sweet tooth I get. bluetooth not so much
February 19, 2015 7:46 AM   Subscribe

How do you use a bluetooth keyboard efficiently?

I got a bluetooth keyboard to make typing on my phone and ipad easier. I understand how to connect it, but I don't know how to use it wisely. Please give me advice!

Specific questions I have -

1. What is the fastest way (least actions) to connect the keyboard? Can the ipad/phone and keyboard be permanently matched?

2. Should I be constantly turning my phone/ipad's bluetooth on and off (does it drain the battery if left on? is it unwise for my privacy to leave it on? might be pathetic to ask, but is the open bluetooth frequency bad for my health?)?

3. How often should I charge the keyboard? What should I know about caring for the keyboard (manual's in Chinese)?

posted by mirileh to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Without knowing the specific model of keyboard, it's hard to give very specific answers.
Generally though, if you only link the keyboard to one device, it should automatically reconnect when in range and bluetooth is active on both devices. If you are pairing with both a phone and iPad, you'll probably need to re-pair each time as the keyboard won't know which device it's supposed to communicate with.

Keeping bluetooth on when you're not using it does use up a negligible amount of battery on a phone or iPad - but unless you're already experiencing horrible battery life for other reasons, you probably won't notice much of a difference. You'll probably want to turn off the keyboard when you're not using it though.

As for frequency of charging for the keyboard - I assume it's got a rechargeable battery inside that requires you to plug into USB? If it's using Bluetooth 4.0, or even 3.0, you can probably go a month or more between charges as the more recent versions of the spec (and the chips that use it) are very low-power. But a lot of cheap peripherals still use Bluetooth 2.1 which isn't as good at saving energy. You should probably just use it until it dies once or twice and see how much time you get out of it, then create your own charging schedule.
posted by trivia genius at 8:01 AM on February 19, 2015

1. Ideally, they will connect automatically any time they are both on and near each other. In my lived experience, this varies greatly depending on the Bluetooth device, and even in the best cases doesn't work 100% of the time. The best results I have found is to have the phone/tablet on and unlocked, then power on the keyboard, and wait a second or two. I often find that the first keypress I make is not registered, but then it kicks in just fine.

2. It does affect battery life, but not dramatically. I'd say less than 5% over the course of a day. It is my understanding that it is secure in that a bluetooth device cannot connect to your phone without permission. I'm sure there are attack vectors that use bluetooth, but I think the risk/reward analysis does not support turning it off for security purposes, for me at least. I know nothing about the health issue, but I would be veeeery skeptical of claims that it is harmful, based on my understanding of the cell phone health situation.

3. It will probably hold a charge for weeks if not months, but if you rely on it, it's not a bad idea to keep it charging whenever it is not in use, so that you know it is always ready for you.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:02 AM on February 19, 2015

Is bluetooth radio bad for your health? No. Bluetooth keyboards are probably not great on your wrists for long stretches of typing because of their form-factor, not to mention the randomly-positioned surfaces one might be inclined to type on. But it beats the one-screen keyboard, at least.

Does it use battery? Yes; the type of bluetooth that connects to keyboard is not the low-power bluetooth that is designed to talk to small devices like fitness trackers and watches. Whether it uses your battery to any significant degree depends on your other usage of the iPad. Try leaving it on and see what happens to your battery life.

Charge the keyboard at least bi-weekly. Turn it off when not in use. It doesn't use a lot of power, but most likely it has a small battery.

Connecting should be as simple as turning on the keyboard in the vicinity of the (bluetooth on) iPad. It might take a little time, about 20 seconds, and in the keyboards I've used, they wanted you to hit a button to induce the connection, but if that button doesn't work, any button should do.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:15 AM on February 19, 2015

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