Review: Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard for BlackBerry Smartphones

Freedom Bluetooth Pro Keyboard
By DJ Reyes on 27 May 2011 10:24 am EDT
0
loading...
0
loading...
49
loading...

In looking to lighten my daily load when travelling to and from university, I wanted to leave my Macbook at home and just use my BlackBerry. It was fine for a while until I had to start writing essays and pages and pages for coursework. The Torch keyboard wasn't going to cut it. Of course there was the option of using the university computers but you weren't always guaranteed to get one so I had to get myself a bluetooth. That's when I got the Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard. Small and light enough to join my books and notebooks and not kill my back while doing so. In fact, most of this article was written using the keyboard with my BlackBerry Torch. So, let's see how it faired with daily usage.

Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard for BlackBerry Smartphones

Ease of connectivity


Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

In order to use the keyboard, you first have to install an app, which could be downloaded over-the-air. Once you have this, just pair the device via bluetooth as you would any device. When you have both devices paired, you're ready to go. The first time you use it you have to manually connect it by launching the app you installed. You then have the option to have the BlackBerry automatically connect to the keyboard whenever you turn the keyboard on. I have mine set to auto connect and the speed at which the two devices connects varies upon each use. Sometimes they would connect instantly after turning both my Bluetooth and the keyboard on. Other times it would take a little longer to connect. There were times when it got even more frustrating and would not connect so I had to go in and connect manually. However, after testing it out on another BlackBerry device (_Storm2_http://crackberry.com/blackberry-storm-2) I found that this was not the case. So, it could just be an issue with the Torch. After contacting support they told me this should be the case but couldn't offer a solution. It seems other Torch users have had this problem too. Let's hope a future update could fix this.

Ease of use

Using the keyboard took a bit of getting used to. By that I mean I had to get used to the awkward position of the spacebar and the fact the was a gap in the middle where the keyboard folds, so reaching for the letter ‘B' became a little struggle at first. Since I was using it daily it didn't take long for my fingers to get used to it. As already mentioned most of this post was written using the keyboard, with just the final edits finished on the laptop.
The keys are smooth and travel well. You could easily punch out your emails and word docs in no time. I found myself getting on with essays very nicely and easily. The full-sized keys give for a very comfortable typing experience.
The only thing that bugs my is that sometimes there a bit of lag. You could be typing a whole sentence and nothing shows up until several seconds later. It can annoy, especially when you're on a roll typing away. Broke my flow a few times but it doesn't happen too often.

Shortcut keys


Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

There are a number of shortcut keys available on the keyboard that allow you to launch apps on your BlackBerry device without having to actually touch your BlackBerry. There are the SK keys that will work just like the BlackBerry button, select key and back key and convenience keys. You can define 12 shortcuts to launch your favourite applications which can be set through the Freedom Pro app. Down the left side of the keyboard you have 6 dedicated shortcut keys for: Messages, Contacts, Tasks, Calendar, Answer call and End call. There are also default shortcuts to load the Browser, control media, volume and go back to the Home screen. This makes things a lot more convenient, giving you quite a lot of control from the keyboard.


Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

Hardware


Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

The keyboard has 75 full sized keys arranged on 5 rows. It comes with a detachable device stand which can be adjusted by height, which is foldable to tuck away nicely into the keyboard for storage. The device stand feels sturdy and has rubber panels so your device does not slip off. The keyboard itself feels quite solid. The keys have enough travel in them and don't feel flimsy. There's also a lock so that it does not fold while you're using it. Not that it will if it's sitting on a table but the option is there. It comes with a leather pouch for when you need to store it in when travelling around which is a nice bonus. It is powered by two AAA batteries that come included. I haven't had to change them yet, with constant use for a month or so. There are even four small rubber stands on the outside of the keyboard for stability while using the keyboard and so your keyboard doesn't get scratched by the surface.

Dimensions

Size Opened: 319.2 X 102.9 X 9.6 mm (12.6 X 4.0 X 0.38 ins.)
Size Closed: 162.5 X 102.9 X 19.2 mm (6.4 X 4.0 X 0.75 ins.)
Weight: 258g (including batteries)


Pros

  • Easy to pair
  • Sturdy build
  • Shortcut keys
  • Adjustable device stand
  • Leather case

Cons

  • Often lags while typing
  • Does not always connect automatically (Torch model)
  • May be a bit too big for some


Conclusion

My overall thoughts on the Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard are positive. It served me well for the purpose I needed if for. Basically does what it says on the box. The 12 definable shortcut keys are an awesome bonus but remembering what app is assigned to what number can take a while to get used to. If you use them often enough, of course this wouldn't matter. Due to it's full-sized keys however some may see the keyboard as a bit too big, especially compared to other Bluetooth keyboards in the market but if you're looking for a reliable keyboard that gives you the best typing experience I would recommend getting one. Definitely allows you to get a lot more done than using your BlackBerry keyboard alone.

The Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard is compatible with BlackBerry devices running OS 4.0 and above. Regular price is $129.95 but is currently available for $119.95 from ShopCrackBerry.com.

More information/purchase of the Freedom Pro Bluetooth Keyboard

36 comments

redk

I could use a new bluetooth headset!!!

pkcable

Wonder if it works with the PB?

rosgani#CB

I need this keyboard for my BlackBerry 8800, but this is not available in Indonesian market.... :(

jpro757

This looks cool but we need this for the PB.

