One keyboard that I’ve thought about trying out is Logitech’s $100 Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard K811, but it seems that’s for iOS/Mac only, which I have none of since I’m an Android user. The reason I want to test it out is because it allows you to easily switch between 3 devices via Bluetooth very easily. However, while I was at CES 2015 back in January, I came across the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard(there’s a version for iOS/Mac and one for Android) that actually allows you to switch between 4 devices, and I asked the folks for a review, and since they are so awesome, I’m able to bring you that review today.
A Bit About The Product
The Kanex Multi-Sync keyboard allows you to switch between 3 devices via Bluetooth simply by the touch of a button. I know I mentioned that it supports 4 devices and it does, because it also allows you to hook it up to your computer via the Micro USB to USB cable, and then you’re able to switch between your computer and those other 3 devices with a simple click.
Unlike the Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard, the Kanex Multi-Touch Keyboard is a bit larger because it has a full number keypad on it, which for me makes this keyboard that much more worth it as I’m one who uses the number keypad quite often in my day to day use of a keyboard. Especially the keyboard that’s attached to my computer.
As with the K811, the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard pairs easily with up to three Bluetooth-enabled Android devices in any combination. To pair the keyboard, you just turn it on, press the desired quick-switch key(F1, F2, or F3, each labeled with the Bluetooth symbol) you want to assign to the device you’re pairing with, and then press the Bluetooth-pair button on the bottom of the keyboard. You then complete the pairing process on your Android phone or tablet. You repeat the process, pressing a different quick-switch key, for each additional device. Once you’ve paired the keyboard with several devices, you choose the active device by pressing its corresponding F-key(F1, F2, or F3).It’s literally that quick, easy and simple and within a couple of minutes you’re able to use the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard with your devices.
But unlike Logitech’s keyboards, the Kanex Multi-Sync keyboard also provides a USB port(specifically, a Micro-USB port on the back edge of the keyboard) for wired connections. Using the included four-foot USB cable, you can connect the keyboard directly to your PC(or, as mentioned above, to an Android device with the appropriate adapter), reserving the three Bluetooth slots for any Android devices. This even works with a Chromebook since Chromebooks have Bluetooth. When the keyboard is using USB, the F4 key acts as a fourth quick-switch key for the USB connection.
Unlike Logitech’s K811, the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard doesn’t include a rechargeable battery; rather, it’s powered by either the USB connection or by two AAA batteries(included in the box).
As mentioned earlier, the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard has a full numeric keypad but it also has more, such as a standard inverted-T group of arrow keys; and, above that, the standard pod of Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, Delete, and FN keys.
There’s also a full row of 15 F-keys that double as special-function keys. From left to right, they are: the aforementioned quick-switch keys(F1 to F4), then Mission Control, Mission Control’s show-desktop mode, screen brightness lower and higher, Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Power/Sleep, volume down and up, and Mute. The last seven of these keys also work with Android devices; however, the brightness keys do not. Worthy of praise here is the fact that Kanex has split this row into groups of four F-keys(F1 to F4, F5 to F8, and so on), making it easier for touch-typists to find the desired key by touch.
The drawback to this full-size design is that unlike the Easy-Switch Keyboard K811, which appears to easily fit in most laptop bags, Kanex’s keyboard is better left on your desk. It’s only 4.9 inches deep and 0.7 inches thick at its thickest point, but it’s wide enough and heavy enough that you probably won’t want to pack it for travel.
Included with the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard is a fantastic little plastic stand for your Android devices. When collapsed, it’s less than a quarter of an inch thick, 2.8 inches wide, and 3.2 inches deep, small and thin enough to slip into any bag or pocket. But it unfolds into a stand that offers three angles(63, 69, and 75 degrees from horizontal, indicated on the respective positioning notches) and is sturdy enough to prop up even a full-size 10 inch tablet in portrait orientation. The cradle of the stand is only about a quarter of an inch deep, so a tablet with a bulky case might not fit too well, but the stand otherwise holds any tablet or mobile device. If Kanex sold this stand separately, I would be willing to state that it would be one of the best stands available on the market today.
There’s a lot to like with the Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard. It types as well as we’d expected, offers easy and fast switching between up to four devices, and packs a numeric keypad, which we almost never see these days. We have two main criticisms, though. The first is a lack of rechargeable battery power, which helps keep the cost down but also lowers the level of convenience. Secondly, there’s the size. While it would work well being moved from room to room in a house, it’s not well-suited for travel; it’s really made to be kept at a desk most of the time, then moved around as necessary for Bluetooth use with other devices. Although the $69 price tag(you can pick one up for around $52 via the link at the bottom of the page) is appealing by comparison with Logitech’s $100 Easy-Switch Keyboard, the Multi-Sync Keyboard’s much larger size means that the two products will appeal to different types of users. We view Kanex’s option as equivalent to a $40 wired desktop computer keyboard with the Bluetooth option as a $30 premium, a reasonable asking price for the functionality and design here.