The tablet market has received a new lease of life, courtesy the pandemic. With more people than ever working from home and education having largely shifted online, the demand for devices that let you access and work on the Internet has gone up, and tablets are suddenly in demand again. That’s because they are light, have generally battery life than similarly priced budget notebooks, and of course, because a tablet generally offers better value for money than a budget notebook – a base iPad for Rs 26,000 or a Galaxy Tab A7 for about Rs 17,999 do deliver a fair bit more than notebooks at the same price point.
Tablets are super for everything…but typing!
There is only one catch with tablets – typing. Yes, we might have got used to typing on touchscreens on our smartphones, but typing on tablets, while possible, is an entirely different ball game. It is one thing to be able to type a few sentences for Twitter and WhatsApp, and quite another to try and write a college essay, a business report or honestly, even a detailed email depending only on a tablet’s touch keyboard, which also takes up a good portion of the display.
The solution? Simple. Pair your tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard. Wired ones work too, but using those inevitably involves adapters and blocks up ports. The problem? Bluetooth keyboards (reliable ones, that is) generally cost a fair bit – anywhere in the vicinity of close to Rs 2,000 and going all the way up to almost Rs 30,000 if you are looking for something snazzy which also can double as a cover.
There is, however, one keyboard that can literally turn your tablet into a notebook of sorts and that too for less than the price of most tempered glass tablet screen protectors – the Targus KB55 Multi-Platform Bluetooth Keyboard.
Targus KB55, a ‘proper’ keyboard with full functionality, now at a low price
The Targus KB55 has been around for a few years now. Even when it was launched, it was excellent value for money at its launch price of Rs 1799. However, it is now frequently available at outlets like Vijay Sales and Croma for as little as Rs 999 and frequently dips below the Rs 1,000 mark even on online retail stores. At its reduced price, it is an absolute steal.
And that is because unlike some Bluetooth keyboards that tend to cut down on key size and placement for the sake of portability, the Targus KB55 is pretty much a full-fledged keyboard. The only compromise that it makes (which most notebook keyboards also make) is to not have a dedicated number pad. But otherwise what you have out here is a full-sized keyboard with six rows of keys. The ones on the top are the special function keys and a little on the smaller side, but the others are large, well designed and come with plenty of “travel” (they sink in with a satisfying click).There is a large spacebar and you have two Command and Option keys on either side of it. You also have two large Shift keys, and large Caps Lock, Tab and Backspace buttons. Even the direction arrow keys are located in a distinct corner of their own.
Best of all, the numbers and alphabet keys are well-spaced and comfortable to use. It resembles the layout of a Mac keyboard and we do not think that is a bad thing really. The keyboard is tilted slightly upwards (not adjustable) and we actually preferred typing on it as compared to typing on some of our laptops!
It works…and works with everything
And before you ask, yes, the Targus KB55 pretty much works with everything – Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS. It can connect to phones, tablets, notebooks…pretty much most things that support Bluetooth connectivity. We have used it with the Galaxy Tab A7, the iPad, the OnePlus Nord 2 and even the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and it worked flawlessly with all of them.
A super cool touch is the fact that it has a special shortcut key combination, hitting which will change key functionalities to suit Android, iOS (also Mac we suspect) and Windows. For instance, if you switch to a Windows profile, the Screen Lock button will work as a Delete button. There are plenty of OS-specific shortcuts on the keyboard, so you can Search from anywhere, go to the Home screen, control media playback, change Keyboard Language and so on, by using the Function key. Very handy.
Being a bit of a veteran it comes with Bluetooth 3.0 (rather than 5.0 and 5.2 which are the latest versions), but take it from us, it connects and works very smoothly. The connecting process itself is simple – you switch the keyboard on using the slider on the back, and then press the Connect button. Switch on the Bluetooth on the device to which you wish to connect the keyboard and it will show up on its Bluetooth devices display as “Multi-Platform Bluetooth Keyboard” (no Targus branding there). Hit Connect and you are ready to get going. Disconnecting is as simple as switching off the keyboard from the slider behind it.
No multi-device connectivity and no USB charging.…(not deal breakers, really)
As there is no multi-device connectivity, which means you cannot switch from one device to other seamlessly as you can on some “smarter” keyboards – here you have to disconnect from one device and then connect to the other – but then those smarties do cost a fair bit more. There is also no USB charging either – you have to insert two AAA cells in the tray behind the keyboard (there are two that come with the keyboard).
Battery life is supposed to run into months, although if you are a heavy user, we would recommend keeping a pair of AAAs along – you never know, and there is no real way to know the battery levels (a keyboard shortcut would have helped) apart from the single light flashing red or green when you power it on, and ours has been red for weeks and the keyboard still works fine. Mind you, we think carrying the batteries beats carrying another charging cable and searching for a power outlet.
At that price, grab it and take it anywhere!
The Targus KB55 is totally made of plastic, feels solid enough, and as it weighs less than 300 gram and is under a foot long, you can chuck it into any bag and carry it easily (we suggest keeping it wrapped in cloth or plastic for safety though). The Bluetooth connectivity is strong enough for you to work on your device using it from a distance of a few feet. It is a very good option for those who like to keep their keyboards in their lap and type away even while their phones and tablets are in front of them.
No, it is not perfect – some people might not like the key arrangement, some might not like the plastic build, and some might miss multiple device connectivity. But at a price of close to Rs 1000 and often under it, we think this is easily the best Bluetooth keyboard for that price. And actually a little more than that too.
Next: One charger to charge multiple devices, without endangering them…or your bank account!
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