Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard review: A Bluetooth friend to Android, iOS and Windows
There is no better keyboard travelling companion
- Device agnostic
- Portable form factor
- 3 month battery life
- Spill proof
- A slight learning curve
- Not backlit
- Glitches when pairing with a secondary Android device
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
Stringing together sentences using the miniaturised and virtualised keyboard of a smartphone slows us down. Two fingertips just aren’t as fast as ten. Trying to type on these devices as quickly as we think — or as fast as someone can speak — can be unproductive and frustrating.
And we must learn a different type of keyboard with each device. The keyboard on a Samsung tablet is different to that of a Sony smartphone, and they are based on the same operating system. It gets worse when jumping across an operating system divide..
Microsoft has a solution to this quandary. Its Universal Foldable Keyboard is a full-sized keyboard that folds in half, is resistant to spills and has a quoted battery life of three months.
The keyboard itself is no wider than the microUSB port tapered onto its end. True to its moniker, it folds right down the middle, like an oversized European wallet. Powering it on is a matter of opening the keyboard. Shutting it down is easy as folding it close.
Parts of its design have been lifted from the keyboard cover made for Microsoft’s Surface. Large keys sit comfortably in a fabric-like material. Numerical keys sit above the QWERTY arrangement, and above them are controls for volume, music playback and search.
Other buttons allude to this keyboard’s support for different operating systems. It will communicate with smartphones and tablets running Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows. Two buttons labelled with the Bluetooth symbol up top make it possible to alternate between two devices during a single typing session.
The keyboard communicates with smartphones, tablets and hybrids over low energy Bluetooth 4.0. Pairing involves holding down one of the abovementioned Bluetooth buttons, finding the Universal Fold Keyboard and using the keyboard to enter the pairing code. An OS button on the keyboard’s top-left toggles between the supported operating systems.
The keyboard works best when it is used with one device. The keys are large, supple and are characterised by plenty of travel, so that the fingers of brash typists aren’t absorbing the shock. The keys themselves are grouped into two, one for each hand, due to the material hinge that enables it to fold in half. A slight learning curve is needed to get used to the layout, but after an afternoon, typing on the Universal Foldable Keyboard becomes second nature.
Switching between two devices within a single session happens mostly without fuss. Alternating between Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Apple’s iPhone 6s Plus was a seamless affair. Each device maintained a connection over Bluetooth and practically recognised keystrokes immediately.
Some trouble was encountered with devices operating on Android. The keyboard would pair with a Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, only it would drop the connection as soon as we switched to the Surface Pro 4.
Pairing the keyboard to a Huawei Nexus 6P — a smartphone running a stock version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow — encountered similar problems. Disabling the finger scanner lock screen did minimise the interruptions, but reconnecting the Universal Foldable Keyboard to an Android device was always spoiled by some incompatibility.
Typing on the Universal Fold Keyboard is more comfortable than doing so on the redesigned keys of Apple’s 2015 Macbook. There’s value in the high $129 asking price as it turns a tablet into a productivity tool. Couple it with an iPad and it could altogether eliminate the need for a dedicated notebook. This won’t be ideal for power users, but for people on the go, it will be invaluable.
Join the newsletter!
Ballistix Sport AT
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Toys for Boys
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Internet Security
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Smart Security Premium
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 Ring Video Doorbell review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft announces Windows Sandbox, a virtualized safe space for testing untrusted apps
- New AMD processor spotted in Xbox console leak
- Telstra declares Sydney and Melbourne sites 5G-ready
- Hisense talk up VIDAA U3.0 AI smart TV OS ahead of CES 2019
- Fitbit rolls out OS 3.0 for Versa and Ionic with new apps, more stats, and a bright future
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Oppo R17 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Google Pixel 3 XL review: Ghost in the machine
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies