Bluetooth “Freedom Keyboard” Reviewed

19 Comments

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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.

  • http://www.thingelstad.com/ Jamie Thingelstad

    I actually have this keyboard, and I was able to get it to work on my BlackBerry (BES mode) but not without a bit of pain. However, I still would agree with the recommendation to not buy it. My complaints would be:

    1) There is a huge lag from typing until when it appears on the screen. This makes it effectively unusable.

    2) It is lacking buttons to make the BlackBerry efficient — e.g., cannot simulate clicking the scroll wheel!

    I gave up on it a while ago. Any keyboard recommendations would be appreciated though. I would be fine with a cable as long as it solved the above items.

  • http://www.thingelstad.com/ Jamie Thingelstad

    I actually have this keyboard, and I was able to get it to work on my BlackBerry (BES mode) but not without a bit of pain. However, I still would agree with the recommendation to not buy it. My complaints would be:

    1) There is a huge lag from typing until when it appears on the screen. This makes it effectively unusable.

    2) It is lacking buttons to make the BlackBerry efficient — e.g., cannot simulate clicking the scroll wheel!

    I gave up on it a while ago. Any keyboard recommendations would be appreciated though. I would be fine with a cable as long as it solved the above items.

  • acnst

    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.

  • acnst

    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.

  • Kent

    This product will not work with a BB 7100T from T-Mobile.

  • Kent

    This product will not work with a BB 7100T from T-Mobile.

  • Giorgio

    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.

  • Giorgio

    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.

  • Giorgio

    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.

  • Giorgio

    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.

  • http://www.futuretechnologyuk.com/ James

    My review / experience of the Freedom Keyboard with BES:

    Well, I am the BES Administrator for our company, we run a total of 3 BES and have around 280 devices connected to them.We run 7290′s, 7100′s, 8700′s and the keyboard has worked with them all. I can’t see where everyone is having problems! Up Until november last year, the keyboards we had worked fine with no changes made to the BES – Until RIM updated the BES & Handheld software turning the event injector to deny by default. Thats when the fun started and all my users were screaming at me!

    I simply followed the instructions given (These are official instructions – I checked with RIM themselves – they helped write them and supply Freedom with official support – I checked that as well, thats why we eventually chose Freedom) and overall I thought it was a very simple job indeed. There must be some pretty dense Admins out there IMHO if they can’t get this keyboard working. After reading around on various forums, I think I maybe underpaid, if the general level of technical competancy of some of the Admins is anything to go by, I am going to ask for a raise!

    Out of 300 keyboards we have subsequently purchased, we have only had to return 1 as being faulty.

    A couple of users have complained of some lag and slowness, but changing the repeat and delay settings soon sorted this out. Speaking of slowness, lets be totally frank, you are not going to get 100 words per minute out of the keyboard (as some of my users were expecting lol) but it has improved the productivity of the company as a whole by quite some margin.

    Overall, I would recommend the Freedom keyboard. On the 2 occasions I have had technical questions, I have telephoned and spoken to two guys, Steve & Jim. Both were extremely helpful, knowledgable, and on both occasions I put the phone down feeling comfortable with the answers and solutions I was given. How many times can you say that in this industry??

    I have also tested the Think Outside variant and one other BlackBerry Keyboard. All suffered from the same BES problems, but at no stage was I offered a FREE callback to talk me through the problem. To me, technical support is paramount with so many users depending on me to keep them going. Tickets and emails are fine if you are not in a hurry, but having a human call you to talk you through any issues is fantastic.

    I hope this review has been helpful to you.
    James.

  • http://www.futuretechnologyuk.com/ James

    My review / experience of the Freedom Keyboard with BES:

    Well, I am the BES Administrator for our company, we run a total of 3 BES and have around 280 devices connected to them.We run 7290′s, 7100′s, 8700′s and the keyboard has worked with them all. I can’t see where everyone is having problems! Up Until november last year, the keyboards we had worked fine with no changes made to the BES – Until RIM updated the BES & Handheld software turning the event injector to deny by default. Thats when the fun started and all my users were screaming at me!

    I simply followed the instructions given (These are official instructions – I checked with RIM themselves – they helped write them and supply Freedom with official support – I checked that as well, thats why we eventually chose Freedom) and overall I thought it was a very simple job indeed. There must be some pretty dense Admins out there IMHO if they can’t get this keyboard working. After reading around on various forums, I think I maybe underpaid, if the general level of technical competancy of some of the Admins is anything to go by, I am going to ask for a raise!

