A keyboard dock can add a big amount of usability to a smartphone, as we’ve seen with the Motorola Lapdocks, and looks right at home on a tablet, like the ASUS Transformer Prime. The next manufacturer to add a keyboard option to its hardware looks like it’s going to be RIM, thanks to the company’s Mini Keyboard for its PlayBook tablet.
Now technically, this isn’t another docking situation, since the Mini Keyboard connects wirelessly over Bluetooth. What sets it apart from a generic Bluetooth keyboard, beyond showing-off design choices that match the PlayBook’s, is the convertible case that lets you carry it around with your PlayBook and fold the case open to work on your tablet as if it were a laptop computer. The only annoying thing about this arrangement is that you need to keep the keyboard charged separately, but RIM claims it could last up to a month on a single charge.
The Mini Keyboard’s touchpad supports multi-touch gesture inputs, simulating left- or right-clicks. The inclusion of such a feature means you’ll be keeping your hands off the screen, and that should go a long way to making its use feel more like a real laptop.
Look for the PlayBook Mini Keyboard to cost in the $100-$120 range and start shipping around March 23.