UltraBoard 940 Compact Keyboard
The multitalented UltraBoard 940 blurs the lines between desktop, laptop and mobile keyboards
FLEXIBILITY ISN’T SOMETHING we expect from a keyboard – by their nature, they have a very specialised job, and it’s perfectly fine for one to simply sit there on a desk and do it.
However, with the rise of 2-in-1s, and even smartphones and mobile OS-equipped tablets becoming more capable as productivity devices, there’s room for keyboards that can switch seamlessly between desktop PC duty and wireless typing on the go. This is exactly what the UltraBoard 940 Compact Keyboard, from Dutch firm BakkerElkhuizen, is built for.
It’s expensive for a portable board, but it tries to elevate itself above the crowd. It uses scissor-switch keys rather than a membrane design, which gives a crisp response and a decent amount of audible feedback. Together with the square, flat, chiclet-style keys and modest amount of travel, it almost evokes the feeling of typing on an ultraportable laptop.
It took a while to get used to the shrunken Enter key (which is confined to a single row)
and the stubby Backspace key, but we were soon happily cranking out text. It’s not short on keys, either: there’s a full set of Function keys, which include screen brightness, media playback and volume controls, while Home, Mail, print Screen and Num Lock get their own dedicated hotkeys up on the top left. Despite the platform agnosticism, there’s even a Windows key, labelled Start.
Of course, the whole idea is that you don’t have to just stick with Windows or Mac computers. Unplug the Micro USB cable, which charges a pair of removable, rechargeable AAA batteries, and you can connect to up to five Android or macOS devices simultaneously, swapping between them via the number keys.
The instructions aren’t clear about getting this (rather central) feature going, specifically as to the order in which you need to press the Bluetooth button, assign the device to a number key and pair with the keyboard via the device’s settings, but soon enough we were typing on our Android phablet.
There are many Bluetooth keyboards that can simply connect to both handhelds and desktops, but most are focused on the former, and thus prioritise portability over the typing experience. This keyboard, conversely, brings a more comfortable, PC and laptop-like quality to mobile typing, and by and large it succeeds. It’s as light as a portable keyboard, at 430g, and we haven’t even mentioned the two full-size USB2 inputs, which can grab the data off a thumb drive no problem.
In the end, our only problems with the UltraBoard 940 were its flimsy fold-out legs and the fact that Bluetooth is disabled when connected via the Micro USB cable, so if you’re charging it through your main PC, say, you can’t quickly switch to typing on a wireless connected 2-in-1 tablet nearby. Otherwise, it earns its high price, and we’d recommend to anyone with the budget.