    Out of 300 keyboards we have subsequently purchased, we have only had to return 1 as being faulty.

    A couple of users have complained of some lag and slowness, but changing the repeat and delay settings soon sorted this out. Speaking of slowness, lets be totally frank, you are not going to get 100 words per minute out of the keyboard (as some of my users were expecting lol) but it has improved the productivity of the company as a whole by quite some margin.

    Overall, I would recommend the Freedom keyboard. On the 2 occasions I have had technical questions, I have telephoned and spoken to two guys, Steve & Jim. Both were extremely helpful, knowledgable, and on both occasions I put the phone down feeling comfortable with the answers and solutions I was given. How many times can you say that in this industry??

    I have also tested the Think Outside variant and one other BlackBerry Keyboard. All suffered from the same BES problems, but at no stage was I offered a FREE callback to talk me through the problem. To me, technical support is paramount with so many users depending on me to keep them going. Tickets and emails are fine if you are not in a hurry, but having a human call you to talk you through any issues is fantastic.

    I hope this review has been helpful to you.
    James.

  • http://www.futuretechnologyuk.com James

    My review / experience of the Freedom Keyboard with BES:

    Well, I am the BES Administrator for our company, we run a total of 3 BES and have around 280 devices connected to them.We run 7290′s, 7100′s, 8700′s and the keyboard has worked with them all. I can’t see where everyone is having problems! Up Until november last year, the keyboards we had worked fine with no changes made to the BES – Until RIM updated the BES & Handheld software turning the event injector to deny by default. Thats when the fun started and all my users were screaming at me!

    I simply followed the instructions given (These are official instructions – I checked with RIM themselves – they helped write them and supply Freedom with official support – I checked that as well, thats why we eventually chose Freedom) and overall I thought it was a very simple job indeed. There must be some pretty dense Admins out there IMHO if they can’t get this keyboard working. After reading around on various forums, I think I maybe underpaid, if the general level of technical competancy of some of the Admins is anything to go by, I am going to ask for a raise!

    Out of 300 keyboards we have subsequently purchased, we have only had to return 1 as being faulty.

    A couple of users have complained of some lag and slowness, but changing the repeat and delay settings soon sorted this out. Speaking of slowness, lets be totally frank, you are not going to get 100 words per minute out of the keyboard (as some of my users were expecting lol) but it has improved the productivity of the company as a whole by quite some margin.

    Overall, I would recommend the Freedom keyboard. On the 2 occasions I have had technical questions, I have telephoned and spoken to two guys, Steve & Jim. Both were extremely helpful, knowledgable, and on both occasions I put the phone down feeling comfortable with the answers and solutions I was given. How many times can you say that in this industry??

    I have also tested the Think Outside variant and one other BlackBerry Keyboard. All suffered from the same BES problems, but at no stage was I offered a FREE callback to talk me through the problem. To me, technical support is paramount with so many users depending on me to keep them going. Tickets and emails are fine if you are not in a hurry, but having a human call you to talk you through any issues is fantastic.

    I hope this review has been helpful to you.
    James.

  • J Paldan

    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.

  • J Paldan

    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.

  • T. O’Neil

    O.K.

    I get that the Freedom bluetooth key board is not a good choice for the Blackberry storm. I have an “Out of the Box” bluetooth key board and my storm recognizes the key board but I am unable to pair with the key board. The storm wants a code and I have tried 1111, 0000, and others, but none seem to work. Has anyone been successful with this key board and the new Blackberry Storm?

    Tom

  • T. O’Neil

    O.K.

    I get that the Freedom bluetooth key board is not a good choice for the Blackberry storm. I have an “Out of the Box” bluetooth key board and my storm recognizes the key board but I am unable to pair with the key board. The storm wants a code and I have tried 1111, 0000, and others, but none seem to work. Has anyone been successful with this key board and the new Blackberry Storm?

    Tom

  • Dhirgantara

    O’neil. it’s actually quite simple to pair, when you are entering keypass number on the bb, you should also press the same number on the keyboard. then the devices will be paired

  • Dhirgantara

    O’neil. it’s actually quite simple to pair, when you are entering keypass number on the bb, you should also press the same number on the keyboard. then the devices will be paired