Make your favorite keyboard a Bluetooth keyboard

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A lot of you already have a Bluetooth keyboard you love. Whether it’s a keyboard just for your iPad or one on your desktop that can serve both, they’re pretty ubiquitous. But a significant portion of the nerd community has a favorite keyboard that isn’t Bluetooth.

My favorite keyboard is the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard. You may recall me writing about it last year after having had it for a few months. It’s still my favorite keyboard. To the extent that I wished I could use it with my iPad Pro, at least when I was at home (mechanical keyboards aren’t the pinnacle of portability). I’d tried a few solutions that all had showstopping limitations. Then I found the Handheld Scientific Bluetooth Adapter.

For $35US, this little device has a USB slot that will turn just about any keyboard into a Bluetooth device. It’s not the sleekest-looking design, but it has no issues with functionality. It requires power, so it either needs to be plugged into a hub or a battery pack, but beyond that it’s a very portable little stick. And it works perfectly.

The device has a button on it that toggles between a passthrough (USB) mode, a Bluetooth only mode, and both. This means that when it’s plugged into your computer, you can toggle your keyboard between writing on your iPad and writing on your computer. You can also write on both at once, though I’m not sure why you’d want to do that. While not a multi-device keyboard like Logitech’s K780 (which can toggle between multiple Bluetooth connections), it does provide the ability to easily use your desktop and portable device with the same keyboard.

With some previous brands of this type of adapter, I’d run into problems with a good number of my keys not working on an iOS device. The Scientific Handheld adapter registers every programmed key properly, including media keys. With the UHK I can even have an entirely separate layout I can switch to for iOS use, and everything just works. The compatibility list mentions that UHK’s Mouse Mode doesn’t work, but that’s irrelevant for iPad usage.

There’s even a crazy command mode. You can open any text editor and press and hold the adapter’s button and it will start talking to you. You get a command prompt where you can query, change settings, and even program macros for your keyboard. It also allows you to remap keys; while I can’t have a hyper key on iOS, I can at least remap the Caps Lock to an escape key.

If you have a favorite mechanical (or otherwise non-Bluetooth) keyboard, this is a small investment that will extend your typing joy to new platforms. Find it at Handheld Scientific.

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