Thursday, 26 July 2012

Google Nexus 7 - how to use with Bluetooth keyboard (iGo Stowaway Ultra Slim Think Outside)

The Google / Asus Nexus 7 tablet is far more than just an Amazon Kindle Fire competitor. It works well with a Bluetooth keyboard too, making it an ideal computing device for working on the move if you're a business user who finds a laptop or even iPad too heavy to be truly portable (eg if you have a bad back). See the end of this post for the weight comparisons.

How to pair the Nexus 7 with a Bluetooth keyboard

First here's a video demo of using Bluetooth keyboard with Google Drive on Nexus 7; instructions on pairing are below:

Below are step by step instructions on how to pair the Nexus 7 with a Bluetooth keyboard  - in my case, an ancient iGo Stowaway Ultra Slim Think Outside keyboard, sadly now discontinued - originally bought for use with the Nokia N95 smartphone, it's that old!

  1. Make the keyboard discoverable - with the Stowaway, you hold down at the same time the Ctrl, left Fn (blue) and right Fn (green) keys. A green light will flash slowly above the T button to confirm it's working.
  2. On the Nexus 7 go into the Settings (swipe down from the top and tap the Settings icon):

  3. In the Settings screen, in the "Wireless and Networks" section, slide the Bluetooth switch from "OFF" to "ON".

  4. You'll see a blue On button against "Bluetooth", as well as the Bluetooth icon showing at the top right of the screen. Now, tap on the word "Bluetooth" (in the list on the left under "Wireless and Networks"), and you'll get the following screen. Tap "Search for Devices" at the top right.

  5. Under "Available devices", your keyboard's name should appear. Tap its name.
  6. The Nexus 7 should pop up a message with a 4-digit numeric code to enter on your keyboard.
  7. On your keyboard, enter the 4-digit code given, and hit the Enter key.
  8. They should now be paired, and you should be able to use the keyboard with Nexus 7 apps. Type away!

  9. Tip: get a Bluetooth widget like the free Bluetooth OnOff so you can turn Bluetooth on and off quickly from your Home screen with one tap. (Obviously turning it off will save power when you're not using Bluetooth).

Why buy a Nexus 7 for portable working?

Just compare these weights:

  1. Nexus 7 (just 340 g) + iGo Stowaway Ultra Slim full-sized folding Bluetooth keyboard (160 g)
    = only 500 g.
  2. iPad 2 = 590 g - ie heavier than the above two items combined. Unfortunately the new iPad is even heavier, at 652 g.
  3. Microsoft's planned Surface tablet with built-in keyboard = 676 g for the lighter version (from the specifications).

So, it's the Nexus 7 for me, until someone produces a modern clamshell Psion 5mx with wi-fi and colour screen - my #1 wishlist item, it's still the best portable computer of all time, only 354 g including full touch-typable keyboard and batteries, and decent sized screen with zoom!

I strongly feel there's still a massive gap in the market for light, small form factor, full computers (my biggest gadget beef).

Weight, the first thing I check in specs, rarely gets mentioned in reviews, but it's an issue for some women, youngsters, and people with back problems who just can't physically carry around laptops, notebooks or even netbooks.

So it's heartening that it's not just me - the techie likes of certain Slashdot readers also consider size/weight first when buying a portable computer.


Shippy said...

Worked Great! I love my little keyboard and was searching for a driver when I found your post. It never occurred to me to just give it a try.


Anonymous said...

Thanks--I dug out my wonderful old stowaway keyboard, which I last used with a windows phone 3 or 4 years ago, and it paired up instantly with the Nexus.

Super lightweight solution.

Richard Ginn said...

Hi, I'm using the iGo keyboard (my Trust Bluetooth mouse works too). As I am British I would like to be able to use the UK pound currency symbol but it doesn't seem to work (neither do the Euro and Y with two lines through it either). Have you any suggestions as to how I can make this work?