The ideal portable keyboard – responsive, tough, and the size of four chocolate bars

I’m writing this column on my phone – not because my laptop has had a tragic accident, but as a trial run before heading to Germany next week, then to Poland for the wedding of two wonderful friends.

My usual novel-writing implement – a Lenovo Ideapad 100S I snapped up last Black Friday – isn’t exactly weighty or cumbersome. All the same, it seems like overkill to cart it call around Berlin and Szczecin in the hope that I might find a spare five minutes to hammer out a few words at some point.

I'm not sure I'd want to leave it in the Airbnb. Someone might break in, steal it, read what I've written and die laughing. I don't want that on my conscience.

Other airlines are available. Other airlines are also more expensive

Other airlines are available. Other airlines are also more expensive

The laptop would also take up a fair whack of my meagre baggage allowance, which will mostly be occupied by shoes, dresses and those silly little fascinator things that look like an amorous bird of paradise has perched on your head.

I could just put the novel on hold for a week, but i’m worried I might run out of steam and come back home to realise I’ve left my vodka-sodden muse passed out under a table. I'm now 25,496 words in and don't want to lose the flow.

The phone it is, then.

Fold and go

Trying to Swype my way through a few thousand words on a touchscreen would be madness (even by my standards), so I’ve done some research and invested in a little folding Bluetooth keyboard.

The smallest models all have a hinge right down the centre, which fractures the standard QWERTY layout and would probably drive me mad. Instead, I opted for a slightly larger Battop model that folds lengthways and is (I realized while shopping for some last minute holiday essentials) exactly the same size as four KitKat Chunky bars taped together.

If that's not a standard unit of volume, it should be.

The Ideapad is roughly three times the size of the Battop keyboard (or 12 KitKat Chunky bars)

The Ideapad is roughly three times the size of the Battop keyboard (or 12 KitKat Chunky bars)

The Battop definitely feels cramped, but not prohibitively so, and there’s a surprising amount of travel on the keys. To my amazement, they actually spring back with more satisfying force than those on the Ideapad. Unlike our review, which claims typing on the notebook to be “pleasant and accurate”, I think it’s a bit mushy.

The folding keyboard has a little stand for your phone, making it feel much like a fun-size laptop, but the absence of a trackpad or other pointing device takes a little getting used to. At first I found myself waving my right hand uselessly over the desk and almost knocking over my tea before I remembered that there are these things called ‘touch screens’ you can use to navigate on a phone.

Whether I’ll actually manage to get any writing done is another matter (I’ve decided not to refer to it as ‘work’) but I’ve had a go at tucking the keyboard into the stupidly tiny handbag that’s standard issue for women at formal occasions, and it fits perfectly.

Or I could take a load of chocolate. Tough call.

  • Cat Ellis has turned to technology to help write her first novel. Follow her progress in her Sculpt Fiction column. 
Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)