Tiny little smartphone keyboards are great…if you are a teen or tween or even a Millennial. I watch my kids simply fly over the on-screen keyboards at lightning-fast speeds, writing vast amounts of text in literally seconds. I, being an “old dad” (ancient if you ask my kids), can type reasonably quickly on my iPhone but not at the levels and speeds they can. My wife hates on-screen keyboards and has quite a few Bluetooth keyboards that she uses. The problem is, many of those Bluetooth keyboards are bulky and not practical for carrying around in a purse or bag. Then I showed her two new portable, Bluetooth keyboards from Kanex, the MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard with Full Number Pad and the MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard. (*Disclosure below.)
When looking for a portable, Bluetooth keyboard, there are some requirements and features I like to keep in mind. And, while these are relatively personal, they are definitely items you should think about, especially if you are going to be using the keyboard regularly. Here are the features I look for in a travel keyboard, many of which I will go into a bit later:
- Has to be lightweight
- Must have a good battery life
- Should have function keys or the ability to support other keypresses
- Not be large when in transport
- As close to full size as possible
- Attach via Bluetooth to multiple devices
Again, these are the things that I look for. My wife, for example, likes having more “clicky” and tactile keys, much more like gaming keyboards where you have physical feedback when a key is clicked. In fact, she uses a gaming keyboard at her desk in our bedroom (so it’s pretty hard to sleep when she’s working). I, on the other hand, like the soft-touch (and quieter) keyboards that don’t have too much travel (e.g., how far the key presses down for it to register). But again, it’s a personal preference. I do recommend that when you are shopping for a keyboard of any type that you test it out for the travel, the sound, and the size.
Let’s take a look at these two keyboards from Kanex. They are similar in many ways but do have some subtle differences as well.
Mini-Review: Kanex MultiSync Foldable Keyboard with Full Number Pad (or Trackpad)
I’m going to start with the Kanex Foldable Keyboard that has a full number pad. But before I do, I have to note that there is another version of this keyboard that has a trackpad instead of a number pad. I’m not quite sure why I requested the number pad version to review (I’m not an accountant or work with numbers much). In hindsight, I should have asked for the trackpad version which would work better with laptop and tablets/smartphones. The trackpad allows you to scroll through webpages a bit more easily and has right- and left-click buttons as well.
Regardless, both versions have almost identical features and functions.
For starters, these keyboards are tri-fold, meaning they fold up into something quite small and portable. To give you an idea of dimensions, the photos you see here are compared against an iPad Mini. Actual dimensions for both the number pad and trackpad versions are:
- Opened: 3.80 in. x 0.20 in. x 15.66 in. (W x H x L)
- Folded: 3.80 in. x 0.59 in. x 5.16 in. (W x H x L)
So, folded, they are slightly thicker and wider than my iPhone XS Max but not quite as long. The Kanex website doesn’t list the weight so I weighed the keyboard on our kitchen scale and it came in at 5.3 ounces (151 grams)!
In terms of the actual size of the keyboards, the photo shows how the Kanex compares against a MacBook Pro’s keyboard. You can see that it is slightly smaller, I’m guessing about 85% of full size. The keys themselves are about the same size as my Mac’s keyboard (with a few exceptions). I do have to call out the fact that the semi-colon key is much smaller than on a traditional keyboard, so it does take some time to get used to the reduced size.
But there are two Shift keys on either side (Yay!) – I have tested some keyboards where the Shift key that I use is simply missing. And there are arrow keys as well (like the Mac keyboard). The dedicated number pad also has arrow keys, but you can lock the function to be purely numbers.
And, there are dedicated function keys as well. With these (and they are noted in blue on the keyboard), you have to press the FN (function key) at the same time as the desired function key. But, you have things like volume control, music playback control, search, copy/cut/paste, and some additional characters. There is even a Home button that acts as the home button on an iPhone.
The Kanex Bluetooth keyboard allows you to connect to up to four different Bluetooth-enabled devices. This could be smartphones, tablets, or even computers. For example, you might have a stand for your laptop to get the screen more at eye-level. But then you need to have a keyboard (and mouse or trackpad) to allow you to interact with it. If the riser you have is portable, adding one of these Kanex keyboards is a no-brainer and makes the solution extremely portable.
Pairing to a device is easy. Simply press the FN key and then one of the four Bluetooth keys (Z, X, C, or V) and then look for the Kanex keyboard on your tablet, smartphone, or computer, and select it. Once paired, the keyboard remembers the device. You can actually switch between paired devices easily by pressing the FN key AND the appropriate Bluetooth key (Z, X, C, or V).
