I got a Nexus 7 tablet recently and I like it so much I am toting it around with me everywhere. It is ideal for capturing ideas as I have them. And since I am doing lots of writing to prepare for the launch of Mondo Player, I am relying on my tablet even more.
Let’s be honest and admit that typing on Android devices is slower. Even if you install apps like the Swype keyboard, which I love, you still can’t get the same speed as a physical keyboard. I am a fast touch typist so for me to reach true productivity, I need a proper keyboard. So I began to search for an external Bluetooth Keyboard.
How to Choose a Keyboard
1. Determine your Needs
In my case, I wanted a keyboard that would fit into my small sling pack so I could carry it along with my tablet to coffee shops and restaurants. It had to work with my Android devices. I have a Samsung Galaxy phone, and 2 tablets – a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and a Nexus 7 . It also had to have a good power source so I could use it for reasonable time periods.
2. List your Needs
Here are the criteria I used to choose my keyboard:
• size and weight
• power source
• ease of use
• ability to use with Android devices
Based on my criteria, I chose the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard.
A Review of the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard
● Uses 2 AAA batteries making it lighter than others that use up to 4 batteries
● Compact design – 10 inches by 4 inches x 0.5 inches
● Weighs just under 1 lb
● Has a cover that doubles as a stand for your tablet. Keeps the tablet clean, stops it from turning on accidentally, turns it off automatically and insures you have a free hand for coffee.
● Does not consume a USB port
• Can only be paired with 1 device. I only use it with my Nexus 7 tablet and I would like to use it occasionally with my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, but I would have to pair the keyboard each time I switched between tablets.
• No space between the keys. Those with large hands may find it a bit cramped.
• Takes fiddling to get it to work properly with Android devices (see below)
Taking the Keyboard Out for a Field Test
I was delighted with my set up and was excited to do my first serious piece of writing. So off I went to the coffee shop to enjoy an Americano and get some work done. I had no trouble pairing the keyboard with the tablet but when I typed on the keyboard it was if the keyboard was possessed.
The Problem of Random Repeated Letters
My first sentence came out something like this:
Thissssss iiiiiissssss aaaaaaaaaaaaaa tesssssssssssssttt
I got randomly repeating letters and spaces I had not typed. The Delete key also did not work, making it awkward to edit text. Nothing I tried fixed these problems. I had to pack up my Wedge keyboard and abandon my maiden attempt.
How to Solve Problems with an Android Tablet and an External Keyboard
A couple of hours on Google revealed that erratic keyboard behaviour was common when using external keyboards with Android tablets. I found bits and pieces of solutions scattered over the web but there was no single post that offered a solution to this problem. So, in the interest of saving you hours of fiddling I am sharing my solution. This is what I did for my Nexus 7 tablet. Rise and repeat for your other Android devices. Click one of the share buttons below to get my solution.
Step 1 – Install External Keyboard Helper Pro by Apedroid on your Nexus 7 Tablet
External Keyboard Helper Pro is available on the Google Play store for $2.53. It is a non-visible keyboard for use with Bluetooth and USB external keyboards.
Step 2 – Change the Touch and hold delay setting on your Nexus 7 Tablet
- In the Settings screen go to Accessibility.
- Choose Touch & hold delay and set it to Long.
When the Touch and hold setting is on short or medium your keyboard is more likely to repeat letters when you touch a key even when you don’t want to do this. Setting this to Long prevents unwanted repeated letters when you type on a key on your Wedge keyboard.
Step 3 – Set Up External Keyboard Helper Pro as a Keyboard on your Tablet
- In the Nexus 7 Settings Screen go to Language and Input.
- Under Keyboard & Input Methods select External Keyboard Helper Pro as the Default
If you do not always use your external Wedge keyboard with your tablet you will need to change the keyboard and input method when you switch between the keyboard you use on your tablet and the Wedge keyboard. In my case, I use Swype on my tablet so when I want to switch to using my Wedge keyboard I have to change the keyboard and input method from Swype to External Keyboard Helper Pro.
Step 4 – Fix the Delete Key on your Wedge Keyboard
To do this you will need to have your Wedge keyboard connected to your tablet and turned on.
- When you turn on your keyboard a pop up will appear asking you to choose your input method.
- Choose External Keyboard Helper Pro.
Go to the External Keyboard Helper app on your Nexus 7
- The first screen you will see is External Keyboard Helper Settings
- Choose Advanced settings which will allow you to customize key mappings.
- You should now be on a screen called Keyboard Mapping Settings.
- Choose Customize keyboard mappings.
- You will now be on a screen called Customize keyboard mappings.
- Choose Add new key mapping at the top of the menu.
- You should now be on a screen called Customize single key mapping.
- Put cursor in the Scancode field.
- Hit the Delete key on your Wedge keyboard and the scancode for that key will appear in the Scancode field as 111.
- Now put your cursor in the Shift field and type 0x002a Tap on Save. You will now see an entry in your keyboard mappings that says 111 * Shift.
The final result should look like this:
To test your work go to Gmail and compose a test email. You should be able to delete a letter using the Delete key.
For some strange reason the Delete key mapping does not work in Google Docs. But I have a fix for that. If you use Shift+Backspace it works like a Delete key.
I hope you will be as happy with your Wedge keyboard and Android tablet as I am.
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