Kensington KP400 Switchable Keyboard Review

by Reads (3,814)

A desktop PC and a tablet make a great combination, giving you one computer that’s very powerful and one that’s very portable. The Kensington KP400 Switchable Keyboard has been designed to work with these devices, so you can reduce clutter and conveniently use both.

It works with Windows PCs, as well as iPad, Android, and Windows tablets.

Build & Design

The KP400 has the design of a classic keyboard for Windows computers, with a complete set of keys, including all function keys and a number pad. These are full size, with the standard amount of space between them, and an average amount of travel.

While it has all the keys a Windows PC could need, it doesn’t have any designed specifically for iOS or Android tablets and phones. Many iPad keyboards have a replacement for the Home key, and some dedicated Android keyboards have a physical versions of the Navigation Keys, making it easier to control a tablet without touching the screen, but the KP400 lacks either of these. Still, hitting the escape key will return to the Android homescreen.

Kensington KP400 Switchable Keyboard

Kensington KP400 Switchable Keyboard

It also lacks a stand to hold the tablet up when typing to allow the screen to be seen.

This accessory 17.25 inches wide, so it takes up a considerable amount of space on a desk, but not a much as having separate keyboards for PC and tablet would.

It doesn’t look like a premium keyboard, with its black, all-plastic design, and it doesn’t feel like one either. That said, it doesn’t feel cheap. The keys make a bit of noise, but not too much. The keyboard will flex when twisted, but it’s stable when being typed on. Basically, it’s a middle-of-the-road device.

There is the usual set of legs on the bottom to angle the keyboard slightly toward the user.

Wired and Wireless

The KP400 is described as a “Switchable Keyboard” because it can be connected to one computer with a USB cable and another over Bluetooth, and switched between the two with the push of a couple of buttons. It’s limited to just two computers, and cannot switch between two Bluetooth devices, or two USB ones.

It’s powered by the USB cable if the computer its connected to is turned on, or by a set of AAA batteries when being used just with a tablet. There’s an On/Off switch on the back so the batteries aren’t drained when the keyboard isn’t in use, but the keyboard is always on if there’s power coming over the USB connection, no matter what that switch is set to.

Performance

Typing on a PC with the KP400 is identical to using any other mid-quality wired keyboard, because that’s essentially what it is.

What sets this accessory apart is the ease with which it switches to controlling a tablet. Press Ctrl-1 and Bluetooth is activated and you can begin typing on an iPad or Android device, or a Windows tablet. Hit that key combination again to switch back to typing on the PC. An LED indicates which mode is active.

Kensington KP400 Keyboard for PC and Tablet

Kensington KP400 Keyboard for PC and Tablet

Android generally uses the Ctrl button the same way Windows does, so, for example, Cut is Ctrl-X and Paste is Ctrl-V. When the KP400 is controlling an iPad, the Windows key acts as the Command key, so Cut is Windows-X and Paste is Windows-V. This takes a bit of getting used to, but eventually becomes second nature.

Conclusion

The best use case of the Kensington KP400 Switchable Keyboard is for someone who does most of their work on a Windows desktop, but also makes frequent use of a tablet for email or other text-intensive tasks. With this accessory, they can easily switch to the mobile device to quickly type messages, and then back to the PC.

Those who are looking for a keyboard primarily be used with an iOS or Android tablet would be happier with one that’s designed specifically for their model, or at least their OS. These are generally designed so they can be carried with the mobile device, which the KP400 is not. There is a wide array of keyboard cases available for the iPad, and a decent selection for most Android models.

At $59.99, the KP400 is about twice what a good PC keyboard normally sells for, but as it does the job of two keyboards there’s some justification for this. And you couldn’t buy a good PC keyboard and a good tablet keyboard for less.


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