I’ve been looking for a small Bluetooth keyboard to take with me on trips for a long time now. I own a few other Bluetooth keyboards, but my others are either too big to be portable, or more suited for use with a computer, and not a mobile device. That is where the iClever IC-BK04 Bluetooth keyboard comes in. On paper, it seemed to do everything I needed and more.
iClever says this is an aluminum keyboard, but when I first saw the pictures of it online, it looked more like plastic. It’s the middle of winter here, and when it arrived in the mail I immediately took it out of the box to find it was freezing cold like metal. The top, and possibly the sides, might be actual aluminum, but the bottom definitely isn’t. I’m still not 100% sure if it’s aluminum, but it’s very thin and light if it is. Either way, I really like the dark color and aluminum grain it has.
It also has a raised top and bottom allowing the keys to be recessed, so they don’t get damaged if you put it face down. This is perfect when storing or cramming in a bag as there is less need to worry about the keys getting caught on anything and be pulled off.
Other than the expected keys, there is a charging port at the side as well as an on/off switch and various connectivity lights at the top. Overall, it has a very nice, simple, and clean design. The keyboard was not very expensive, but looks nicer than what it costs, which is always a plus.
However, the coolest thing about this keyboard is the fact that you can change the backlight color to whatever you like best. You have a choice of 7 colors to choose from and two different brightness intensities. Just press the “light button” to turn the backlight to level 1, level 2, or off. If you want to change the color, hold the light button and press the up or down arrow.
Having backlit keys is critical for writing in darker environments, but the fact that they change color is just awesome. Realistically, most Bluetooth keyboards are very similar, but I like how this one tries to go that extra mile to impress the user. Seriously, just look at how cool it looks in the dark (lights don’t change automatically).
Being aluminum, I didn’t expect it to be heavy, but I did expect it to have some weight to it. It does not. It’s crazy light, it’s like holding nothing, and the actual weight is only 212g. This is only a little more than your average smartphone. Even though it weighs a tiny bit more, it feels basically the same weight as my Galaxy S6 Edge. The size is also tiny. It’s actually smaller than the tablet I was testing it with. If you’re travelling a lot, this would be perfect to toss in your bag to take with you. Especially for long trips on planes where luggage space and weight is critical to keep to a minimum.
The small size and extreme thinnest is great, but it does have a tendency to bend a little. You won’t notice this when using it, so it’s not really a problem, but I wouldn’t recommend trying to twist it on purpose. Again, you probably won’t, and shouldn’t, be doing that anyway, but I’m just telling you to give all the facts.
To put the small size into perspective, I have taken a picture of it compared to the standard Apple keyboard. As you can see, the iClever keyboard is quite smaller
This isn’t a comparison review, but when I put this keyboard next to the Apple keyboard I did notice one other difference. This one doesn’t have any “sticky pads” on the bottom to help stop it from sliding. If you’re using it on a wooden desk or something with texture it doesn’t slide around too much, but on glass it can’t grip very well. The bottom is slightly textured to provide some grip, but the extreme light weight doesn’t offer the heft needed to really keep it planted. When typing, your hands are holding it down a little making this not a huge problem, but I would recommend adding some sort of textured sticker or thin stoppers on the bottom to help it grip a little better.
This is really the section that is the most important. Does it work or not? The answer is yes, it works great. The keys press down really easy and have a nice depth to them. The spacing between the keys is a little tight, and will take some getting used to, but I didn’t make too many extra mistakes than usual. Obviously, with any new keyboard there is a slight learning curve as the size of the keys are always different.
To test the real performance of it I decided to give it a real life usage test by writing virtually this entire review with it. I originally set it up with my tablet, but ran into minor problems. When I would press a letter it would add it multiple times. My tablet is a Chinese brand and really old, so I decided to test the keyboard with a more reputable device. I then set it up with my phone and didn’t have any lag or issues, same with other devices I tried it with. It seemed to be a problem with my tablet rather than the keyboard.
Also, none of my devices had any trouble connecting to it, not even my old tablet. It really doesn’t get much simpler to connect to, just turn it on, press connect, and select the keyboard in the Bluetooth menu on your device. There is no password or anything, it just works right away. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth keyboards, it can only connect to one device at a time. It’s annoying if you are switching devices all the time, but the quick connection speed makes switching easy.
