Bluetooth is one of those additions to the wireless market which has really changed the way in which products talk and communicate with each other. As a result, the variance of products which are now available as Bluetooth-enabled is growing considerably. While there are lines which remain a dominant and obvious choice, like speakers for instance, it is the rest of the accessory market in which we are seeing a substantial level of growth coming through. The PC accessory market is one such area where Bluetooth is making a big impact with the various Bluetooth keyboards and mice that are now available. However, due to the universal functionality of Bluetooth, these accessories can easily be ported over to use with non-PC devices, like smartphones. A prime example of such a porting is the Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard from 1byone.com. This is a Bluetooth keyboard which can be used with a PC, but is also one which is purpose-designed to be able to be used with Android devices too. Be them smartphones or tablets.
Design & Hardware
When it comes to design, black is very much the color of choice here. The 1byone wireless keyboard does adopt a very minimalist design and look. The keyboard is largely black all over with only minimal metal accents including a small runner across the bottom of the device (which is presumably designed to protect the keyboard from drops and so on). Otherwise, we are looking at an extremely generic looking keyboard. That said, this is not necessarily deemed to be a bad thing. The keyboard might look quite run-of-the-mill, but the minimalist approach seems to work in it's favor as it more naturally fits in with a greater number of devices. Keeping in mind that this is a keyboard which is designed to also work with Android smartphones and tablets, the use of the all-black color has its merit. Not to mention, the black color was a nice change from the more common white i-related options you will routinely encounter.
In terms of the size, this is a small keyboard. It is not massively small but it is quite likely to be smaller than what you are currently using as a keyboard. As well as being small, it is also incredible slim and probably a lot slimier than what you might expect too. The benefit of such a profile and size is that this is a very portable unit. You could quite easily slide this keyboard into your case, bag or otherwise and bring it with you without really noticing the additional size or weight. So for those who need a keyboard when away from home, this is size-wise and weight-wise a very suitable solution. The downside however, is that the size does hinder its usefulness at times. Depending on your size and stature, there is the tendency to be a little more hunched over the keyboard. Beyond the size, the general layout of the rest of the keyboard is as you would expect, the buttons are recessed buttons and do come with enough depth for them to be firmly used and pressed. Likewise, they do come with a nice and firm 'click' as well.
Moving away from the buttons and off to the right of the keyboard is the mouse/trackpad. This consists of a small 2-inch by 2-inch trackpad which comes flanked by two buttons underneath for right and left activation. Again, the position of the trackpad along with the keyboard proved both positive and negative when it comes to its usefulness. In fact, the criticisms are pretty much in line with the criticisms of the keyboard overall. The trackpad is on the small side and is quite compact which can at times, make it more difficult to use. Although, again, the benefit is that you do essentially have a fully functional trackpad in place along with a fully functional QWERTY keyboard and all wrapped up within a small and portable unit.
If there was one minor criticism to bring up is that there is no means to adjust the height of the keyboard. The height the keyboard naturally sits as it is and this is all you have to deal with. It is not a massive issue as the keyboard does come with a lip on the top part providing some angular degree. It is just not an adjustable lip.
Connectivity & Performance
This is a Bluetooth keyboard and that does mean it can pretty much connect to any and all devices. During testing, we were using the keyboard along with a Bluetooth-enabled laptop, tablet and various smartphones and in all instances, the keyboard was able to establish a good and reliable connection and without any major issues noted. On offer here is Bluetooth 3.0, which does mean it is not the most up-to-date Bluetooth version. However, in this instance, as the Bluetooth is only being used to make a connection and not actually transmit any substantial data, this is more than enough of a connection for the job at hand.
In terms of maintaining a connection, overall the experience was a positive one. Occasionally the Bluetooth would drop off and require it to be reestablished, although this was typically quite an easy to do chore. Just flick the switch on the back of the keyboard and it would instantly reestablish itself again. So nothing too dramatic here. And in truth, the level of connection-drop compared to the hours of continued usage was minimal. Moving on and the response and latency of the keyboard is extremely good. It was actually a little surprising as to how responsive the keyboard is. It is very quick and does transpose the signal extremely well. You will not have too many issues in this respect. Likewise, although the actual design was criticized a little for being small, the use of the keyboard for typing is excellent and quick with the buttons remaining a decent button-size, in spite of the overall compact nature. Buttons respond well and after using the keyboard exclusively and for prolonged periods there did not seem to be any wearage or general inconsistency issues noted.
The mouse/trackpad was a little less forgiving on the other hand. There were no major issues with the tracking and overall, it does again work extremely well. However, personally, the trackpad is a little on the stiff side, which meant it did feel a little hard to really drag the mouse without applying too much pressure. Of course, this is something which might soften with more use, although, in the period tested, it was just a little on the stiff side. That aside, the mouse is one which comes with swipe and gesture support. So if you are using it with Windows for instance, you will be able to scroll up, down, zoom in and out with ease and just like you would on a native trackpad. Likewise, when using an Android smartphone or tablet, the keyboard also adopts much of the same functionality, allowing the user to scroll down web pages, click using the trackpad and generally navigate the pages with ease. When using with an Android device, the keyboard also has the ability to scroll through the apps and app pages on the smartphone (or tablet) homescreens. This can be done both with the trackpad or simply by using the navigation arrow keys on the keyboard. There are also a number of other keys as well which ave been designed to run more naturally with Android. So for instance, the esc key will act as your home key when connected to a smartphone and there is a bunch of other keys along the top row which will offer various features like copy, paste, volume and so on.
As such, the level of functionality with Android devices was extremely well designed and performed flawlessly during tested. In terms of battery life, this is a keyboard which runs on AA batteries (which are not included). Therefore, there were no major issues noted with the battery life on offer. This is not a keyboard which needs charging on a daily or bi-daily basis and batteries can simply be swapped out. It is difficult to comment on the longevity of the batteries as they are stated to offer about a 4-month usage, although due to the review period being much shorter than the stated period, this was not verified. It is lastly worth pointing out that the battery compartment (which is located underneath the main lip on the bottom) does also contain a small compartment where you can presumably store a Bluetooth dongle or USB type stick which is handy.
The 1byone Bluetooth keyboard is a good and well performing product. During testing, although, there was times at which the connectivity was lost, the overall usage of the keyboard was deemed to be pretty good. What is more noteworthy though, is the level of compatibility on offer. This one does work extremely well on both Windows and Android (and will for Linux too) and does contain specific keys for each platform. As such, this is a device which can be moved from one product to the other without worry and does offer a very clear universal product appeal.
Should you buy the 1byone Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard?
While there are a number of Bluetooth keyboards now available, the 1byone Bluetooth keyboard does seem to be one which is designed to work across multiple platforms and as such, does add that additional level of functionality. For the money, this is a great buy for anyone using multiple products and looking for an easy way to use a keyboard with all of them. The 1byone Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard will currently cost you $22.99