In the middle of the throng at LG's IFA 2015 booth, one little gadget got a surprisingly large amount of tech geek attention. The compact, portable and aptly named LG Rolly Keyboard is a super-convenient contrivance for tablet and smartphone typists.
We all know that sending long emails, responding to briefs or writing stories can be an absolute pain on a touchscreen — that's why I'm a big fan of portable Bluetooth keyboards like the Logitech BLOK or Pro Tablet Case.
But cases can be annoying and troublesome, especially if you already have a case on your smart device that precludes you using it with an attached keyboard accessory. Standalone keyboards, though, are bulky and cumbersome and rarely useful. The Rolly Keyboard solves all that — as long as you have a bag that's long enough to store it, and the tablet that you're likely pairing it to, you're sweet.
Folding keyboards are nothing new, but this is actually really special. It folds itself after each row of keys, so combined with the controller and built-in stand it effectively forms a cute little rectangular prism you can slide into the bottom of your bag. Once unfurled, you get four rows of QWERTY keys and a function map that gives you additional ones for number input.
The Rolly Keyboard has a couple of magnetic tabs that hold it in place when it's rolled up; those are easy enough to break with one hand, and then a quick flick of the wrist in the air unfurls the Rolly into its flat layout. The key layout is a little unconventional, but that's true of any Android-compatible Bluetooth keyboard out there. The Rolly is made for Android, but it'll work with an iPad too.
I tested it out with LG's new G Pad II 10.1, and it was perfectly responsive and quick to mirror any typing to the onscreen app — that's more rare than you think; I've tried Bluetooth keyboards with nearly a second's lag that make fast typing almost impossible. Key travel is OK, although I'd still prefer my MacBook's keys at an equally shallow travel depth.
It's the two little fold-out prongs that make the Rolly genuinely useful and versatile, though. Leaning out both to stabilise the keyboard against whatever flat surface you're using it on, and relying on the weight of the Rolly's thick top section for support, the prongs will hold a tablet or even a 5-inch-plus phone in landscape mode securely — and that means you can actually see what you're typing.
No word just yet on whether it's coming to Australia. At least international shipping will be cheap. [LG]
Campbell Simpson travelled to IFA 2015 as a guest of Samsung Australia.