What is a Portable Keyboard?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A portable keyboard is a keyboard which has been designed specifically for mobile use, to increase the usability of small mobile devices like smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptops. Many electronics stores sell portable keyboards, as do manufacturers of mobile electronics, and there are a range of styles to choose from. Using a portable keyboard can greatly increase efficiency and comfort with mobile devices, and it can be a useful investment for people who use such devices frequently.

Personal digital assistants are equipped with portable keyboards.
Personal digital assistants are equipped with portable keyboards.

A typical portable keyboard is designed to be as lightweight and compact as possible, so that it can be easily carried without becoming a burden. Some portable keyboards are simply very small keyboards with as few keys as possible, with others are full-sized, but fold so that they can be stored compactly. Roll-up portable keyboards are also available, and portable technology is constantly improving.

In some cases, a portable keyboard is designed to wire directly into the device, plugging into a data port for use. Others are wireless, in which case they may communicate directly with the device with the assistance of included software, or a wireless dongle may be need to be attached to the device for keyboard connectivity. Wireless portable keyboards can increase mobility and flexibility, since the keyboard will not be tethered to the device.

People have various reasons for using a portable keyboard. Some mobile devices are difficult to type with, because they only have partial keyboards, and the keys may have multiple functions. In these instances, it is faster and easier to utilize a full keyboard. In other cases, the keyboard on a mobile device is simply so small that it is uncomfortable to use, in which case a portable keyboard may be a good tool for someone with large or clumsy hands.

When looking at portable keyboards for mobile devices, there are a few considerations. The first is device compatibility, as one does not want to purchase a keyboard which does not work with a particular device. The second is keyboard functionality; accountants, for example, might really want a full keyboard with a number pad, rather than a truncated keyboard, while someone who just plans to use the keyboard for email might need a stripped-down keyboard. Size and style are also important considerations, as the whole point of a portable keyboard is an increase in mobility, not another heavy object to lug around.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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