Hands On: Jorno Tri-Fold Mobile Bluetooth Keyboard

Recently, Tom's Hardware was provided with a sample unit of the Jorno mobile keyboard. This peripheral has two major selling points that make it super attractive: extreme portability and the ability to fold. That's right: this device has two hinges so that it can be folded and shoved into a pocket or purse. The Jorno keyboard is available now to purchase.

Jorno started out as a Kickstarter project, which was launched back in September 2012. The project, headed by Scott Starrett, reeled in 1,177 backers pledging $104,609, surpassing its original goal. However, backers didn't get their keyboards until March of this year due to engineering issues and changes to the design. The keyboard wasn't even released for consumer consumption until earlier this month.

"The biggest challenge was creating a durable folding mechanism in a small footprint," Starrett told Tom's Hardware. "We all wish we could have shipped this sooner, but everyone is glad we took time to get it right."

As previously mentioned, the keyboard features two hinges that provide a tri-fold form factor. Unfolded, the device measures just 9.91 inches wide, 3.53 inches deep and 0.26 inches thick. When folded, the keyboard measures 5.77 inches wide, 3.53 inches deep and 0.67 inches thick. A protective case that's provided with the keyboard makes this duo a hair shy of 1-inch thick when folded together.

The foldable peripheral provides a full QWERTY keyboard with the left hinge mounted under the "3," "E," "D," "X" and "Windows" keys and the right hinge under the "0," "[," ":," "?" and "Alt" keys. All keys are 9 percent smaller than those provided on regular keyboards and are spaced far enough apart so that the user's fingers don't feel cramped.

The Jorno has everything you need in reference to media keys such as forward, backward, volume up and so on. There's also a battery status LED and a Bluetooth LED mounted above the "6" and "7" buttons. When open, the hinges push out slightly underneath the keyboard to help keep the peripheral sturdy when it's placed on a flat surface.

The Jorno keyboard connects to a Windows, Android or Apple iOS device via Bluetooth. To pair the keyboard to one of these devices, users merely press the "Fn" and "C" keys simultaneously. This turns on the pairing process, and the peripheral shows up on the user's device as "Jorno Keyboard." Users must also tell Jorno what it's paired to by hitting the "Fn" key and "Q" (Android), "W" (Windows) or "E" (iOS) simultaneously. This device uses Bluetooth 3.0 and is both backward and forward compatible.

Starrett explained why he chose to use Bluetooth 3.0 over the more recent Bluetooth 4.0. "BT 4.0 doesn't really noticeably improve performance of keyboards since the data throughput is not a limiting factor," he said. "And we already get fantastic battery performance with the existing chipset, which is always forward and backward compatible."

The keyboard automatically turns on when it's unfolded and will turn off when folded. The device will also go into sleep mode after 2 minutes of inactivity. To wake the keyboard back up, simply press a button, and the device will become active after two seconds. The keyboard includes a rechargeable lithium ion battery that promises 85 hours of uptime and 220 days of standby time.

So why did Starrett develop the Jorno folding keyboard? "There are many users that need a way to input a lot of text into their phones/tablets, and a folding keyboard offers much more mobility/portability than a full-size keyboard," he said. "I've traveled a lot for work over the years and always wanted a product like Jorno, but found that none of the existing Bluetooth keyboards met my needs."

Was Jorno worth the wait? Yes, definitely. I immediately knew this would be a quality product when I opened the packaging and saw the keyboard tucked away in the protective case. This case is made of what appears to be imitation leather, metal clamps, magnets and presumably heavy-duty cardboard. What's really cool is that this case turns into a smartphone or tablet stand with just a few folds. A magnet keeps the case closed so the folded keyboard stays protected.

As for the keyboard itself, it's made out of plastic and aluminum. The Jorno is extremely light and sports black keys on a black frame. The microUSB charging port resides on the top-right of the middle portion, and that's it in regards to openings and additional buttons.

Personally, I like the quality of this product. If you're not used to a keyboard of this size, the typing space may take some getting used to (I typically use a mechanical keyboard). And while Jorno's tri-fold form factor makes it stand out in the mobile keyboard market, it's not the only folding solution on the market; options from Microsoft (more info here) and Matias come to mind.

Regardless of the competition, this keyboard is a must-have if you do a lot of work on a tablet or smartphone. Customers can purchase the keyboard now for a limited introductory price of $79 if they use the "JORNO" discount code when checking out.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

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  • vertigo_2000
    I have a problem with the name. Tri-Fold? There are only 2 folds. 3 keyboard sections, but only 2 actual folds.
    -3
  • drapacioli
    A quick search on amazon reveals a similarly designed keyboard for 1/3 the price that was released first. How is this product the one that's newsworthy? Just because it was a kickstarter?
    0
  • CRod
    Quote:
    I have a problem with the name. Tri-Fold? There are only 2 folds. 3 keyboard sections, but only 2 actual folds.


    it doesn't represent the fold it represents the sections it creates with the fold(s). similar to a bi-fold. (bisecting fold) trisect fold or tri-fold
    1