Matias USB 2.0 Keyboard and Smartphone Stand
At first blush, the Matias USB Keyboard + Smartphone Stand looks like nothing more than a keyboard with a space on it for your smartphone to rest. After further analysis, this is pretty much the truth. That’s not to say the smartphone rest doesn’t have its uses, or that the USB hub in the Keyboard + Smartphone Stand aren’t useful as well, but if you’re looking for a groundbreaking keyboard that you just have to own for your desk at the office or pack before you head back to school this fall, this isn’t it.
The Keyboard + Smartphone Stand is your basic, run of the mill wired USB 2.0 keyboard, from a design and build perspective. There’s nothing special about the layout of the keys, the feel of them under your fingers, or the way the keyboard rests on your desk. The keyboard doesn’t have function keys, and its only stand-out features are the built-in USB 2.0 hub and the smartphone rest that’s located over the arrow keys (where the Print Screen, Insert, Home, End, Page Up/Down and other keys in that block have been removed to make room.)
Matias hasn’t designed it entirely without features worth considering however. The smartphone stand is designed to fit an iPod Touch, iPhone, or other smartphone perfectly, and assuming your charging port or USB port is out of the way, you can even plug it into your computer while it’s resting on the keyboard (this isn’t true with the iPhone or any other device where the port is closer to the bottom than the top, however.)
Matias claims that the smartphone stand is designed to put your smartphone or iPod Touch at your fingertips, so if you use it in conjunction with your Mac or PC, you don’t have to reach too far to make use of it. For example, if you use an app like TouchPad to turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a trackpad for your Mac, or a remote control app like Remote or Airfoil to control your music library on your Mac or PC, you can rest your device on the smartphone stand and control the music or your mouse without leaving the keyboard.
We can see the benefit for people who hate using a mouse or have every keyboard shortcut for their OS memorized, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a gimmick more than anything else. Matias is responding later this year with an updated and upgraded keyboard with Bluetooth, and will pair with any Bluetooth device, like a phone. This means you’ll be able to pair your Matias keyboard with your PC, Mac, or with your phone, and use it as a keyboard for any device.
The current version of the USB Keyboard + Smartphone Stand has 3 powered USB 2.0 ports, one on the top of the keyboard in the center above the F11 key, and two more at the top of the keyboard where you can connect a mouse, USB flash drive, or other external device. Since the USB ports are powered, you can use it to charge a device like an iPod or smartphone. Using the USB Keyboard + Smartphone Stand is nothing remarkable, it feels like a standard keyboard that would come with a new PC.
If you’re looking for a keyboard on a budget and you don’t particularly care about function keys, tons of features, and you’re okay with a wired USB keyboard, the Matias USB 2.0 Keyboard + Smartphone Stand may be up your alley at $49.95. Even so, there are other wired and wireless options for the same price and it’s hard to justify it unless the USB hub and the smartphone rest really excite you. The new Bluetooth version of the device is expected later this year for $69.95.
Build Quality: 4/5