The Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is a premium keyboard and in my opinion it is considerably superior to the competition. The keys feel nicer to type with, they’re a better size and they don’t sacrifice the portability of the bluetooth keyboard either (as it folds in half). At 180 grams (ignore the weight on the Amazon page, I measured it myself), it is perfectly suited for travellers as well.
At first glance, you may be slightly put off by the gap in the middle, as was I, but if you give yourself a fair chance to get used to the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard, you will find the gap is an absolute non issue.
Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard Advantages
There are numerous advantages in having this in your backpack if you are a traveller or even just visiting a hotel for a short stay. Physically touching a button is always easier than touchscreens, so if your hands are dirty or cold, you can still type effectively. It’s more natural to type with compared to an on screen keyboard. The main thing I like is that I can use the phone in landscape mode without having the on screen keyboard take up half of the screen real estate. I effectively get some kind of weird tablet/laptop combination.
Might I suggest that if you buy this keyboard, you also treat yourself to a phone case which tilts the screen upwards. For the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, there is the S-View foldable case. It’s not a necessity but it might help.
Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard Operation
The keyboard has quick shortcuts so you can quickly select between a computer, tablet, phone etc. You can pick between Microsoft, Android or Apple operating systems too. My Wacom Tablet sometimes takes a bit to sync and it worried me, but the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard syncs using Bluetooth within a couple of seconds.
There are various options in android to configure how you want the keyboard to behave. The most obvious is to set it so that the on screen keyboard doesn’t display while the physical is enabled. However, in practical use I’ve found each on screen keyboard to behave considerably different to one another. To save you the hassle of installing them all, like I did, SwiftKey is the best for when you’re using the physical keyboard. This is because you can minimise the on screen keyboard to show only one row and in doing so, the autocorrect features remain to work. When you use gboard or the samsung default keyboard and you disable the on screen keyboard from showing, autocorrect or autocomplete no longer works. You can also tap the bottom right and enable it again. My eyesight is not the best but it’s more than adequate to view text, in landscape mode, from a distance and see quite a lot of writing. This is great if you’re a travel blogger or enjoy writing diaries, etc. Unless you’re going to get a 15 inch laptop, I can’t see yourself having a much better experience from a typing experience with any other product–with the execption of the screen.
With things like Google Chromecast and whatnot available, you could even hook your phone up to a larger screen if you were in say a hotel room or AirBnB with a television.
There’s really not much i would change about this keyboard. I have grown used to the split in the middle and it doesn’t seeem to impact me as much as I thought it would, just occasionally when I used to reach over to hit the wrong key relevant to my finger it frustrated me. As with windows, you can change the layout so things like the shift and “2” don’t show as an “@” but instead show the appropriate symbol i.e. “ (what is the appropriate way to quote a quote symbol? Mind = blown.)
I’m not sure how I feel about the media keys. I find them useless most of the time and I guess I’d prefer it if the keyboard didn’t have that row. Instead, if the keyboard had a slightly shallower depth. I am not a fan of media keys for any platform really. Some of them are used for the Bluetooth though so I can see why they’ve added additional ones if that row is already used. My suggestion would be to have the bluetooth sync stuff as part of the regular keys or on the side, with a function key to sync. Then get rid of the media keys row. I’m nitpicking and I have found them slightly useful on occasion.
The keys are nice to type with and feel like a surface book 2.
I would prefer it if I could hit tab which autocorrected/autocompleted the word I was typing or had a dedicated autocorrect key. So for example if I started to type th, hit tab and it then wrote “the”. For short words this isn’t an advantage but for longer words, it would not only speed up typing but it would spellcheck them for you too. SwiftKey lets you autocomplete words with a physical keyboard, using the “spacebar” however, I prefer to use tab. That way I don’t auto complete by accident, nonetheless the feature is mostly implemented how I like it, with SwiftKey. This idea regards how the on screen keyboard functions and picking a different model of physical keyboard won’t make a difference. Interestingly, when the on screen keyboard is shown while using the Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard, you will get autocorrect and a certain amount of auto-complete with every app I’ve tried.
Obviously with autocorrect and various features available today, plus the underlining facility, a spell checker at the end of the write up isn’t as necessary as in the past but it’s nice such a feature exists. I like that on windows I can hit f7 and go through the whole document again to be thorough. To do this on Android you click the “a” with a pen symbol icon and then click “home”, “review” and “spell”. This will allow you to go through the whole document.
My complaint with SwiftKey is as a regular onscreen keyboard and I find something about Google Gboard to be superior. Perhaps this is just because I am used to it more; I have seen a lot of people on YouTube recommend it, so clearly some people like it.
I really like that you can disable the onscreen keyboard with all Keyboard Apps in Android. It gives you way more screen space than what I’m used to, and I am finding myself writing more now because it’s awfully convenient having a keyboard with me all the time. It is the one product I wish I had ages ago, haha. Now when I travel, I’ll have no excuse not to update my blog more frequently.
I am sure similar features exist for Apple uses as well.
I don’t know how you can tell whether it is fully charged but a lot of products, like the Anker 10,000 power bank will display a light that turns off when they’ve finished charging.
If you are serious about travelling, a couple of other unrelated products you might wnat to look at are the Katadyn Water Filter and the Steripen germ killer (there is a smaller version of this available).
It works quite well when it’s on a bed or something soft i.e. you don’t need perfect terrain to be able to type quite well with it. That said, if possible you should try use it on a flat surface as it will benefit you. I have tested this in numerous places just to be thorough and I really like it.
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