Review: HP TouchPad Bluetooth Keyboard | webOS Nation
 
 

Review: HP TouchPad Bluetooth Keyboard 32

by Derek Kessler Wed, 29 Jun 2011 6:26 am EDT

Bluetooth keyboard support for webOS was added in version 2.0, but it wasn’t February that we got our first official webOS keyboard. Well, to be more accurate, we got our first official look at the webOS keyboard. Today, we have one in our hands, and we’ve got to say, it’s nice to have and it works well with the HP TouchPad.

The HP webOS Bluetooth Keyboard is a full-size chicklet-style QWERTY keyboard with a number of webOS function buttons. The top row contains is completely dedicated to webOS, starting out with a notifications button, followed by Just Type search, virtual keyboard toggle, brightness down and brightness up, back, play/pause, and forward, mute, volume down, volume up, and power.

The next four rows are standard QWERTY, and the bottom row gains card view and Symbol buttons. The card view button is funny, in that it actually simulates an upswipe (just like the front button on the TouchPad). So the first press puts the current app into card view, followed by repeating opening and closing of the app launcher. Once you’re in card view, there’s no way to use the keyboard to move between apps or select a new app to come into focus. It’s a limitation of webOS, really.

The keyboard itself is a very slim design, a flat panel no more than a quarter of an inch with the keys on top of it that drops down on the back to wrap around a battery bay and for the rear legs of the keyboard. The chicklet-style keys are quite nice, with a surprising amount of travel for the narrowness of the keyboard. The webOS function keys respond as you’d expect, with the exception of Symbol, which we couldn’t get to actually do anything. Caps Lock and shift work, but the only feedback you have that they’re active comes from the letters you type – the on-screen virtual keyboard (if you’ve so chosen to enable) does not change to reflect your Shift or Caps Lock status, which makes sense since this is just a Bluetooth keyboard. The again, some sort of Caps Lock light on the keyboard would go a long way.

HP quotes eight months of battery life for the keyboard, which seems pretty reasonable for a Bluetooth keyboard. The question is: do you need one for the TouchPad? Like so many of those “do you need X” questions, the answer comes down to your personal preference. If you’re fine with, or prefer to use, the virtual keyboard, then there’s really no reason to invest in the Bluetooth keyboard. If you prefer the surprisingly loud clack of keys and enjoy beaming Bluetooth between your fingers and your TouchPad (or other Bluetooth-enabled devices, go right ahead.

In doing our TouchPad review we made extensive use of the Bluetooth keyboard for an entire day and found that it didn’t add much to the experience. If anything, it may have hindered the experience, because for each action you can perform using the keyboard, there are five others that you’re going to have to reach up to the screen for anyway. Yes, it can get you into card view and open the launcher, but you can’t select an app and launch it. The keyboard may be able to launch into Just Type and pound out your search query with remarkable speed, but you’re still going to have to touch the screen to select that you want to search Wikipedia and not Google.

The HP webOS Bluetooth Keyboard is going to debut at $69.99, a mid-to-high price range for a Bluetooth keyboard, but one that is reflective of the keyboard’s quality. Typing was great on it and the webOS features, while maybe not entirely thought out, are nice to have if needed. If anything, it’s good for typing, and most people would be faster on it than the virtual keyboard, no matter how good that virtual keyboard is.

32 Comments

I'd be curious to know how well this keyboard functions on Windows, it's a nice looking keyboard.

I'm also curious. Try it out on Windows, guys. Tell us what it's like.

I don't see a need for the expense myself. The virtual keyboard works great for me.

If you were working on certain kinds of content creation using the on screen keyboard limits how many lines of text or other objects you can see. Using the bluetooth KB allows you to use the whole screen like a laptop screen.

Looks like the virtual keyboard also adds arrows! A major oversite of the Virtual Keyboard.

I am hoping support for side/down/up arrows and enter key is coming. That would make the keyboard more useful. Does the keyboard have a dock to rest TP on?

why cant you use the keyboard to get into card view then arrow left and right to move and then use the space bar to select a card/(icon if you could get into the app menu)

Because that would make sense and HP doesn't do much that makes sense...

What a bunch of DOPES at HP!! Using the arrow keys and space bar is so obviously intuitive.... Just ANOTHER half baked product from HPalm.....

You can't blame them for not putting the effort into this one though because...

WHAT GOOD IS A KEYBOARD IF YOU DON'T HAVE DOCUMENT EDITTING SOFTWARE???????????????????????????????????????????

I am surprised they didn't come out with a numeric keypad to go with that calculator that does not exist on the Touchpad.

Rooting for WebOS is like rooting for the Cubs to win a World Series.

Ergonomics just begs for this to be fixed.... why have to take your hands OFF the keyboard and reach up to the TP and scroll around and find the card you want...if you are going to put a *dedicated* key for getting into the cardview mode, why not let the keyboard *finish* the job of selecting where you want to go next.

