April 9, 2011, 8:15 p.m.
posted by sl
Type on a Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard
For those long emails, use this fold up Bluetooth keyboard to crank 'em out quicker than the best thumb typist.
While there are all types of tricks included in the BlackBerry operating system to make you type quickly with your thumbs, nothing can compare to the speed of a full size keyboard. For Bluetooth enabled BlackBerry devices, you can use a full size keyboard that makes composing those long, well thought out emails a breeze. Not only does the keyboard allow for quick typing on your BlackBerry, but you can also set up hotkey combinations that spawn certain applications.
The keyboard is made by a company called Freedom Input and costs $99. It is available for purchase at the following URL: http://www.eaccess-estore.com/store/catalog.asp?item=199. The keyboard is compact and sleek. It's not a whole lot larger than your device when it's folded up. When it is unfolded, your device sits on a small stand that slides out of the top right side of the keyboard as shown in Figure.
Install the Keyboard
You'll need to do a couple of things to get your keyboard working. First, you'll need to enable the Bluetooth adapter on your device. Second, the keyboard requires that some software be installed on your device. Along with the keyboard comes a CD with a unique key printed on the back of the sleeve. You'll need to enter this key on the Freedom Input web site (http://www.blackberrykeyboard.com/index.htm) to register your keyboard and download the software for your BlackBerry. You'll need to use Desktop Manager and Application Loader to install the keyboard software on your device.
Pair with the Keyboard
Once the software is installed, you'll also need to pair with your keyboard using the Bluetooth section of your Options program. This is similar to the action taken when using your computer as a Bluetooth headset [Hack #16]. Put 2 AAA batteries in the keyboard and turn it on using the switch on the bottom-left side near the Ctrl key. In your Bluetooth settings on your BlackBerry, select "Add Device" from the trackwheel menu. As your Bluetooth adapter searches for devices within range, your keyboard should be detected and identified by the string "KEYBOARD." Select your keyboard from the list and use "0000" for the passkey. At this point, you should be able to use the keyboard to type on your BlackBerry.
The Freedom Input Bluetooth keyboard
Use the Keyboard
Your keyboard should work just as you'd expect—until you try to access the BlackBerry-specific keys such as the trackwheel. Figure shows the keys on your keyboard with which you can access the device-specific keys.
Bluetooth keyboard equivalent
Up and down arrows
alt gr key (beside the Fn key on the bottom row)
You'll find you won't need the Symbol key, since you have every key you'd need using the Shift key just like your computer's keyboard. There are also special symbols in yellow on some of the keys that are not found on a standard QWERTY keyboard that can be accessed using the alt gr key.
Map Function Keys
One of the nifty features of the Bluetooth keyboard is the ability to assign hotkeys to any application on your device. You can add up to 10 hotkey combinations by accessing the Bluetooth Keyboard program. Scroll down to the Function Keys section. All the available function keys can be configured by choosing a program from the list to the right of the function key. Use the Alt key to quickly choose an application. Your setting goes into effect immediately. You can also configure the repeat rate and repeat delay for the keyboard.