One Mobile Ring recently wrote the news of an iPhone 4 case, with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard from the on-line gadget specialist Brando - seen here.
The case enables the iPhone 4 to have a physical keyboard, in much the same way as the Nokia E7 or Motorola Milestone 2 - only with the ability to revert back to being solely used as a touch screen device.
We have now taken delivery of the item and have thoroughly put it through its paces, all in order to bring you an Initial Thoughts review of the keyboard-case combo.
The keyboard reminds us of a dark and distant past, where we spent many hours keying in code listings from magazines on the ZX-Spectrum's rubber keyboard.
The keys are rubbery and tactile, with a strangely retro look - where if you hanker for the feeling once again of rubber against your now-adult fingertips the Brando keyboard and case is now here, although not without its drawbacks:
Brando's Bluetooth keyboard makes the elegant, expensive looking designer iPhone 4 have the appearance of an ice-cream sandwich dipped in cheap leather. The case-keyboard combination triples the width of the Apple handset, whilst taking you back to the days when mobile phones were the size of BlackBerry devices.
The keyboard only really works well whilst resting the whole combination on a flat surface, then use one hand to type and the other to hold the case open. Otherwise, the keyboard will flop away from the screen and therefore utterly defeating the point of using the device.
Due to the whole flexible nature of the case, with the keypad on one side, the iPhone on the other you simply can't see the screen whilst typing on the move - as the floppy bit of faux-leather holding the case together isn't rigid enough. How this was not picked up by the designer, the product manager, the QA manager, the manufacturer and the PA dept and their respective colleagues is a mystery.
The individual keys are more spongy than that yellow/porous thing that lives at the bottom of the sea, meaning that in order for the key to register a press they have to be firmly pushed down, to an unreasonable depth. This makes fast typing an overly slow and strangely tiring exercise.
The entire point of a replacement bit of kit is that it is at least better than the thing it's supposed to replace, in order to offset the negatives (increased bulk, expense, loss of aesthetic). We all know that in portrait mode the iPhone onscreen virtual keyboard is only usable by dwarves and children, but the landscape keyboard is responsive and usable. The Brando Keyboard and Case combo is neither of those, where it just ends up being an expensive way of making your iPhone typing experience worse.
Originally published at OneMobileRing.com