There are a great many add-on keyboards for tablets, but LapWorks has one that stands out from the competition: It is a full desktop-size keyboard that folds up small enough to fit easily into a gear bag, and works with iPad, Android, and Windows.
The Amigo 2.0 Folding Keyboard is available now, and sells for $139.95.
Build and Design
This accessory starts out as as a 5.1 x 3.5 x 1.0 inch rectangle. Pulling down a switch on one side opens this up, exposing a full QWERTY keyboard that’s 11 inches wide. Opening and closing takes just a couple of seconds.
The Amigo 2.0 is primarily made of plastic, including the outer casing. It comes only in black, and looks reasonably professional.
Folded up, given its size and half-pound weight, this device is large enough that it should be carried in a gear bag or purse; it’s not really pocketable.
There is an On/Off switch on the top edge. It’s important to get in the habit of using this, because if the keyboard is folded up when it is still on it will send large amounts of gibberish to the tablet.
Just below this switch is a set of three status LEDs. These light up in green to indicate the accessory is active, turn red when this accessory is charging, or turn blue when it’s ready to pair with a Bluetooth-enabled tablet or phone.
Some of you may remember that, years ago, a company called ThinkOuside made a folding keyboard for Palm OS and Windows Mobile handhelds that was highly regarded. The Amigo 2.0 is an updated/modified version of this.
Virtually all mobile keyboards are reduced in size to make them easier to carry around, but the Amigo 2.0 is not. It is 100% the size of a desktop keyboard, which should be welcome news to those with large hands.
The layout is almost exactly the same as a PC keyboard, with just a few small changes – the Esc key and the one for typing the ~ and ` have been moved to be next to the space bar, and these are keys that often get moved around on a variety of keyboards. Everything else is exactly where it should be on a QWERTY layout.
There are a set of Windows function keys off to the right, including a PrtSc button that also works for Android devices.
Key travel is excellent, though the keys are just slightly stiff. They are also a bit noisy, though this won’t be an issue unless typing in a very quiet area.
Tablet and Phone Stands
LapWorks included a simple stand to hold a tablet upright when typing. We tested this with an iPad Air and an HTC Nexus 9 and found it to be a surprisingly stable base – the tablet was held securely enough that tapping on the screen never knocked it over or even made it rock. The default screen angle is a good one, and the stand can be adjusted to slightly change this angle, but doing so makes it less stable. The thickest tablet it can handle is about 0.4 inches, however.
The stand for phones is also included, and this is more elaborate, with multiple flip-up braces to provide a stable platform for the device. It’s even adjustable over a range of screen angles. That said, there seems little point for it to be included with this keyboard, as the tablet stand can be used with phones as well, while the phone stand can’t handle a 7-inch or larger tablet.
Both stands are small enough to be easily portable. The only real issue with either of them is that they can’t be connected to the keyboard in any way – an ideal design would have included some kind of slot in the main portion of this accessory to hold the tablet stand so they could be transported as one unit.
The Amigo 2.0 has been designed to work with iOS, Android, and Windows tablets.
We ran into no issues pairing this accessory with an iPad, and using it to enter text worked exactly as expected. In addition, the function keys F1 through F12 can be used to control screen brightness, start/stop music or video playing, or adjust the volume.
Setting up the Amigo 2.0 with an Android tablet was equally simple, and there were no issues entering text. Google designed Android to function with external keyboards a great deal like Windows does, so familiar key combinations work, like Alt-Tab to switch between running applications. In addition, combining the Windows key with others quickly launches a range of applications. For example, Windows-G opens Gmail and Windows-B opens the default web browser.
This keyboard was clearly originally designed with Windows in mind, so it’s not surprising that it works very well with tablets running Microsoft’s OS. The text-entry keys and all function keys perform as expected.
The Amigo 2.0 is charged through a micro-USB port. A cable is included but not the actual charger. This is not a issue, as virtually any tablet or phone charger can handle this task.
LapWorks makes no claim of how long this accessory will last on a single charge. We have been tasting a unit for days of heavy use on a single charge.
LapWorks Amigo 2.0 Folding Keyboard is ideal for those who want a full-size keyboard for their tablet or phone. Many of these people have large hands and find smaller keyboards too cramped.
This accessory’s flexibility is another advantage – it can be used with an iPad or iPhone, an Android tablet or phone, or a Windows tablet or phone, or any combination of these. Switching between devices is a little bit of hassle, but it can be accomplished in under a minute.
On the other side of the coin, the Amigo 2.0 is somewhat bulky, especially when a cradle is included. It’s also somewhat noisy.
Even so, the sheer coolness of unfolding a full-size keyboard from a relatively small package isn’t something to be ignored.