Desk clutter can be a terrible demon, and typing on an iPhone can be a burdensome task. The CompuExpert Wow-Keys keyboard aims to address both of these matters by combining an iPhone-compatible keyboard with an iPhone dock. In this review, I’ll share my thoughts about how well the Wow-Keys keyboard accomplishes each of these tasks.
The Wow-Keys keyboard aims to combine a decent typing experience (on both the Mac and the iPhone) while providing a built-in dock to power and sync your iPhone.
In addition to its primary functions, the Wow-Keys also aims to make your iPhone more useful by allowing you to use it as an attached multitouch trackpad, a number pad, or a note-taking device by using iPhone apps to enhance its functionality.
The Wow-Keys looks nice enough at first glance, showing off an attractive black-on-white scheme that really stands out. The keyboard also attempts to save space with a compact design. Unfortunately, despite initially seeming promising, the Wow-Keys has a number of unfortunate design problems that prevent it from being very usable.
The first major issue is the keyboard itself. The layout of the keyboard is quite frankly a nightmare. Between the unusual placement of its Control, Function, Command and Alt keys, and the fact that the function keys don’t always do what they’re labeled as doing, I became frustrated after just a few minutes of using this keyboard.
In addition, CompuExpert compacted the actual typing area far too much in order to make room for the iPhone dock, resulting in a keyboard that feels cramped and unnatural, and is very difficult to use for long periods of time.
In addition to this keyboard’s cramped nature, the typing action also leaves much to be desired. They keys feel extremely mushy, failing to provide an acceptable amount of resistance. This provides for a terrible typing experience that becomes tiring very, very quickly. The keyboard also lacks backlighting, which is especially miserable considering that it uses black keys.
To add insult to injury, the keyboard also lacks seemingly obvious features for a wired keyboard, namely the inclusion of USB ports. Meanwhile, the iPhone dock, while it looks nice and seats the iPhone flush with the keyboard, doesn’t always work right. For some reason, the dock forces iTunes to auto-sync every time you insert your phone, which becomes annoying very quickly.
Further, anyone who attempts to use the iPhone as a trackpad and also use the keyboard will find themselves shuffling the keyboard across the desk repeatedly, as the keyboard is so poorly centered that using the trackpad forces you to off-center the keyboard, making it much more difficult to type, and keeping the keyboard centered between both hands makes it uncomfortable to use the iPhone as a trackpad.
To its credit, the Wow-Keys does make it very easy to switch inputs between the iPhone and your Mac. Simply pressing a button on the right-hand side of the keyboard handles this task very neatly. It’s disappointing, however, that this is one of the very few things the device does well.
Also, while the website advertises the ability to use your iPhone as a trackpad or a number pad, the company does not make any apps available to take advantage of these features, so if you were hoping to use these features right out of the box, you’ll be sorely disappointed (and you’ll probably have to spend money to buy apps, if you can even find the apps necessary to do each of these things).
When you first plug the keyboard in and mount your iPhone, you are directed to go to the App Store. Unfortunately, you only end up at the main directory of the App Store, which is especially obnoxious – CompuExpert apparently never got around to developing whichever app they wanted you to download.
While I could continue typing out things I didn’t like about this keyboard, things it doesn’t do well, or its obvious design shortcomings, you’ve probably already got the idea that I don’t consider this keyboard to be worth buying. At all.
For the $99.99 that CompuExpert asks for this keyboard, all you end up with is a poor keyboard that’s uncomfortable to use, function keys that don’t work correctly, and a whole heap of promises that don’t pan out because CompuExpert didn’t think them through all the way.
Rating & Conclusion
For its high price (at least in comparison to its usefulness and quality), poor design, lack of advertised features (such as turning your iPhone into a numpad), and the fact that it’s overall more trouble using this keyboard than it could ever hope to be worth, I award the CompuExpert Wow-Keys a disappointing 1 out of 5.
CompuExpert really dropped the ball, and ought to recall these keyboards and give everyone their money back. Better yet, they just should have produced a quality product in the first place. I won’t even bother listing pros and cons for this review, because I’d end up with a list of over a dozen cons, and only a single positive note – switching between the iPhone & the Mac seems to work well.
For more information, or to purchase the Wow-Keys keyboard ($99.99), visit CompuExpert’s official site on the web. But seriously, don’t buy this. The Wow-Keys seems exciting and useful at first, but all you end up with in the end is a big, heavy, heaping bag of failure.