Model: Multi-Sync Keyboard
Compatible: All iPads, iPhone 3GS/4/4s/5/5s/5c, Apple TV 2G/3G
Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard for iPad, iPhone, Apple TV + Mac
Kanex's Multi-Sync Keyboard ($69) is the second keyboard we've seen that's designed to easily switch between multiple devices, including your computer, following the impressive Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard from Logitech. This one is an extended keyboard with a full number pad, which makes it significantly longer. Using Bluetooth 3.0, it can pair wirelessly with up to three devices at a time. Additionally, you have the option of physically plugging it into your Mac -- a fourth device -- so that it's running over bus power and not the included AAA batteries, which even works to power the Multi-Sync Keyboard for Bluetooth use with other devices. A folding stand is included to hold your device while typing.
Logitech’s keyboard was made to be carried around, with a footprint almost identical to that of Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard. Multi-Sync Keyboard is much larger. It’s almost 17.5” long, 5” deep, and just shy of 0.8” tall. The body is entirely made of plastic, with a gray panel on top of a white base, and white keys popping through. Kanex took advantage of the size to not only offer a full QWERTY layout, but also a number pad to the right. Additionally, the F1 through F15 keys offer functionality such as switching between connections, adjusting brightness, and changing volume levels.
Although the keys are just a bit squishier than those on Apple’s keyboard, we were quite pleased with how well they performed. It took us no time to adjust to the layout, and we felt very comfortable typing for extended periods of time. Fold-out feet on the bottom can raise the angle of the keyboard to your desired level. There are fewer iOS-specific function keys compared to other dedicated iPad keyboards. In addition to the volume and playback controls, the other functions are the F12 power key, which locks and unlocks the display, the Home Button to the left of the left control key, and the Spotlight button to the right of the right control. Both bring you out of any app, back to the Home Screen, but it’s only the left button that’ll pull up the app switcher when double-tapped. The Spotlight key notably doesn’t bring up the feature, which moved with the introduction of iOS 7.
To pair with an iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, or computer over Bluetooth, you must first turn the keyboard on with the switch on the underside, then hold down one of the three Bluetooth channel function keys, and press the pairing button next to the power. For a wired Mac or PC connection, you simply plug in the included micro-USB cable. You can then easily switch between all your connected devices simply by hitting the appropriate key. It takes about three seconds for the switch to happen, but it’s otherwise seamless. Flashing LEDs in the top right corner of the keyboard indicate when you switch between devices. Battery life isn’t listed, although the users’ guide states that the keyboard will go to sleep after half an hour of inactivity.
There’s a lot to like with the Multi-Sync Keyboard. It types as well as we’d expected, offers easy and fast switching between up to four devices, and packs a numeric keypad, which we almost never see these days. We have two main criticisms, though. The first is a lack of rechargeable battery power, which helps keep the cost down but also lowers the level of convenience. Secondly, there’s the size. While it would work well being moved from room to room in a house, it’s not well-suited for travel; it’s really made to be kept at a desk most of the time, then moved around as necessary for Bluetooth use with other devices. Although the $69 price tag is appealing by comparison with Logitech’s $100 Easy-Switch Keyboard, the Multi-Sync Keyboard’s much larger size means that the two products will appeal to different types of users. We view Kanex’s option as equivalent to a $40 wired desktop computer keyboard with the Bluetooth option as a $30 premium, a reasonable asking price for the functionality and design here. The Multi-Sync Keyboard earns our strong general recommendation and B+ rating.