In this day and age, many people are glamorized by big companies like Samsung and Apple and develop a certain wariness towards other brands that are not so popular. Even though there are many high-end device manufacturers out there, some people are still skeptical about getting quality for less. While there is some truth to their fears, most of the time, new and previously unknown companies do tend to surprise users with neat products. This time around, we’re going to be reviewing two things at once: GearBest, the massive Chinese retailer and one of their staple products, the Bluetooth laser keyboard.
GearBest is also giving away one of these Bluetooth laser keyboard units to one of you guys, which is very good news, I think. All you need to do is join Geek Reply and GearBest on social media by liking the Geek Reply Facebook page (upper right corner of the sidebar), liking the GearBest Facebook page and share this post on your own timeline so that others can also participate. Once you do that, leave a comment below with your Facebook name or URL so that we can verify that you have complied with the giveaway rules. The winner will be chosen at random! The giveaway starts today and lasts one full week, until October 1. GearBest has one Bluetooth laser keyboard up for giveaway, but check back later for other sweet giveaways that Geek Reply is hosting. In the meantime, good luck!
GearBest as a company is a retailer based in China and they pride themselves with not only an enormous selection of smartphones, tablets, Mini PCs, accessories and drones, but also with surprisingly affordable prices and free shipping for most of the items they have on sale. For this review of their services and their products, I chose the FooWoo Bluetooth laser projection keyboard as our main item because of three things: the keyboard is small, portable and cross-platform compatible. Once my discussions with the GearBest representatives were over, the Bluetooth laser keyboard took about a week to arrive through Shenzhen, which is a pretty decent time, considering the long distance the package has to travel.
The delivery and confirmation process was buttery smooth and since GearBest uses international couriers and express shipping, everything went rather well and was speedy. The package came in undamaged, fully intact and with all the documentation necessary. Moreover, GearBest makes sure that all the paperwork is in order for the destination country and also customizes your product package with sockets compatible with your area, which is something not many Chinese retailers do nowadays.
Now let’s see what this FooWoo Bluetooth laser keyboard can really do. Let’s start with the most important traits of the device. I’ve been using this keyboard on and off for about three weeks and it has been an extremely useful addition to my gadget collection. Since we’re in the wireless age, the fact that the laser keyboard works perfectly without a cable is definitely a pro in my mind. At the same time, the keyboard is very small, and it can actually fit in your pocket, thus making it a very portable device that is convenient to carry around, even if you don’t have a bag or purse at hand. The exact measurements of the laser keyboard are 3.07 x 1.57 x 0.79 inches, which means it’s even smaller than the new Apple iPod Touch.
The design of the laser keyboard is simple, yet elegant. It looks clean and friendly and has no surplus ports or embellishments. The materials used in the construction of the device are metal, plastic and a TPU-like coating on the back and sides of the device. There’s a plexi screen on the front, that protects the Bluetooth laser keyboard from damage if it falls over or out of your pocket. I’m a generally clumsy person, which means that this device did take a beating over the past few weeks. Nonetheless, it held out like a trooper and still doesn’t have any scratches, dents or smudges on it, which is surprising for such a small, lightweight device.
On the sides, you won’t find anything special. There’s a microUSB port which you can use for charging the laser keyboard or connecting it to devices that don’t have Bluetooth. It works the same way, but the microUSB cable that you get with the laser keyboard is a bit short for my preference. If you find yourself plugging the keyboard into a desktop PC for example, it’s probably not going to reach your desktop, unless the computer itself is held higher. That’s a bummer, but wired connectivity is not what the laser keyboard is meant for. It’s meant for wireless, and it excels at that. On the sides, it doesn’t have anything popping out, save for a power button which blends in with the grippy material that is around the device itself. On the back, there is a speaker which will emit beeps and sounds that pertain to the functions of the laser keyboard. Keystrokes produce sounds (which are loud beeps, which can be easily muted by touching the function key and the letter P at the same time), as do connectivity problems and erroneous inputs.
