Slightly twee naming aside, the LG Rolly Keyboard sounds like an enticing little gadget: an almost full-sized portable keyboard for tablets and smartphones that can be folded up to the size of a notebook battery. By connecting via Bluetooth 3.0, there's no wires required either.
LG was demonstrating this unusual bit of kit at the IFA trade show in Berlin, so we paid a visit to try it out for ourselves.
The Rolly Keyboard's four rows of keys are slightly separated and attached to a piece of cloth, allowing them to roll up into a long, thin cuboid. Four strips of plastic on the underside act like an outer casing when the keyboard is in this form, while magnets hold the whole thing together.
Generally, it feels surprisingly tough for a device that is designed to be flexible. The magnets keep a suitably secure grip, which should easily prevent it from, say, unfurling in a bag and exposing the relatively delicate keys within.
Speaking of which, the keys - crucially - feel like actual keys. They travel a bit and emit a soft "click", making them feel comfortably familiar to fixed small keyboards like one would find on a 2-in-1 laptop. Despite the modest dimensions - the Rolly Keyboard measures 263x25x25.mm when flat - these keys are also spaced apart fairly well, which helped us to type accurately.
Sadly, there are no dedicated number or function keys. Instead, the top row of keys must share letter, symbol and number duties, which isn't ideal for fast typing - though presumably necessary for it to form a cuboid.
There are, at least, a full set of arrow keys, which double up as volume and screen brightness controls for whatever device it's connected to. That said, they're not placed as they are on a full-sized board, with the Left and Right keys sitting to the left of the Up and Down keys, which form a separate column.
One nice little touch is the pair of fold-out arms, which can hold a tablet of horizontally-laid smartphone. This makeshift stand didn't have any trouble holding up a full-sized slate, and prevented it tipping backwards - impressive, since the Rolly Keyboard weighs a modest 156g - though the arms themselves are on fairly flimsy hinges. We can see them snapping off if they aren't tucked back in properly.
We tested the Rolly Keyboard on an Android tablet, but the Rolly Keyboard is compatible with iOS, Android and Windows devices alike. This makes it suitable for someone who owns, say, an iPhone and a Galaxy Tab S, as this keyboard will be able to work with both.
The Rolly Keyboard runs off a single AAA battery, which LG says will last up to three and a half months. We didn't have a spare three and a half months to test this claim, but on paper, that's a pretty long life - enough to soften the blow of having to buy batteries rather than just plugging in a charging cable.
Besides a couple of layout quirks, we were surprised by how close the Rolly Keyboard feels to typing on a conventional laptop. It's perhaps a little too cramped for penning great swathes of text, and we wouldn't want to use it as a main work keyboard even with a high-powered tablet, but it'll do an admirable job with emails and social media posts on the move. The fact that it folds up into such a compact but durable package is, of course, a welcome bonus.
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