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Have you ever been somewhere with your cell phone – no computer – and really wanted a computer keyboard to type on? There have been a few times when I’ve been stuck typing out an entire blog post on my phone, with my thumbs. Not fun. But this laser keyboard might help. And while this product definitely won’t replace your computer keyboard, it’s pretty freaking cool.
The Virtual Keyboard from Brookstone projects a laser keyboard onto a table, and then you type on it. It connects to most Apple and Android devices via Bluetooth. I also had no problem connecting it to my Vaio laptop and Surface via Bluetooth. (I was asked to verify a code each time, even though the Virtual Keyboard didn’t display one, so I just said yes and was connected.) I could not, however, get it to work with my Windows Phone, so the other two people using Windows Phones may be disappointed. The rest of you, though, will probably be able to pair it with your device no problem.
From the manual:
Connection via Bluetooth does not require installation of a separate driver.
BLUETOOTH compatible devices
• iOS (iPhone® 3GS or later, all versions of iPad® & iPad® mini)
• Android™* 2.0 and later with human interface driver
• Windows® XP or higher
• Windows Phone 7 or higher
• Mac® OS**
*Some restrictions apply to AndroidTM devices. Android devices must have an HID
driver to work with the Virtual Keyboard.
**Using keyboard only
So it should work with my Windows Phone, which is running 8.1. I’ll mess around with it some more and let you know if I get it to work. But connecting with everything else I tried was very easy. It can also be connected to many computers via USB. It comes with a USB cable, which is also used for charging. There’s a little metal ring on one corner for putting it on a keychain or lanyard.
Typing with this keyboard is easy, you just have to remember to keep your fingers hovering above the keyboard, not resting on it. I tried it in low light and bright light and while it worked about the same in both cases, it was easier to see in the darker room. However, even directly under my dining room light I was able to see the keys. They get a little dim on the ends, but it’s a standard keyboard layout so your fingers probably have a good idea of what’s what anyway.
Accuracy was good, not great, but I think with practice that could be improved a lot. (Watch the video at the end of the post to see how I did.)
The sensitivity, brightness, and volume of the keyboard can all be controlled easily. The Virtual Keyboard goes into sleep mode after 90 seconds of non-use to conserve battery, but can be woken up with a wave of the hand, still connected.
This is definitely a novelty product, not a serious work product – you’re not going to be getting rid of your keyboard in favor of this any time soon. But if I were out at a restaurant or a conference and had to type a long post, I would definitely choose the Virtual Keyboard over the keyboard on my phone.
Besides, just the “wow” factor when I brought it out and turned it on would be worth the price! This would make a great stocking stuffer for people like me who love gadgets.
The version that I tried is red, and there is a newer, brighter green version. You can buy them at Brookstone stores and on Brookstone.com.
See it in action: