What is a Roll-Up Keyboard?

Malcolm Tatum

Created for portable use with hand held devices such as PDAs, or Personal Data Assistants, the roll-up keyboard is an excellent alternative to using a stylus to manipulate a virtual keyboard on a small electronic device. Often composed of flexible plastic, the roll-up keyboard literally can be rolled in a manner similar to a set of blueprints and easily carried along in a briefcase or portfolio. Inexpensive and easy to maintain, roll-up keyboards are easily the most workable solution of all types of portable keyboards.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

One of the advantages of the roll-up keyboard over some of the collapsible PDA keyboards of years past is that the board is actually the same size as a standard keyboard that is used with a desktop computer. Many models are a full thirteen inches long, allowing plenty of room for a full set of keys, including the row of function keys across the top of the board. This means that moving from a laptop or desktop computer to using the hand held device no longer requires approaching the typing process with two different techniques.

Roll-up keyboards are also compatible with any type of hand held device. Whether the device is configured to be Mac or PC compatible, the roll-up keyboard will work easily. All that is required to connect the roll-up keyboard is a standard USB connector port on the device.

Because of the sealed plastic coating that is used for the body and as a cover for each of the keys, the roll up type of keyboards also offer an advantage that not even a standard keyboard can offer. In the event that liquid is spilled on the roll-up keyboard, there is little danger of shorting out the board. Simply wipe the roll-up board clean and dry it off.

Some models of the roll-up keyboard come with a collapsible cradle that provides a smooth working surface for the board while it is in use. This makes it possible to use a roll-up keyboard even if there is not a tabletop or some other type of smooth surface readily available.

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Discussion Comments


I keep a roll up keyboard in my laptop case just in case I need to do a lot of word processing. I used to carry my standard PC keyboard and a wireless set-up, but that got to be too much of an aggravation. Now I plug the roll up keyboard into a USB port and start typing. It's not as reactive as my regular keyboard at home, but I have a heavy touch anyway so it works well for me.


I tried using a roll up keyboard a few years ago, but I wasn't that impressed with it. The portability factor was nice, but I had to hit the keys much harder than usual and I made a lot of typos because of that. Letters would get dropped, so I'd have to spend a lot of time going back for corrections. I usually don't like the keyboards on laptop computers, but I actually found them easier to use than the roll up keyboard. Maybe the one I bought was an earlier generation and they've improved some of the technology since then.

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