Now You Can Use a Blackberry Keyboard With Your PC
There’s no denying that BlackBerry dropped the ball and squandered a tremendous lead in the smartphone space when the iPhone arrived. But there’s also no denying that before that, BlackBerry made solid phones, and all but perfected physical smartphone keyboards. If you were a BB devotee, and are still better at typing with your thumbs than all of your fingers, you can now get a BlackBerry keyboard for your PC (or even phone, if you want to bring things full circle).
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If you’re old enough to remember the pre-iPhone days, when smartphones weren’t just giant touchscreens, BlackBerry’s phones were everywhere, and could be found in the pockets of everyone from corporate execs to high school students whose parents were corporate execs. (If you don’t know why the BlackBerry was so important, or why the company’s story is so tragic, an upcoming movie might help shed some light on that.) Before an entire industry of accessories blossomed around the iPhone, there was an entire support industry dedicated to the BlackBerry, and years after the company’s last smartphone was released, there are lots of BlackBerry parts still sitting in warehouses.
Why not take advantage of those extra parts? The folks at Solder Party in Sweden managed to get their hands on a big stack of keyboards from the BlackBerry Q20—one of the sleekest handsets the company ever released. They then paired each board with a Raspberry Pi RP2040 to allow it to detect and translate key presses, and then put all the components in a custom injection molded clear plastic case to keep everything neat, tidy, and useable.
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The BB Q20 Keyboard With Trackpad is a great start if you’re planning to build yourself a handheld cyberdeck, and includes easy access to all of the pin connections you’ll need to interface with it. But Solder Party also gave the BB Q20 a standard USB-C port and native USB HID (human interface device) support, which means you can plug it into a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC, or even Apple and Android mobile devices, and use it as a standard QWERTY keyboard.
The BB Q20’s tiny touchpad will even work like a standard computer mouse, complete with left and right mouse button clicks, and sliding your finger across the pad while holding the ALT key will make it function like cursor keys.
You can grab the compact keyboard, fully assembled, from Solder Party’s Tindie store for $30.
Want more of Gizmodo’s consumer electronics picks? Check out our guides to the best phones, best laptops, best cameras, best televisions, best printers, and best tablets. And if you want to learn about the next big thing, see our guide to everything we know about the iPhone 15.