Mobility

The only Bluetooth keyboard you'll ever need

Find out if the Freestyle Blue Bluetooth-ready keyboard matches the pain-relieving goodness of the Kinesis Freestyle.

I've very slowly become a big fan of Bluetooth peripherals. Sure they have their issues, but the lack of a wire tether and their ability to connect with multiple platforms and devices, make them ideal for so many situations.

So when my all time favorite keyboard (the Kinesis Freestyle) was given a sibling which supported Bluetooth, I had to find out just how well it would function with a number of mobile devices.

Before I get into this, let me first chat about the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard (which is now the Kinesis Freestyle2 Blue). This keyboard has been my salvation for a long, long time. With its ability to angle on both X and Y axis, the Freestyle will save your fingers, your wrists and your arms. For anyone dealing with the repetitive stress issues that come along with extended rounds of typing, this keyboard should be a must have.

I spend roughly six to eight hours a day typing furiously. Between covering technology and writing novels, the fingers rarely leave the keys. After years of this, I developed a fairly nasty case of chronic tendonitis in both wrists. I tried every type of "natural wave" keyboard I could get my hands on. It wasn't until someone recommended the Freestyle to me that everything changed. With the keyboard and the addition of the VIP3 Accessory, as seen below, I could type all day without feeling a thing.


kinesisa.jpg
My original Freestyle with VIP3 Accessory.
Image: Jack Wallen

The keyboard to end all keyboards. Period. End o' story.

But wait, here's where the story ends...and begins anew. Kinesis finally upgraded their tried and true and painted it a sweet shade of blue. Now, with the Kinesis Freestyle 2 Blue, you can connect with up to three devices (any combination of Chrome, Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Linux) and enjoy that same amazingly perfect keyboard layout as you have on your desktop for years). And although this keyboard isn't meant for travel, it is a work of art when it comes to long-term typing on nearly any device.

NOTE: Some of the driverless hotkeys (such as Web, Home, Copy, Paste, etc) may or may not function on your platform of choice.

What's best, connecting to your device is incredibly simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Make sure bluetooth is enabled on your device
  2. Click and hold the Fn key on the Freestyle
  3. Click either the 1, 2, or 3, key associated with bluetooth on the left side of the Freestyle (Figure B)
  4. When the blue light associated with the number selected blinks, go to the device to be connected and follow the steps to connect (you will be given a numerical key to enter on the keyboard)

kinesisb.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

The ability to connect to three different devices rests in these keys.

Once you have devices connected, you can then switch between them by clicking the Fn and 1, 2, or 3 key combination.

If I had to select a single piece of must-have hardware, one that I simply could not get by without, it would be the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard. This little baby has saved me from a world of pain.

I would, however, be remiss if I didn't make mention of the learning curve that comes along with the keys. Actually, it's one key in particular...the Delete key. Unlike most keyboards, the Delete key on the Freestyle is a major stretch to reach with your fingers on home row. In fact, I have to take my fingers off the keys in order to reach the Delete key. This takes some getting used to. There is a second delete key (on the left keyboard), but it is still quite a stretch (I can't reach it without removing my fingers).

Outside of that one issue, it's all good.

If you're looking for the last keyboard you'll ever have to purchase, one that does a great job on desktops and mobile hardware, look no further than the Kinesis Freestyle 2 Blue. It's pricey ($119.00 USD for 9" of separation between keypads or $139.00 for 20" of separation), but it's worth every penny.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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