Review: Nokia Wireless Keyboard, SU-8W

Score:
73%

Author: Nokia

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Once upon a time, the Holy Grail of accessories was a wireless keyboard, once which didn't need to physically connect to a multitude of incompatible PDAs and smartphones. Then infrared keyboards appeared, still much in demand for standalone PDAs but useless with most Bluetooth-only Symbian smartphones. A year or so ago, the engineering problems associated with making Bluetooth keyboards were solved and we've since seen half a dozen products, enough for use to become somewhat blasť.

The 'Nokia Wireless Keyboard' rides into the marketplace somewhat belatedly, but still very welcome. For a start, it's well made, a simple two piece fold-out design in silver and cream that should stand up to the rigours of being on the road. Secondly, with the marketing power of Nokia behind it, there's every chance that the SU-8W could help evangelise the power of Symbian smartphones to the general masses. Add a keyboard to your smartphone and type up a 1000 word report? Check and reply to a dozen emails? No problem.

Measuring exactly 2cm thick when folded, the keyboard sits nicely in your pocket or briefcase, although it's heavy enough that you won't want to take it everywhere. The design includes a slightly fiddly pull out stand, to rest your smartphone on. This works well, is adjustable in five different angles and the way it slides away after use is really neat.

I tried the SU-8W with a review Nokia 7710, a Symbian 'media-phone' that really, really needs a keyboard as by default you have to peck away on the screen with its stylus. There's a 32MB RS-MMC that comes with the keyboard, with driver utilities for the majority of Series 60 smartphones, but nothing for the 7710. Still, a couple of minutes on Nokia's web site and the right version of the utility was loaded onto the 7710.

Tap on 'Wireless keyboard' and then 'Find Keyboards', as shown on the right. Select the SU-8W and tap 'Send' and (four seconds later) you're fully connected. Now, in any application that accepts text input you simply type away and text magically appears on the screen. As with most add-on keyboards, there's little support for anything other than text, with only five 'special' keys on the SU-8W. Three of these mimick the Series 60 left/right function buttons and navigator 'in', while just two are also applicable to non-S60 devices. One brings up the 7710's Desk and the other brings up Messaging.

In use, the feel of the keys is acceptable, though with a shallow action. I did have some reservations though; firstly, there's no pound sign for UK users and you have to either press and hold the Alt-Gr key (Series 60 users) or go back to the device itself, in the case of the 7710, to put the symbol in manually. Symbols generally are a pain with the SU-8W, being assigned to 'Fn' + 'Shift' combinations, making them slow to access.

Secondly (and more seriously), the Nokia Wireless Keyboard doesn't lock open, making it impossible to use on anything but a flat surface. This is a serious drawback and could have been fixed easily by Nokia with a little more plastic. Lap use on trains and planes is definitely out.

With their company size and with the target audience in mind, I'd been hoping for a price of around £50, at which point it would start to attract attention from the masses. The actual £75 places it in the same bracket as other keyboards of arguably higher quality (and which lock open), which is a shame.

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