When it comes to typing on phones, things have changed remarkably over the past few years. Physical keyboards used to be the name of the game, dominating the phone market. Nearly every phone, smart or otherwise, came with some sort of physical keyboard to aid in typing. Then the wave of touchscreen phones arrived, and with it came the death of the physical keyboard. Now we’ve reached the point that it’s an extreme rarity to see a physical keyboard on a smartphone. But there’s a new type of keyboard that could supplement people’s smartphones and tablets to aid in typing longer documents. That keyboard is the Atongm Bluetooth Laser Keyboard.
While it may sound like something out of sci-fi movie, the Atongm Bluetooth Laser Keyboard is actually a simple concept. A laser projects a keyboard onto a flat surface, and then a sensor picks up when your fingers (or any other object) tap against the projected keys. Other than that, there’s not much to it. The keyboard connects to tablets, phones and PCs over Bluetooth, making it compatible with nearly everything.
Connecting a device to the Atongm Bluetooth Laser Keyboard can be a bit confusing at first. The laser keyboard will be up and running, but if you scan for it with your device, you probably won’t find it. The laser keyboard doesn’t usually have Bluetooth turned on by default, which is confounding until you realize it. It can appear to be working correctly but your device won’t detect it. To turn Bluetooth on the keyboard on, simply hold down FN + B and the device will let out a long beep and a slowly flashing blue light will appear on the bottom left of the device, indicating that it’s ready to connect.
Once connected, you can type with the keyboard just like you would type with a virtual keyboard. Tapping onto a hard surface and having letters appear takes a bit of getting used to, and you’ll probably make more than a few mistakes as you’re acclimating to the process. Once you’ve adjusted, you’ll find that you can type moderately swiftly on the laser keyboard and it’ll pick up your keystrokes.
Unfortunately, the very nature of the device hinders it from being too useful to very fast typists. The sensor simply can’t pick up all of the keystrokes if you type very quickly, so expect it to be slower than typing on a physical keyboard. The size and layout, however, help to make up for that, as it follows a fairly standard layout for a keyboard of that size. That means that you have a full QWERTY layout with special keys around. For typing anything longer, it makes it much more comfortable, especially on your hands and wrists.
On each keypress, the device is set to beep. While useful when learning to use the keyboard, it quickly grows to become a nuisance. Fortunately a simple key code of FN + P will turn off the sound with a long beep, but I wish the device had a memory for whether the sound was on or off. Whenever the device is turned off and then turned back on, the sound is automatically on, making it a bit noisy to use in class before you have a chance to turn off the sound.
As a whole, the Atongm Bluetooth Laser Keyboard is a good device. It’s built well, functions well and despite a few minor niggles, it manages to improve the typing experience on a smartphone or tablet. Some might say that a laser keyboard is a gimmick, but I’d contest that even if it is a gimmick, it’s a useful one. And those are the kind of gimmicks that everybody enjoys.