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 PC World newsletter!
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Huawei Mate 9
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® Portable SSD
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 4 HTC U Ultra phone full, in-depth review
- 5 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
Latest News Articles
- Waze lets you order coffee and a donut from Dunkin' before you get there
- How to buy and read ebooks in Edge as part of the Windows 10 Creators Update
- Windows 10 Creators Update FAQ: Everything you need to know
- Tested: Microsoft Edge is the only browser to run Netflix in 4K
- How Delivery Optimization in Windows 10 Creators Update helps avoid data overage fees
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy A5 2017 phone: Full, in-depth review
- LG G6: unboxing, hands on review and detail shots
- And the 2017 winner of the Formula 1 Best Pit Lane Boom Gantry is...
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTReporting Analyst - HR / PayrollNSW
- FTImplementation Consultant - SMSF SoftwareNSW
- FTSenior C++ EngineerACT
- TPGIS Developer - 6 month ContractQLD
- FTSOE EngineerQLD
- FTLead Network Project ManagerNSW
- FTWeb DeveloperVIC
- CCSenior Solution ArchitectNSW
- FTSenior Web DeveloperVIC
- FTAGILE Implementation Manager ContractNSW
- FTBusiness Analyst (BI / Analytics)NSW
- FTApplication Support Analyst - Mortgage SolutionNSW
- FTInfrastructure ArchitectWA
- TPTechnical ManagerNSW
- TPDeployment Support - NSWNSW
- FTHadoop Service AdministratorWA
- CCSenior Full Stack Web Developer - Port MacquarieQLD
- FTSenior Technical Consultant - Microsoft / VMWareVIC
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Engineer, UI focus, Financial ServicesNSW
- FTLevel 2 Technical Support OfficerQLD
- FTBI AnalystNSW
- FTJava DeveloperWA
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC
- CCICT ManagerNSW