I promise this weird BlackBerry keyboard accessory is real

A Blackberry keyboard compatible with PCs and tablets
(Image credit: Solder Party)

Remember BlackBerry phones? They defined an era of mobile communications, but they rapidly began to lose out to the likes of Apple and Samsung as technology evolved and touchscreens became the norm. 

BlackBerry hasn't produced any phones for years, but many people still have a soft spot for its QWERTY keyboards with their tiny clicky buttons. And one company's banking on that nostalgia to the point that it's developed a bizarre accessory to allow you to use a BlackBerry keyboard with a PC, Mac or tablet (no, we won't be including it in our pick of the best keyboards).

A BlackBerry keyboard compatible with PCs and tablets

The BBQ20KBD uses a real BlackBerry Q20 thumb keyboard (Image credit: Solder Party)

My first thought was that this was an April Fools' joke when I saw the story published on Gizmodo over the weekend, but no. It's real. For $30, you can buy a device that offers a BlackBerry keyboard that you can use as an input for Windows, Mac, or Linux PCs or Android or iOS mobile devices.

Sweden-based Solder Party’s BBQ20KBD whacks a genuine BlackBerry Q20 keyboard onto a custom printed circuit board with a clear plastic case, adding on a USB-C port and I2C interface. The result is a USB HID keyboard and mouse that uses a Raspberry Pi microcontroller to translate key presses.

A BlackBerry keyboard compatible with PCs and tablets

Some handy tweaks provide access to missing keys (Image credit: Solder Party)

Now clearly, the BBQ20KBD is not a very practical keyboard solution for anyone working on a PC, although maybe there's a potential use case for combination with a tablet for those that don't already have a keyboard case. At least for anyone looking for a very compact and portable solution. Maybe. And the keyboard is backlit.

You don't get all the keys that you would on a full-size keyboard, but the manufacturer has added a few solutions to get around that. You can press the right-shift key plus Alt to turn on Caps lock, hit the microphone key for a tilde, and Alt + Enter will give you a vertical bar glyph. The little optical trackpad even acts like a mouse, and you can use it to replicate the function of arrow keys if you hold down 'Alt'.

The BBQ20KBD is available to buy online for $30 at Tindie. For more practical keyboard solutions, take a look at our pick of the best keyboards for Mac and the best iPad keyboards

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.