Full keyboard fits in your pocket: Hands on with Lapworks Amigo

This portable keyboard is a clone of the Stowaway keyboard from yesteryear and works with iOS, Android, and Windows.

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Lapworks Amigo keyboard ready for the pocket (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)
In the history of portable keyboards there is one from years ago that stood heads and shoulders above the rest. The Stowaway keyboard when closed could fit in a shirt pocket and opened into a full-sized keyboard.

The accordion mechanism consisted of four sections that opened flat and pushed together to form the keyboard. It featured full keys, not the chiclet style that hadn't appeared on the scene yet. For touch typists it was a no compromise solution to use with handheld devices.

See related: 10 portable keyboards for iPhone, iPad, and Android | Top 9 keyboards for the iPad Air hands on (Jan. 2015)

The Stowaway has been gone for years, but Lapworks has produced a clone. The Amigo 2.0 is a Bluetooth keyboard that looks, feels, and most importantly types just like the Stowaway of old.

The Amigo is universal as it works with Android, iOS, and Windows devices. It is a full QWERTY keyboard with a layout that mimics good PC keyboards. It is constructed of plastic and is light as a result.

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Amigo keyboard unfolding (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

Opening the Amigo and forming the keyboard takes just a few seconds. Once it's opened flat the sections are pushed in by red handles on either side of the keyboard to lock the keyboard for typing. This keyboard is as big on those on PCs, and that is why it is such a good option. See the image at the bottom of this article for a comparison of the Amigo with a keyboard for the iPad Air 2. The size difference is amazing.

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Amigo keyboard ready for typing (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The keys are so well designed that it is possible to type faster on the Amigo than any of the portable keyboards I have tested, and those number in the dozens. There is a slight flex in the middle of the keyboard when typing, but this doesn't affect typing speed nor accuracy. This keyboard rivals those on some ThinkPads it's so good.

All of the keys you expect to find on a keyboard are there, including the four arrow keys. These perform Page Up/Down and Home/End when pressed with the Fn key. The F1 - F12 on the number row are also accessed with the Fn key. There is even a Windows key where you expect it.

The Amigo keyboard charges via the included microUSB cable, and the company claims 30 - 60 days on a charge. I haven't owned it long enough to verify that run time. Sadly, the unit does not automatically power off to save battery when you close it, so you must remember to use the power switch above the top row of keys.

To put the Amigo away, power it off using the switch and pull the red handles away from the keys. This separates the sections and unlocks them for folding them together. The unit snaps together in its smallest form for transport.

I have used the Amigo with the iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and the Kindle Fire HDX. It works as expected with all of them.

Lapworks includes two stands with the Amigo. One is a simple tablet stand which works with tablets up to the size of an iPad. The other is a bizarre, flimsy stand for use with smartphones. Instead of using that stand, I have been using the Amigo with my iPhone 6 Plus in a case with an integrated kickstand.

Those who owned the Stowaway years ago will find using the Amigo to be a trip down memory lane. That's a good thing, as the Amigo works as well as the extinct Stowaway.

My only complaint with the Amigo is the price. I paid $140 for it (Amazon) and that is steep. Those of us who write for a living may find it worth the high price, but casual users may have a problem with it. Nostalgia is only worth so much.

The Lapworks Amigo keyboard used with a phone is the smallest writing system you will find. That's only when carrying it around, when it's time to get some work done the Amigo is the biggest keyboard of all the portable models.

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Amigo keyboard size comparison with iPad Air 2 keyboard (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

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