Bluetooth “Freedom Keyboard” Reviewed

freedom keyboard closed

Freedom Input Ltd’s Bluetooth “Freedom Keyboard” is a slick looking portable keyboard. It’s light, small and has an adjustable slider to make the keyboard wider for those with thick fingers. The keys are just the right size and nicely responsive, and the effective Bluetooth range is a very decent 40 feet in an area with no obstructions (like cubicle walls, let’s say). Getting the Freedom Keyboard to work with the Treo 650 we have laying around was a breeze. However, this website is called BlackBerry Cool, not ‘Treo Cool.’ For this reason, no BlackBerry Cool reader (or BlackBerry owner) should ever buy the Freedom Keyboard.

We knew we were in for some trouble getting the Freedom Keyboard to work with our BlackBerry when we looked on the back of the accompanying driver installation CD case. In large block letters there is a message telling all BlackBerry users they must head to www.blackberrykeyboard.com to get the necessary drivers. Smells like tacked-on support, we thought. But at least they’ve given us some form of heads-up, and the compatibility list up on www.freedominput.com shows a wide range of BlackBerry support, so the Freedom Keyboard has to work, right?

That is a bold-faced lie. BlackBerry Cool has read the Freedom Keyboard Manual. We have visited their support site and paid heed to the necessary workarounds for BES use and 4.1 BlackBerry OS support. We have tested the keyboard on a multitude of BlackBerrys, both BES and non-BES, using a variety of different OSs. We have prayed to the Bluetooth gods. Every attempt has ended in sorrow and heartbreak.

Fearing that we were missing something obvious, we gave the Freedom Keyboard to our resident BlackBerry guru (who also happens to be a system administrator for a company that works off a BES). You know the type – the one you turn to when all hope is lost. What was the result after two days of effort? No dice.

At this point, it doesn’t matter if Freedom Input Ltd has a perfectly acceptable workaround for the Freedom Keyboard. A device that has continuously frustrated the mighty tech stallions of BlackBerry Cool so completely should never be touched by the average BlackBerry user. This is especially true since there are so many other wireless keyboard options out there (like Input Ltd’s very own “BlackBerry Keyboard” – which they didn’t send to us). Do not buy this product.

Comments [7 Responses]

acnst
May 25th, 2006 at 10:15 am

If you are looking for another keyboard for BB, than I would recommend to check the CoolMIR keyboard from http://www.man-machine.com. It is not a bluetooth keyboard, but instead uses a cable to connect to the BlackBerry.

Giorgio
June 28th, 2006 at 3:42 pm

While this is not my favorite BlackBerry keyboard, it is still a workable device. There are some issues involved with connecting the device to your BlackBerry, but most of these are due to RIM’s restriction of keystroke injection. This can be configured on the 4.1 handheld OS devices and on a 4.0 or newer BES server. But these restrictions would apply to virutally any external keyboard.

There is a key that simulates the trackwheel click. It’s the Target key (white circle with a dot) located to the right of the delete key. The sluggish response issue can be helped by setting the Repeat Rate to a value of around 10 and the Repeat Delay to a value of around 15. You may need to tweak these for your individual device/typing speed.

Finally, another keyboard recommendation would be the Shasta BlackBerry keyboard by Think Outside. It tends to be more responsive and has larger keys that are the same size as a standard laptop keyboard.

J Paldan
August 22nd, 2006 at 1:27 pm

Has anyone had a security issue with this BlueTooth keyboard? My company will not turn on the event injector to allow because of security concerns.

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