Kanex launches $70 Multi-Sync Keyboard for easy device switching (hands-on)

Kanex launches $70 MultiSunc Keyboard for easy device switching handson

Kanex make cables, right? It does, but the company is now branching out into the world of accessories, typified by the meDrive we played with earlier in the year. Now here comes the Multi-Sync, a keyboard that's designed to control one USB and three Bluetooth devices -- switching between them at the touch of a button. If you're like us and always have a desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone in near-simultaneous use, then perhaps you'd like to learn if this one is worth $70 out of next month's wages?

Kanex's home territory is making for gear for OS X and iOS devices, so don't be surprised to see a similar bias here. Compared to an Apple wireless keyboard, the Fn button has been replaced with an iDevice Home button, while an iOS search key sits below the right-sided shift. The company has also been required to shift around placement of the function keys to accommodate the multi-sync feature, with F1-3 being the toggles for the three Bluetooth devices, while F4 switches to the USB connection. 'Round back you've got a microUSB port and a bundled lead, and the keyboard is either bus-powered or with a pair AAA batteries that'll sit in a slot underneath. In addition to a cable and a fresh pair of batteries, the company has also included a stand that'll prop your smartphone or tablet at 75-, 69- or 63-degree angles, making it good for an impromptu work session, like drafting out this very piece.

Kanex launches $70 MultiSunc Keyboard for easy device switching handson

Pairing is as simple as selecting one of the three Bluetooth channels, pushing a sync button on the underside of the keyboard and finishing off the setup process on your device. In our case, we had the Multi-Sync hooked up to our desktop and paired to our laptop, tablet and smartphone, and in practice, we were able to switch between them almost instantly.

Now, having spent a few days with this piece of hardware, the first thing we should tell you about is the slight learning curve required to get the hang of the tweaked button placement. The elongated return and shift keys were also a struggle to get right first time out, so be prepared to be persistent. If there is an issue, it's that the unit sacrifices a caps lock light in place of the LEDs to let you know which Bluetooth device you're connected to. That means that the only way to see if you're typing in all-caps is by, you know, typing. While it's only a minor gripe, it's hardly an elegant solution to a problem that could have been easily solved and may turn off casual customers. Then there's the slightly springy keys, which, if you're used to the responsive keys on Apple's regular-issue Bluetooth keyboard, will feel spongy and sticky by comparison.

To sum up this fleeting consideration, the Multi-Sync is beautifully put together and the multi-switching feature does put it above other Bluetooth keyboards in the same price bracket. At first blush, however, we're not sure if people will be sold on the slightly nuanced typing experience that it provides, but we'll persist and let you know what it's like over a longer period of time. The Multi-Sync is available on the Kanex website, setting you back, if you've forgotten already, the rather slender sum of $70.