How to Attach a Keyboard to Your Tablet

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How to Attach a Keyboard to Your Tablet

One of the joys of having a tablet PC is its mobility and ease of use. However, there are times when a physical keyboard is more useful than the virtual keyboard on the touchscreen. There are a variety of keyboards made specifically for tablets available on the market. Considering the variety of keyboard styles and the variety of tablet designs, it's not surprising that connecting or pairing the two can be a daunting task. This guide provides information on attaching a keyboard to a tablet, including different types of keyboards and tablets, troubleshooting when something goes wrong, as well as information on how to find the correct kind of keyboard on eBay.


Keyboards for Tablets

There is a bewildering array of keyboards available for tablets in many different sizes and with all kinds of new features. Those who already have a keyboard for a tablet can skip to the section below entitled Keyboard Connectivity. Those who are still in the market for a keyboard should look at the various types detailed here and find the model best suited to the tablet in question.

Keyboard Types and Features

Different keyboards are designed with different priorities in mind. Priorities in choosing a keyboard include comfort, portability, power source, and connectivity. When buying a keyboard, check not only the hardware specifications but also the compatible operating systems. Here are the main kinds of keyboards available.

Mini Keyboards

Mini keyboards are as small in length as the tablet itself or even shorter. They are made for those who want portability over all other considerations. They most often use Bluetooth wireless technology and "multi-link" mini keyboards can link to several Bluetooth devices for convenience.

Ergonomic Keyboards

Ergonomic keyboards are a great idea for those who spend many hours a day typing. The curve and the incline of the keyboard as well as the palm rest help avoid common ailments such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. These keyboards are certainly not compact and may be either corded or wireless.

Solar-Powered Keyboards

Solar - powered keyboards do not drain the tablet's power as many corded keyboards do, and they do not require batteries as do wireless keyboards. As of 2012, Logitech is the primary manufacturer of such keyboards, which are sold alone or as part of a tablet folio.

Keyboard Docks and Folios

Those who buy just a keyboard will also have to invest in some sort of stand for the tablet so that it stays upright when one is typing. A keyboard dock addresses that need. A dock or a folio is a stand for the tablet that has a built-in keyboard. A dock generally just holds the tablet upright behind the keyboard. A folio,, on the other hand, closes like a laptop to encase and protect the tablet. Docks often add to the battery life of a tablet.

Roll-Up Keyboards

With silicone making its way into an ever-increasing number of products on the consumer market, it should come as no surprise that there are silicone keyboards that can actually roll up for the ultimate in portability. Unrolled, the keyboard is the standard size, which means all the comfort of a full-size keyboard.

Keyboard/Mouse Combinations

Some keyboards have an integrated mouse in the form of a trackball or a touchpad. If a mouse will be necessary, avoid cluttering the desk with a separate device and buy a keyboard with an integrated mouse instead.

Keyboard Connectivity

Of course, the most important characteristic of a keyboard is how it connects to the tablet. The PS/2 connectors that were common are completely antiquated as of 2012. USB connections have become the norm, with Bluetooth rapidly overtaking the market. Here is what one needs to know in order to connect a keyboard with a tablet.

Standard USB

The most common connector is a wired USB plug. USB devices are usually very simple to connect. Simply plug the keyboard into the USB port on the tablet. The tablet should recognize the keyboard immediately. Unlike older PS/2 connections, the tablet does not have to be turned off in order to connect the keyboard.

Wireless Bluetooth

Linking or pairing a wireless keyboard can be easy or difficult depending on various factors, like the operating system of the tablet and the brand of the keyboard. For tablets that have built-in Bluetooth capability, follow the steps below. The process may differ slightly for different brands or different tablet operating systems (Windows, Android, iOS, etc.).

  1. Turn on the tablet. Go through the settings to make sure Bluetooth is enabled or "ON."
  2. Make sure the wireless keyboard has new batteries.
  3. For Android tablets, go to Bluetooth settings and click "Find Nearby Devices." This is unnecessary for iPads.
  4. Turn on the wireless keyboard. The LED light should turn on. Depending on the model, it may turn off after a few seconds. This is normal. Apple keyboards do not have any other button (and the light should begin to flash immediately), but other brands may have a "Connect" button.
  5. If there is a "Connect" button (sometimes located on the back of the keyboard), press it. This should make the Bluetooth LED light flash. A flashing light generally indicates that the keyboard is "discoverable." Some models do not have a flashing light.
  6. Once the light is flashing or is completely on, wait for the device to appear in a list of Bluetooth devices recognized by the tablet.
  7. Choose the keyboard when it appears by name on the tablet. A pin number to be entered on the keyboard will typically appear. This is to ensure that the device that will be paired is authorized by the tablet user.
  8. Enter the pin number shown on the tablet.
  9. The keyboard is now paired with the tablet. This means they will "recognize" each other every time they are powered on within approximately 30 feet of each other. They do not have to be unpaired until the keyboard must be replaced.

