Android has supported the Bluetooth HID profile, which stands for Human Interface Device and is usually seen in connection with Bluetooth wireless keyboards, since version 1.6. However, not all manufacturers have included the necessary code to allow our devices to work with keyboards, although these days the majority of devices come with support baked in. Part of the reason is because Bluetooth wireless keyboards are now relatively commonplace and affordable, which means more customers want to use an accessory with their particular device. Another part of the reason is because more customers are using a tablet, where a keyboard is an ideal accessory as it helps make the device somewhat more productive. However, just as not all keyboards are the same, nor are all wireless keyboards. As well as the layout, key spacing and feel, we also need to consider the batteries: some use replaceable AA or AAA batteries whereas others have internal rechargeable batteries.
Today, I am writing about the Inateck BK1003E Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard. My review model is finished in white with a British keyboard layout as this is my native tongue, and I am reviewing the device from the United Kingdom. The keyboard has an internal, non user-replaceable rechargeable battery with a claimed battery life running to four months. Over the course of six weeks of testing and using the keyboard, I did not need to recharge the battery, but when it's time to top up the Inateck comes with a standard MicroUSB port. The manual states that the keyboard's battery needs a couple of hours to go from empty to full in order to fully charge it. My particular review model is finished in white, but Inateck also sell a black model too.
As you can see from the pictures, the BK1003E is a slender, svelte design. It has a beautiful curve from the bottom of the keyboard up to the top. The keys are well spaced and have a solid, pleasing stroke about them. It's still a portable keyboard, but it's a comfortable keyboard to type on and I had no problems adapting to the layout. I type around 10,000 words a week on my wireless portable keyboard and it's important that it's both comfortable and portable. Here, turning the keyboard upside down shows off one reason why it is comfortable: the back consists almost exclusively of a stainless steel plate, which keeps the keyboard solid when using. On the underside, there's a simple power switch and four rubberized feet to keep the keyboard still when being used. The keyboard is solid and creak-free.
To pair up the keyboard with a mobile device, simply power it on and tap the Bluetooth key ("Fn" and "c"), then go to your Bluetooth settings menu and look for the Inateck BK1003E in the found devices. Tap. Wait a few seconds. Done. Once paired the first time, it is easy to reconnect the device to your smartphone or tablet, however the keyboard does not appear to support pairing with multiple devices, as pairing it a second time makes it forget the first device. Inateck have included "Android," "Windows" and "iOS" button shortcuts, which appear to change the media shortcut key configuration depending on the platform you are connecting the device to, but make very little difference to how the device works day to day.
So, the keyboard looks great, is well made and comfortable to type on, it's easy to pair up and the battery lasts a long time... what's not to like? Unfortunately, during my testing there were two minor issues. One is that the keyboard appears to suffer from Bluetooth interference. Occasionally, in use the keyboard will stick on a typed character such that I will look back at my document and rather than type, "three cheesecakes, please?" I have instead typed "thhhhhhhhhree cheeseeeeeeecakes,,,,,,,, please?" Cycling Bluetooth, rebooting the device in question, re-pairing the keyboard all make no difference to the connection. Another issue I discovered is that the keyboard would also occasionally disconnect - the tablet would pop up the on-screen keyboard for a few seconds until the device would reconnect. I tested the wireless keyboard with a total of three Android tablets, and I have used a total of three wireless keyboards and unfortunately it's the Inateck that has the issue. The only pattern was that I was using the device in a public space with more devices around me. Another weird issue that I would sometimes get with the Inateck is that the "2" key would instead show "4." Holding "SHIFT" and the "2" key still produces the double quotation mark; again, there was no obvious cause for this, but sometimes disconnecting and reconnecting the keyboard would solve the issue.
Despite these issues, I can recommend the Inateck BK1003E keyboard. Over the course of six weeks and somewhere north of sixty five thousand words, I had two days when the repeating character glitch caused me grief in my morning writing haunt. For the rest of the time, the keyboard behaved superbly. The Inateck BK10003E is available from Amazon UK at the very reasonable sum of £23.99, which is something of a bargain.