Bulldawg

Yes.

Move the switch from SPP mode (for phones) to HID mode, and will work.

Username5300

I stand corrected, I looked at it in the crackberry shop and it told me it was not compatible with the playbook. I went to their site and it is a recomended keyboard for the playbook. Someone has their wires croosed. Sorry for the misinformation!!

santi29402

I was also wondering, if this would work on the PlayBook.

Username5300

This keyboard will NOT work with the Playbook.

Bulldawg

Yes, it will work. Move the switch from SPP to HID and it will connect just like any other HID keyboard to the PlayBook. I've been using it extensively with my PlayBook for almost a month.

misskalunji

do you have to re-pair it everytime you want to use it? or it auto-connects when you turn on the keyboard?

mtmouse

I've used a Think Outside Universal Bluetooth keyboard for years with my Dell Axim; we test it the other day with the PlayBook, it connected and worked perfect.

I will try it my Torch when I get a chance.

WP8now

Threefive - why won't it work with the PlayBook ?

gregerator

My guess is that since it requires an app for the Torch, it would need an app for the PB which is not available. Again, that's my guess.

simplex123

Any regular bluetooth keyboard will work with the PlayBook. For example the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Bulldawg

It will work. See my other posts above.

Matt J

Does it work with the PlayBook?

WP8now

I need page up and down, does it have those keys ?

gregerator

Yes, the picture clearly shows a PgUp and PgDn button. :)

theKHMERboy

this would be wicked if i had it for my torch

andrewmcwhirter

Please let us know if this sucker works on the Playbook.

JustinGTP

Look at the countless posts above yours. It states over and over it works with the playbook!

MaryBeth#AC

Pretty cool although it still seems a little bulky.

kraski

It's not that bulky. My issue with the Freedom Pro matched to my Torch is that it's selective as to which apps it'll work with. It does fine with many note taking and writing apps, but won't work in BBM 5. Since it has direct access to some of the foreign characters, I was hoping for BBM compatibility for some of my Spanish chats. The price on Amazon is 25% cheaper, which only makes the shortcomings less painful. I'd expect, at the price, that it would handle all the native apps. The universal keyboard mentioned earlier in this thread is $250 at Amazon. A little too steep for an accessory.

jSkiLLzZz

ive been using my 'logitech dinovo mini' bluetooth keyboard and mouse with my playbook and i have to say, im very impressed by how easy it is to set up and use w. the pb. i could absolutely see that as being very helpful at times if im doing a presentation or if its connected to a flat screen tv with hdmi. now i can load my pb up with movies and if im at a hotel or whatever i can connect my pb to the tv and control it with my mini kb/mouse combo

http://www.logitech.com/en-us/keyboards/keyboard/devices/3848

def cheaper on buy.com or your favorite online retailer. i do hate logitech as a company tho for the way they handled my situation with my broken 200 dollar universal remote

minnick

I just cannot believe how many times idiots asked the same frkn question and bulldg had to say it like 3 frkn times. Cmon ppl have some common sense, scroll the browser up 1 inch and read the previous comment holy crap.

drumrdfox

I've been using this keyboard with my Curve for about 6 months. I've enjoyed using it and type more with it and my phone than I do on my laptop. The programmable shortcut function keys are a real plus. However, the pre-defined shortcut key to the media app does not work; support told me there is a restriction in the phone that prevents it from being opened. Volume and play/pause shortcuts do work.

I have experienced the same issue with not always connecting immediately and also with lag which has only been a minor annoyance. The lag seemed to be worse with the core BB apps. I don't have as much issue with apps WordToGo. Updates to the keyboard driver have improved performance.

Overall, a good keyboard. I am looking forward to trying it out with the Playbook.

Rootbrian

Read the post, read the article, read the comments, do a text search for "playbook" and you will find your answers. God dammit. Do we have to keep answering you all the time!!????!!

-.-

Rootbrian

Read the post, read the article, read the comments, do a text search for "playbook" and you will find your answers. God dammit. Do we have to keep answering you all the time!!????!!

-.-

Rootbrian

Read the post, read the article, read the comments, do a text search for "playbook" and you will find your answers. God dammit. Do we have to keep answering you all the time!!????!!

-.-

GLOCKshooter

Please do not use the name Father or Son as curse words or explitives.
Thanks.

orzywife

I've been using this keyboard for about 8 months with my 9700 and I love it. As a school administrator, I have to observe teachers which requires I script notes by hand,on my iPad (school provided, not my choice), haul my laptop around or with my keyboard and phone. With the keyboard and my phone, I can observe and document what's going on in the classroom without having to look down. On the iPad I have to look down. The keyboard is thin and light and aside from some lag at times, the keyboard and phone combo are my preferred way of taking notes.

Gamesdmc3

I rather just use what my phone has

Johnny Torch

might help, let me see, please

jorge_ace

Unless you're doing some heavy duty inputing or texting, the option that works best for me is the use of a rubber-tip stylus pen that's available at Staples. It's a lot easier to clip on a stylus pen than to carry around a keyboard (even if it's folded up). If at home, I can use my computer for inputing data and then syncing with the Blackberry Manager.

jorge_ace

Does the keyboard have a key for zoom while in the web? I have a Bold 9780.