This was originally intended to be a significantly more negative hands-on review. I spent weeks trying to get the Keymander 2 Mobile to work reliably, if at all, and it just refused to do so. However, after a recent firmware update, it solved at least part of his problem. This is now a tricky and expensive option, but potentially useful for mobile gamers and/or anyone who has to do a lot of text editing on a mobile device.
Kaliber Gaming’s Keymander 2 Mobile is a USB hub/dock that allows you to connect a keyboard, mouse and wired PS4 or Xbox gamepad to your smartphone or tablet to play action games with additional accuracy and speed.
The upside is that the K2M works more or less as advertised. In my experience with the dock so far, this is basically a cheat code that allowed me to absolutely miss the lowest ranks of Call of duty mobile. I usually walk injured at best in any multiplayer shooter, but now I can’t not be the MVP of any match I’m in.
CODE Mobile East Assumed to detect that I have an external controller and only compare myself to other people with similar hardware, but it either doesn’t work or isn’t common enough to have any real impact. I’m sure that can and will change once I get higher up the ranking ladder, but so far K2M seems to have given me a distinct and slightly unfair advantage.
The downside is that the K2M feels very first-gen. It’s prone to sudden disconnection without cause or warning, it runs off of game-specific control profiles you have to download from the Kaliber website, and it’s not user-friendly at all.
This is a substantial improvement over what it was before. In December, it took me the better part of an hour on the phone with Kaliber Gaming tech support to get the K2M up and running. sometimes. It was great when it decided to let me play for a few minutes unhindered, but the rest of the time the K2M felt like the mobile device equivalent of battling an alligator.
Now, however, playing on my iPad Pro 2021 Edition, the K2M is only mildly irritating.
The K2M is a small plastic dock with a removable stand that’s more durable than it looks and a non-slip strip along its top edge. It can comfortably hold a smartphone and less comfortably up to a large tablet. The dock is USB powered, though it doesn’t come with a plug, and has three USB ports for a keyboard, mouse, and PS4 or Xbox controller.
On paper, the setup is relatively simple. Connect all three pieces of equipment to the docking station, then download the official K2M companion app to your device. Grab one of its built-in control profiles for the game you intend to play, then use Bluetooth with the companion app to tie it all together. It’s messy, with lots of wires going everywhere, but it’s pretty simple.
When it works, it looks like a magic trick. Commands are automatically mapped to what you might expect if you’re coming from a console or PC game, and you can just jump into any game you want with no problem.
It requires a bit of setup and some time with the manual. The K2M has a parcel keyboard shortcuts, many of which are almost mandatory, so you won’t want to throw away the instructions. The mouse in particular seems hard-wired to always start at very low sensitivity settings, so you’ll have to fix that manually if you intend to use the device.
You can use one of these hotkeys to switch the K2M to office mode, which allows you to use the mouse and keyboard to write and edit on your tablet. It came in very handy during the writing of this article, although it has its own quirks.
When you switch the K2M between its Game and Office modes, it effectively changes the way your mobile device is docked, and switching back and forth is harder than necessary. Indeed, Office mode works like any other Bluetooth device, while Game mode needs the companion app to work properly, and the two will never meet.
The KeyMander 2 mobile can be found on Amazon or the IOGEAR website for an MSRP of $100. It is available for purchase now.
Although the K2M works better now than when I first got it, it hasn’t been without its headaches. Connections have a habit of suddenly dying with no real cause, sometimes I had to reboot the whole rig in order to get it working again, it’s the only gadget in my whole flat that’s picky about the age and voltage of the power strip it was plugged into, and the whole thing has an overall duct tape and baling wire feel that’s hard to like.
The Keymander 2 Mobile is a weird piece of equipment with genuine utility, but it’s messy and unstable at times. If you’re a heavy mobile user who could use a head start in action games, especially if you’re a streamer, this is worth a look, but don’t be surprised if it takes you some time, efforts and screaming for the K2M to be operational.