Travel tech tip: Bluetooth a no-go on flights

Planning on taking an overseas trip this year and packing the tablet? If you’ve got a wireless keyboard, it won’t work until you land.¬†We know you’re used to the accuracy and speed your physical Bluetooth keyboard offers, but you’ll get no such love during a flight.

Before take off, flight crews will generally ask you to switch on “Airplane” mode, a function that switches off any wireless signal your device can generate or latch onto.

In the case of the iPad or other tablet, this means your WiFi, 3G (if you have it), and Bluetooth connections will all be disabled through the course of the flight.

This means no Bluetooth headphones and no Bluetooth keyboards. It means no Bluetooth anything, actually.

While the headphone situation is pretty easy to get around – just plug in a pair of wired headphones or earbuds into the 3.5mm jack – the keyboard is a little more difficult to deal with, especially given that touchscreen keyboards aren’t often the best for quick typing.

To get around this, you can do one of two things:

1. Use the onscreen keyboard

A pain, we know. But at least it’ll work.

If you’ve got an iPad, you might want to consider purchasing TextExpander, an app aimed at letting you easily insert snippets of text you’re frequently using. Quite a few of the writing apps now support TextExpander too, so as you’re typing, it’s easy to throw commonly used scraps of text in without retyping them again and again.

Depending on the tablet you have, the touchscreen keyboard can be a little slower than a physical one.

2. Find a way to plug in a portable wired keyboard to a USB connection

Some tablets come with USB ports and others – like the iPad – can be added through camera connection kits.

As for the portable keyboard, there are quite a few of these, some are even made of rubber and roll up for easy storage.

Neither of these options are likely to be as strong a typing experience as the wireless keyboard you’ve come to know and love on your tablet, but until you reach land, they’re your best bets.

The full-size USB port on the Toshiba AT100 means you can plug in a USB keyboard.