Wireless RF Technology

Many people do not realize that Bluetooth is not the only wireless technology for keyboards. An RF keyboard can be linked to a tablet as long as the tablet has a USB port where a RF receiver can be connected. Follow the steps below to connect a wireless RF keyboard to a tablet.

  1. Connect the RF receiver to the tablet's USB port. The tablet can be on or off.
  2. Press the button on the receiver and the button on the keyboard in order to sync the two.
  3. Lights on both should be on and the keyboard should work on the tablet.


Tablet Types

Most tablets today have USB ports and Bluetooth capabilities. That said, before buying a keyboard, it's important to know what capabilities the tablet has. Many tablet owners have bought wireless Bluetooth keyboards and Bluetooth dongles for their tablets only to find out that Bluetooth is not supported at all. This is the case with many smaller brands or generic Chinese tablets made before 2010. Even when a Bluetooth dongle may work for other Bluetooth devices, the dongle may not support a keyboard or other HID devices. Be sure to check with the dongle or tablet manufacturer for all necessary specifications before buying a Bluetooth keyboard. In any case, a corded keyboard or a wireless RF keyboard will easily solve the problem.


Troubleshooting

As with all gadgets, there is always the possibility of something going wrong. The good news is that the majority of the time, the problem can be easily fixed. Use the table below to find solutions to some possible problems with USB keyboards.
 

USB Keyboard Problems

Possible Solution

Light on keyboard does not come on. Keyboard does not work.

If possible, plug the keyboard into a different computer to check that the USB plug is working correctly. If the keyboard still does not work, double-check the compatible platforms for the keyboard, and contact the manufacturer if necessary.

Keyboard works on another machine but does not work on the tablet.

Check that the tablet's USB port works by plugging in another device. If other devices work but the keyboard does not, double-check compatibility. If no devices work, the tablet's USB port may be at fault.

USB plug does not fit port on tablet.

Some tablets may have only a mini-USB port. In this case, the problem can be easily solved with a USB Female A to mini USB 5 pin Male B adapter..


Use the table below to find solutions to some possible problems with Bluetooth keyboards.
 

Bluetooth Keyboard Problems

Possible Solution

No Bluetooth settings found on tablet.

Check that the tablet has in-built Bluetooth capability. If the tablet has external BT capability, it will need a Bluetooth dongle (an adapter that connects to the USB port) and possibly drivers that have to be installed.

Keyboard does not turn on.

Insert new batteries.

Keyboard turns on but does not sync with the tablet.

First, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on the tablet. Then, make sure the tablet is searching for devices at the same time the keyboard is discoverable. There is usually a time period of a few minutes within which the device should be recognized by the tablet. Otherwise, the keyboard will turn off automatically or the tablet will stop searching for security reasons.


Use the table below to find solutions to some possible problems with RF keyboards.
 

 RF Keyboard Problems

Possible Solutions

Receiver light does not turn on.

Check receiver in a different USB port.

Keyboard light does not turn on.

Insert new batteries.

Both receiver and keyboard lights come on, but keyboard does not work properly.

Turn off tablet. Wait 30 seconds and turn on again.


Finding Keyboards on eBay

Everything from docks to roll-up keyboards are available on eBay, and it is up to the buyer to decide which keyboard is right for them. The products that offer the most trouble-free operation for the tablet are the keyboards made especially for that brand and model, either by the tablet manufacturer or by third parties.

Finding the keyboard you need is easy. Go to eBay's home page and click on Computers, Tablets & Networking, an option under the Electronics category. Then enter the search term "keyboards" in the search box. The resulting page will show a menu on the left hand side with various subcategories and search criteria. Choose Keyboards, Mice, & Pointing and then the subcategory Keyboards and Keypads. Now you can refine the search by Type and Connectivity, the two most important criteria. Alternatively, enter the name of your tablet in the search box to find all the keyboards designed especially for your tablet.

Take advantage of eBay's safety features by checking the seller's reputation, which is presented as a percentage of positive feedback. Also make sure you know the terms of the return policy, if there is one.


Conclusion

Attaching a keyboard to a tablet can be the simplest thing in the world if all goes well. However, when using a brand different from the brand of the tablet and unfamiliar technologies, linking the keyboard to the tablet can become a little more complicated. Most problems can be avoided by choosing the type of keyboard best suited to the tablet. One should be aware of the tablet's capabilities and specifications. By following the instructions in this guide and troubleshooting if necessary with the information included above, a user can pair a keyboard and tablet without hassle. Those who have yet to buy a keyboard for their tablet can find brand-specific models on eBay, which will make keyboard connectivity a breeze.

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