It will work with basically any Bluetooth capable device whether it’s a PC, Mac, Android, iOS, whatever. It uses Bluetooth 3.0, but does say in the manual it may not work with a Mac Mini for some reason. Speaking of Apple computers, one of the main problems with buying a new keyboard for them is you need a “command” key. I haven’t tried literally every single keyboard out there, but the ones I have tried almost never have a command key. Only Mac specific ones do. However, I was happy to see that this keyboard has a command key and it works perfectly. I wasn’t expecting that, but was very surprised and happy when I saw it.
Another thing I really like is the extra functional keys at the top. It has volume keys, music keys like play/pause, a search key, and more. I pressed the play key when connected to my phone and it instantly started playing music. I would imagine the media keys would be quite handy when using this keyboard with a media centre device or entertainment system.
The search key was also an unexpected treat. You can hit it anywhere to bring up the search box. For example, on Android, in Chrome you can press it to automatically select the URL area to input a new website. This is very handy as otherwise you’d have to physically click the search box with your finger and then go back to typing with the keyboard. It has other functional keys like copy and paste too.
Using a keyboard with a phone or tablet also brings keyboard commands. Again, using chrome, you can use “control + N” to open a new tab or “control + W” to close it. These added keyboard commands become very convenient when trying to do simple things. The manual also shows there are different keyboard commands for different operating systems. Just switch to the right configuration after setting it up with a device by pressing “FN” and either Q, W, or E depending on which operating system you are using it with. Once the correct one is selected, all the function keys at the top will be set correctly to be used with that operating system. However, I didn’t have any problems using them when connected to my Android devices or my Mac. Everything worked fine straight out of the package.
A quick side note for Mac users. When you connect the keyboard using Bluetooth, a new connect device window will open asking you to press certain keys in order to set the keyboard up correctly. I attempted to follow the tutorial, but ended up just closing the setup window and everything still worked fine.
The problem with wireless anything is you need to charge the battery. This is obviously not ideal, but that is the price you pay for wireless freedom. All you can do is hope the battery life lasts a long time between charges. Luckily, this keyboard’s battery gives you more than enough time between charges, about 200 hours, and the standby time is very long, about 120 days. It also has an automatic standby mode that turns on after 15 minutes of lack of use. Pressing any key for more than 3 seconds will boot it back up. However, these numbers are for when the lights are off. If you have them on all the time the battery life will dramatically decrease to only 3 hours of use. An insane drop, but obviously the backlit keys are going to use a lot more power. You don’t really need them on most of the time, so this shouldn’t be too big of an issue, but something to watch out for, nevertheless.
Charging time isn’t too bad either. It takes roughly 3-4hrs to charge fully, and charges with a standard micro USB cable (included). I have other keyboards that use batteries, and while it is nice to just take them out and put new ones in, I find USB charging better. It will depend on the exact situation, but if your USB charging keyboard dies you can plug it in and keep working. On a regular battery keyboard, you better hope you have extra batteries on you at all times, or you’re screwed. This has happened to me a few times and it really sucks just sitting there waiting for your old batteries to charge again, so you can put them in and continue working.
I can’t really give a real life number as to how long it will last on a single charge, or an exact amount of time it can be used for because I haven’t owned it that long. The numbers I listed earlier are purely based on what iClever says. What I can say is I charged it on day one, about a week ago, and it hasn’t died yet. To be fair, I don’t use it everyday, but I don’t see it dying too quickly with the keyboard lights off under normal use.
Very happy with it. Its tiny size, nice looks, and functional performance makes this a killer Bluetooth keyboard. Of course, I can’t forget the extremely cool color changing backlights. The whole time you’re using it, you almost want it to get dark just so you can turn them on. Changing the lights is also fun to do when procrastinating, don’t judge me, I know you do it too.
I don’t really have any major negatives to say about it. The only thing that would of made it absolutely perfect would of been a small trackpad built-in. However, that would of added considerably more size and weight to it, and taken away from the whole point of being super portable. Other than that, it has been a pretty good keyboard for what I needed, and the price is right too. At this exact moment in time that I am writing this review it is only $20, but ranges between $20-40, usually. In my opinion, the coolness of the lights is worth the price alone.