Apple has steadfastly refused to offer the iPhone 4S with a physical keyboard, but that doesn’t have to stop you. With Concord Keystone’s attachable Bluetooth Slider keyboard, you can now pop your iPhone into a case and slide out a tangible QWERTY pad for all your touchy-feely needs. It’s too bad that doing so will effectively send your high-tech phone back to 2009, an era when heavy devices and fat thumbs hadn’t yet adapted to on-screen keyboards.
OK, admittedly, some folks such as myself prefer a real keyboard, and for good reason. The weight of the board between the fingers, the lowered positioning of the thumbs, and the assurance that you’ve landed on the right key as it clicks into its designated place – most of which the Slider does well – are familiar and reassuring for us old-schoolers. The Slider is like a friend trying to help, but its shortcomings suggest that it may be time for traditionalists to evolve.
The plastic Slider is a casual black color with silver lining, and the surface is made of a rubbery, lightweight material that rests comfortably in the hands. But that same rubber material is a little too squishy once we started clicking around – the keys barely protrude from the surface, so hitting a key depresses the area around the key just a little too much. Worse though, the minimal key protrusion makes it hard to discern where you are on the keypad without looking carefully. With continued use, these problems diminish some, but the biggest issue at hand is size; when the iPhone is popped into the Slider (2.8 ounces and 0.79 inches thick), an otherwise sleek and pocket-size phone suddenly becomes unpleasantly hefty.
Setting up and connecting the keyboard is smooth and simple. It easily syncs to the iPhone since it’s a Bluetooth device, and we didn’t experience any lag or difficulty connecting. It can be turned on and off to save power, and will last up to thirty hours on a charge, according to the device’s makers. But still, you’re going to be charging it fairly regularly. We’re a little turned off by the fact that this means another cord to carry around if you don’t keep a USB charger on you.
The Slider is a novel idea that will probably never catch on. A keyboard that’s not built into a device requires extra power, which means extra weight and size. With the big shell that comes with the Slider, there’s no room for an additional case and it won’t fit on most docks.