Before getting into how it works, I’ll just explain the principles behind the projection of the keyboard. The laser keyboard, as you can see on the front of the device, has a few little lights, each with its own function. On the top part of the device, we can see the pattern projector, which is actually the laser light that will project a red keyboard onto any surface. On the upper left of the device, there’s a motion sensor that will pick up your finger movements while on the lower left there’s an LED notification light which will help you understand what the laser keyboard is actually doing when it’s on. You will use that LED light to find out whether the laser keyboard is searching for Bluetooth devices nearby (in which case it blinks blue), if it’s already connected (in which case it stays blue) and if the battery is low (in which case it blinks red/orange).
But enough dilly-dallying with appearances, we all know appearance matters little when it comes to portable gadgets that are meant for traveling and mobility. And that’s what the laser keyboard is meant for, and does well. First off, the keyboard itself is portable as hell, and can be connected to almost any platform you can imagine. That means you can connect and use the laser keyboard with iOS devices, Macs, Android smartphones, tablets, Mini PCs and TV boxes, as well as Windows systems. That’s a very convenient trait, seeing as you won’t have to worry about compatibility. This cross-platform compatibility feature also lets you switch out the keyboard with different devices in a matter of seconds, and I’m not kidding.
Once you long press the power button on the side of the laser keyboard and hear a loud, long beep, then you know the device is on. The light on the bottom should be blinking blue whilst the device searches for nearby Bluetooth gadgets. Once it finds something, it automatically connects. You don’t need to do anything special, unless your own settings require passcodes or other types of authentication. Connectivity is widespread, as the device can be connected easily to any platform and it works instantly.
I would suggest turning sounds off by tapping the function key and the letter P, otherwise you will be rather annoyed over long periods of use. The laser keyboard works just fine, you can type search terms, documents and messages easily, but I don’t recommend trying to use key combinations like Shift and 2 to write @, because the sensors on the keyboard will not pick the taps up correctly. Many a times I tried typing email addresses, I found myself struggling to input the @ symbol. When you cover the laser light coming from the emitter in a certain way, some letters won’t show up, which is what happens when doing key combinations. It works from the sides of the keyboard, but that’s about it.
Regardless of that minor problem, the Bluetooth laser keyboard works just fine. Although some might be inconvenienced by the laser’s lack of accuracy, the user experience with this is good if you use it for the right things. Since it’s a pretty cheap alternative to a full keyboard, it’s the ultimate on-the-go, emergency solution to typing issues on any device. The fact that the connection between the device stays up in various conditions and always perfectly within 10 m of the device adds to its benefits. I think that after a few weeks with this device, I became more comfortable using it more often and just leaving it in my bag for emergencies. It doesn’t occupy space and it can be easily charged from even the flimsiest of power banks as it doesn’t need that much power.
Battery life was average, not above and not below expectations of such a device. According to GearBest, the laser keyboard can go on typing for about 2 hours, but I had a much better experience than that. My unit was able to hold out for 3 hours of non-stop typing, connecting and changing devices and while it did start stuttering at the end, with lag intervening, that’s a good time! I did the charging through a laptop, and it took about 2 and a half hours to charge to full capacity (the LED light lets you know when that happens). When I charged it with a standard cell phone accumulator, it charged in about an hour and a half, but that might not be too helpful for the battery inside, as it could fry it pretty fast.
I was content with the brightness and visibility of the device, as even in bright sunlight, it could project the hell out of the keyboard. Naturally, the keys weren’t as visible in bright environments as they were in dark ones, but they were nonetheless easy to see and use. The response times between the taps you make and the characters that that produce is stupid fast, instantaneous, as if it was a normal, USB wired keyboard. I was impressed by that, as I did expect the Bluetooth connection to falter on occasion. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. The device worked with OneNote, Google Keep, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and any other app that you can think of. I didn’t have any problems with the entire typing experience whatsoever.
In conclusion, the FoWoo virtual Bluetooth laser keyboard offers good value for money. Even though the inconvenience with the inaccuracy factors into the user experience, for the price, the device has quite a lot to offer. I loved the portability and versatility of it, and I enjoyed having the comfort of a keyboard at hand wherever I was. You can buy the laser keyboard for yourself on GearBest, where it costs only $36, with free shipping. Be sure to take part in our giveaway for a chance to test one of these out yourself! Good luck!