This is a choice setup. It works great for me.

How does it work with the Veer/Pre2?? Do the special buttons do anything on that?

Thanks Derek! I took delivery of both my Touchpad and webOS keyboard only this morning, and you pretty much answered every question I had regarding functionality.

I do a lot of typing, and a physical keyboard will be useful to me, though I must admit a little disappointment with the lack of functionality, but as they say, "...in the coming months..." Who knows what it will do.

I can't find the charging doc, the case, or the keyboard in stock at any local stores. When I bought the TouchPad at Best Buy on launch day they didn't know when they'd be receiving a shipment for any of these.

This would have been such an easy sale. It's sad the accessory availability couldn't coincide with the tablet availability.

They're available via Amazon and if their tracking info is correct, I'll get the keyboard and the touchstone before the TouchPad arrives.

Here is the thing that confuses me about tablets. Why get a tablet computer when you want a full keyboard?? This is why they have netbooks and normal sized laptops. If your job demands creative abilities that necessitate the use of a physical keyboard, that is a strong hint that maybe you shouldn't be using a tablet.

It is like buying a netbook or laptop that is super thin and light and then having to buy accessories to lug around, negating the thinness and lightness.

Your comment reflects narrow vision! :)

Why buy a laptop with a docking station and an extra monitor? That's what they have desktops for. Why by a clock to hang on the wall? That's what we have watches for, and they're with you all the time.

The list goes on and on, but really, the whole point of a setup like this for me is portability when I want it, expanded capabilities when I want that instead.

Portability for on the go. Efficiency when you're at home.

I would see your point if I got a Touch Pad and carried a keyboard and dock everywhere i went. But the idea is to have the keyboard dock at home.

I personally think it would be great to just have a kvm switch where I can use my desktop keyboard to type on both my pc and my touchpad.

The bluetooth keyboard would be great IF there were Word/Excel/Powerpoint editing capabilities.

I had a keyboard all the way back to my Handspring Visor (with VisorPhone springboard) and used it all the time to take notes because I'm a fast touch typist. I'd look forward to buying one if I had a reason to.

I really wanted this bluetooth keyboard, but the price killed it for me.

It will probably fall in price quickly like the touchstone stuff for the first pre.

$58.83 on amazon vs 69.99 list. Not bad given release date 4 days ago!

At that rate, I think I'll have to wait 12-16 days before it falls under my price range for keyboards!

you know i went to check out a tp at bb and still this website is screwed up. you cant post from a tp but you can post form a ipad. how do you guys not see a problem with this? why cant you fix it? since may this damn problem has been going on and still nothing. im all over the forums and no reply. smh................

I went looking for this at Best Buy today. Besides the blank stare when I initially asked about Hp Touchpad tablet accessories, the gentleman at least check the BB system. Nothing and nothing on order or expected. What the...?

If they didn't provide a way to do basic actions from the keyboard, it would seem like this is not very well thought out. Certainly not worth a premium price.

Why would one buy this keyboard over another if it can't do basic webos UI functions -- unless you prevent any other keyboards from working. And if they're locking things down that much, then this isn't the tablet to buy.

just out of curiosity, if I were to pick up a touchpad could I pair it with my HP bluetooth keyboard from my Touch Smart?

I have a similar question: Could I pair my Wireless (Bluetooth) Apple Keyboard with it? Has anyone tried that?

Or put generally: Will HP allow any Bluetooth Keyboards or only the one that's ment to be used with it?

I have used the apple wireless keyboard with the TP...it worked fine..
Didn't have the dedicated keys that were mapped...but as a basic keybard wi would be fine. the HP one for the device however, certianly is setup for webOS better...but not quite there yet.

what about the function keys? They weren't mapped the same as the dedicated keys? I would think that all that HP really did was put a different icon on those keys. And as far as the card view key goes, how is that any different then the windows/apple key? Honestly, I don't see much of a difference between a regular keyboard and the touchpad keyboard. Just different icons on the keys. Maybe WebOS internals should help us out by making a Key Mapping Patch.

I just read this review because I just ordered the keyboard for my touchpad. The review is quite helpful.

The arrow keys, specifically, not mapped to swiping the cards must be done by design. Are we able to switch between minimized windows using arrow keys on Windows PC? Nope. That's why we have mouse (touch for the tablet).

Now, ALT + TAB is a Microsoft Windows OS specific combination, which can't and won't work on WebOS. I agree that being able to swipe the cards using the keyboard can add to the comfort -- just not arrow keys. For developers, a patch to make the cards swipe using that Symbol key or similar combination may not be difficult? I may be wrong.

I'm more interested to know if it would assist in some online Java games... It's difficult to navigate some of those if at all. Has anyone tried to play anything on addictinggames.com by chance? Kids are not finding this easy!