To look at a tech-savvy teen tap away at a smart phone, it's clear that once a person gets used to two-thumbed input, the method can rival that of a full-sided keyboard. In fact, it's probably the only time that being "all thumbs" is an asset.
For the rest of the population, there's devices like the LuxePad A9000 from Genius. This Bluetooth-connected QWERTY keyboard for devices running Android 3.0 and higher makes a suitable companion for smart phones and tablets when softkey input just won't cut it.
Though not quite full-sized, the 10- x 4-inch keypad felt comfortable enough to type on once CRN Test Center testers grew accustomed to the close key arrangement and its chicklet-style keys. After installing a pair of AAA batteries (included), it took about 30 seconds to pair the LuxePad A9000 with our test smart phone, a Samsung Nexus S running Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich. We particularly liked the dedicated keys for Android-specific functions such as home, search, media playback and volume.
Also sent for testing was the LuxePad, which delivers similar functionality to devices running Apple's iOS 4 plus iOS-specific keys for home, search, camera and media playback. We observed a similar experience setting up the $70 LuxePad, and found its leathery case and wrist-rest a bit more comfortable to use than its Android counterpart. In addition to additional style and comfort, the LuxePad's extra $10 delivers a rechargeable battery and USB charging cable.
Genius also offers two additional models that we did not test. The LuxePad 9000 (without the "A") is a white version of the A9000 that works with Apple iPad, iPhone and other devices running iOS 4. And the LuxePad Pro is the LuxePad for iOS 4 plus a leather iPad case and prop stand that lists for $90.
All LuxePad models operate on Bluetooth v2.0, feature an on/off switch, and have a rated range of 30 feet. We tested them from up to 20 feet away, which was about as far as we could get from the device screens while still being able to see what was going on.