Small and wireless compact keyboards aim to provide convenience away from the sometimes-headache-inducing world of cables. In an already thoroughly saturated market – the folks at Alcatroz have put forth the Xplorer GO 300BT to compete with the rest of the competition. Not exactly an easy thing to do, especially considering the plethora of reputable and well-made keyboards in the same price bracket. So what does the Xplorer 300BT offer to stand out amidst the opposition?
There’s no doubt that this keyboard presents itself well straight out of the box. Although plastic, the semi-matte finish looks modern and sleek with great fit and finish to match. The texture feels great in the hand – bonus points for being smooth without doubling up as a dreaded fingerprint magnet. The form factor is slim and lightweight making it a viable option when portability is a necessity. Aqua blue accents are used to mark function commands across the keycaps, adding a nice subtle flare to the design. It’s somewhat reminiscent of something we’d find on a gaming-orientated keyboard. Likewise, the font used to inscribe the alphanumeric keys is very modern and appealing – retaining the ‘gamer’ aesthetic per se.
However, we couldn’t help but notice a discrepancy between the standard QWERTY line and the modifier keys which employ a minimalistic a-la-Apple font. Although we’re being nit-picky here, we don’t know why the sudden difference came about and it really wasn’t our cup of tea.
Keys on the Xplorer 300BT are arranged in the increasing-popular chiclet style – and we put it to the test in a range of varying use case scenarios. The keys themselves have a small actuation distance and are rather easy to press. Keystrokes were consistently registered and we didn’t find ourselves missing letters throughout our typing experience. Casually chatting away to our friends, the Xplorer offered a reasonable typing experience without noticeable flaw aside from the marginally reduced travel between keys compared to a full-size keyboard – this didn’t bother us too much.
Nonetheless, when we began to write full-length articles over extended periods of time, we found our fingertips becoming noticeably sore time after time. But to us, that’s not what this keyboard was designed for. It was designed to be a full keyboard to use at a moment’s notice. Say perhaps, out at a cafe. Or on the train. Times at which you wouldn’t use it for hours upon hours. And that’s exactly where its prowess became apparent.
Last week, I carried the keyboard around with me in my slimline saddlebag having already set it up for use with my Android phone, iPhone, and laptop. I had thought long and hard about I might explore the use of the keyboard, but I was left without avail.
Then came Friday afternoon. I had just left the office for the day and on my leisurely walk home through the local park, I received an urgent message from the manager of a project I had been working on. He was in a meeting and the board of directors had requested some progress updates he didn’t have. The subject line was clear. “PROGRESS UPDATES NOW ASAP” with a blank body section to accompany. I knew what that meant – an immediate response or no paycheck next week. The reply was going to be lengthy, a single point to show for two months of the project is never good. I unclipped the buckles of my bag… only to be greeted without a laptop. I had left it in the office. Oh boy.
My thumbs prepared for their demise but I figured there would be no harm in trying the Xplorer GO 300BT. I expected it to at least offer a better experience than on-screen typing. And quite frankly, to say that it accomplished that would be a grave understatement. It was brilliant. Being able to pull it out, flick it on and begin touch-typing at full speed was incredible. Without hesitation, I would describe the typing experience as magnitudes better than dealing with the on-screen keyboard (not to forget the joys of circumventing predictive text!).
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The bottom line
The Xplorer GO! 300BT was a rather ordinary keyboard when used at a desk. But on-the-go, it was nothing short of remarkable for its price point.
It goes without saying – the keyboard isn’t entirely perfect. The battery can’t be replaced and there are a few nit-picky nevertheless questionable design choices made by Alcatroz. But being able to pull it right out of a small bag, flick it on and suddenly have a great portable typing experience for RM 69 is a truly remarkable thing.
If you need something to compose your next Pulitzer Prize-winning narrative, we’d advise you to look elsewhere. If however, you need a compact keyboard that takes up little space and offers you a great instantaneous typing experience for a modest price – we’d be inclined to recommend the Xplorer 300BT. Thanks for sponsoring this review, Armaggeddon!