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Smartphones and tablets are excellent for many things. However, they really aren't good for typing out large amounts of text. For some people, that's a big problem. Answering emails, posting on the internet and even doing homework can be a pain on mobile devices. Enter the Brookstone Virtual Keyboard. This compact device creates a keyboard interface on nearly any flat surface. This is a Christmas gift with some serious "whoa" power.

What this gets you is a larger and easier-to-use typing interface than you get on touchscreens and the keyboards that often work with mobile devices. It works by projecting the image of a keyboard onto a flat surface in front of the device. When you press a "key," part of the virtual keyboard senses your finger's location and tells your computer what letter or command to enter.

For desktop computers, a laser keyboard doesn't make much sense, as physical keyboards are more capable and significantly less expensive in most cases. However, for mobile devices, we found the Brookstone Virtual Keyboard offers a much better typing experience than plugging away on a touchscreen. The Brookstone Virtual Keyboard works with PC, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

In order to work with mobile devices, you need to pair the Virtual Keyboard with your smartphone via Bluetooth. Once they're paired, you can type away. But there's more to this Bluetooth virtual keyboard: You can use it as a giant trackpad. By pressing the Windows/Command and Alt keys, you enter mouse mode. This allows you to control a mouse pointer, even on mobile devices.

Because of the nature of laser keyboards, your typing experience may vary depending on what the lighting is like in your environment. We found that the Brookstone Virtual Keyboard works fairly well in a brightly lit office. However, typing quickly can confuse the device. One of the reasons we recommend using the Virtual Keyboard with a mobile device is that you can take advantage of autocorrect. With good autocorrect, you don't have to stop every time you mistype something.

With any Bluetooth laser keyboard, the projection needs to be bright enough that you can identify individual keys. We didn't have any trouble seeing the Brookstone Virtual Keyboard's projection in a bright office, but in direct sunlight (like the sun shining through a window onto your desk), it can be difficult to make out.

So, why should you pick a virtual keyboard over a keyboard that doubles as a cover for your mobile device? We can give you two reasons: Virtual keyboards give you a larger interface, and there's something distinctly futuristic about them that makes people "whoa." Particularly for people with larger hands, a virtual keyboard is a better option than a keyboard-cover combination that has tiny keys.

We were very impressed with the Brookstone Virtual Keyboard. It provides you with a typing experience that is superior to what you get on touchscreens. It's also undeniably fun. This device has a huge wow factor that adds to its appeal. It isn't perfect for everyone, but for those on your Christmas list who type often on mobile devices and are tired of small keyboards, it's a perfect gift.

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