If you ever need to reset the keyboard and paired devices, just press and hold FN and both of the Shift keys for about five seconds.
There is a micro-USB port on the top side which allows you to charge up the keyboard. The keyboard has a 250 mAh battery which should last quite a long time (days, weeks, or longer – I haven’t tested it out).
Three tiny lights indicate battery and connectivity levels. A Green light means that it is charged, Red means that it needs to be charged, and Blue means that you are connected via Bluetooth.
As I mentioned, typing on this Kanex keyboard does take some getting used to. But after just a little bit of time, I was able to type fairly quickly. You do have to retrain your right pinky to feel for the smaller semi-colon key, but that is about it from my initial tests.
Oh, and one more thing, when you close the keyboard, it is held in place with light magnets. This also will automatically turn off the keyboard (as well as turn it on when you open it up).
Mini-Review: Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard
So, the other Kanex Bluetooth keyboard that I tested out was the one that didn’t have the trackpad nor the number pad. Instead of being a tri-fold keyboard, it is a bi-fold (folds in half). For the most part, many of the functions that I described earlier (pairing, number of devices you can pair, function keys, magnetic closure, and charging) are identical to the other keyboard with the number pad.
But there are some differences as well. As I mentioned, this keyboard folds in half instead of in threes. The keys themselves are almost the same size (again, the semi-colon is a bit smaller and takes some getting used to). But one big thing that is different is that this keyboard is more ergonomic. In fact, it is slanted at the split which allows your arms to rest at a more natural position. This outward split lets you type in a more relaxed posture, which means that you can probably type for a more extended period of time. But again, this is a personal preference.
The other main difference is the size and weight. Here are the dimensions of this Kanex Bluetooth keyboard:
- Opened: 4.00-4.50 in. x ~0.20 in. x 13.00 in. (W x H x L) – at its widest points (hand measured)
- Folded: 3.80 in. x 0.51 in. x 6.42 in. (W x H x L)
And, the weight is 5.9 ounces (168 grams), so it does weigh slightly more than the other keyboard.
Lastly, the battery capacity is smaller, coming in at 110 mAh. This is probably because it doesn’t have to power a trackpad or number pad. It still will provide you with hours of typing without needing a charge.
Lightweight Bluetooth Keyboards To Go!
Both of these Kanex Bluetooth travel keyboards are designed to be small, lightweight, yet fully functional and capable. They can connect to iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS via a simple Bluetooth 3.0 connection, and they can remember up to four devices.
Because they are so lightweight, you can just throw them into a bag or purse and practically forget that they are even there. That is until you really need them. Typing on a physical keyboard that is almost full-size is much more comfortable, in my opinion, than trying to peck and type using an on-screen keyboard. These would be great for students, writers, travelers, or anyone who simply wants to have a physical keyboard.
These Kanex Bluetooth travel keyboards are also reasonably priced:
- MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard with Full Number Pad – $69.95 (and available on Amazon for $69.95)
- MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard with Trackpad – $59.95 (not available on Amazon yet )
- MultiSync Foldable Travel Keyboard – $49.95 (on Amazon for $37.00)
As the tri-fold travel keyboards are relatively new, they haven’t yet appeared on Amazon, but I expect that once they do, their Amazon price will be slightly lower than the MSRP so be sure to keep an eye open for them to hit the Marketplace.
Regardless, I do find it funny how we switched away from physical keyboards on smartphones to software-based keyboards. And now, people are starting to realize that sometimes having a physical keyboard for longer typing periods is a bit better. And Kanex is right there to help!
HTD says: The Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel keyboards, with or without a trackpad or number pad, are great gifts for any type of writer. Heck, you may want to just pick one up for yourself if you really want to crank out some writing using a physical keyboard on a tablet or smartphone.
- Price Point
The Kanex MultiSync Foldable Travel keyboards, with or without a trackpad or number pad, are great gifts for any type of writer. Heck, you may want to just pick one up for yourself if you really want to crank out some writing using a physical keyboard on a tablet or smartphone. These Kanex Bluetooth keyboards are extremely easy to pair with various Bluetooth devices (iOS, Android, Windows, or MacOS), and you can pair up to four devices. Switching between connected devices is easy. While these keyboards are slightly smaller than standard keyboards (probably about 85% of the size), even with larger hands, it is fairly easy to type quickly and comfortably. The price point is reasonable, but I would recommend waiting until the price lowers a bit when the newer versions hit the Amazon Marketplace. The fact that these keyboards are so lightweight and fold up into a small size make them ideal travel companions for any Bluetooth device.
- Extremely lightweight
- Very portable
- Easy to set up
- Small semi-colon key
- No back-lit keys