablet’s mass. They’re also tethered to one device.
The more elegant approach would be to have a standalone, portable Bluetooth keyboard, one that supports multiple devices and operating systems and preferably folds down smaller than the average man’s wallet. Enter the Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard.
Measuring a diminutive 1.3cm tall and 16.3cm wide when folded and weighing next to nothing, this neat little keyboard can support four different devices simultaneously, with dedicated one-touch function buttons on the keyboard for instant switching from Mac to PC, or from iOS to Android device.
The welded construction of the protective outer case is reassuringly solid, with the soft-touch keys kept safe inside. Once opened, the keyboard is ergonomically split into a V-shape layout, which is a very nice feature and saves serious wrist strain because you don’t have to force your hands into an uncomfortable parallel position to type. Your hands fall naturally into the mirrored shallow-angle position that matches this keyboard’s split.
The case also features a magnetic closure to keep your folding keyboard folded and the device enters sleep mode when you shut it. Opening the keyboard again automatically wakes it, ready for use.
Pairing with a device is straightforward: using Bluetooth 3.0, you just select it as a new device and it’s remembered. No drivers are necessary and there is no software to install. We paired our new folding friend with an iPhone, a Mac Mini, a PC and an Apple TV box and it worked perfectly each time. The keyboard officially supports Mac OS 10.6 and above, iOS 7 and above, Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 and Android 4.0 and above.
The keyboard is powered by a rechargeable 110mAh lithium ion battery, which lasted for hours between charges – several days’ worth of real-world use when used for a few hours every day, in our experience. If you were typing constantly for eight or nine hours every day your mileage may vary, but charging it up is easy enough with the included micro USB cable. An LED light on the keyboard shows the state of the battery: green means there’s life left, red warns you that it’s time to recharge soon, while blue indicates a Bluetooth connection.
The physical keys themselves are thoughtfully laid out and go beyond the basic range of alphanumeric characters, offering a suite of supplementary controls and hot buttons, such as Home on iOS devices, Search, Select All and Cut/Copy/Paste commands, media playback and volume controls, four arrow keys and Control, Alt and Command keys. It is essentially a standard desktop keyboard in miniature. Plus it’s wireless. And foldable. And you can fit it in the back pocket of your jeans.
This is a really nice piece of kit for anyone who needs to write more than a tweet or an Instagram post on the go. Typing on a physical keyboard is always preferable to tapping at a glass screen and the keys on this Kanex have a nice action and tactile response. The range of additional functions on offer also mean that you almost never have to touch your device’s touchscreen again to operate it and being entirely wireless, your device can also be well out of arm’s reach and you’re still in full control.
The fact that you can easily switch between four stored devices for a variety of scenarios – e.g. home laptop, office desktop, smartphone on the train, media server at a friend’s house – greatly extends the keyboard’s usefulness. Given that it’s so small when folded, it’s no problem at all to sling it in your bag or jacket pocket and have it with you at all times, ready to type anywhere, on any device. Wonderful news for writers with wanderlust.