This was originally going to be a markedly more negative practical review. I spent weeks trying to get Keymander 2 Mobile to work reliably, or at all, and it just refused to do it. However, after a recent firmware update, at least part of your problem has been fixed. Now it’s a finicky and expensive option, but potentially useful for mobile gamers and/or anyone who has to edit a lot of text on a mobile device.
Keymander 2 Mobile by Kaliber Gaming is a USB hub/dock that allows you to connect a wired PS4 or Xbox keyboard, mouse, and gamepad to your smartphone or tablet to play action games with greater precision and speed.
The upside is that the K2M works more or less as advertised. In my experience with the dock so far, it’s essentially a cheat code that has allowed me to absolutely bypass the lower ranges of mobile call of duty. Usually I’m wounded in any multiplayer shooter, but now I can’t help but be the MVP of any match I’m in.
cod mobile is course to detect that I have an external controller and just compare myself to other people with similar hardware, but that doesn’t work or isn’t common enough to have any real impact. I’m sure this can and will change once I move up the ranked ladder, but for now, K2M seems to have given me a distinctly unfair advantage.
The downside is that the K2M feels very first-gen. It’s prone to sudden disconnection without cause or warning, runs outside of game-specific control profiles that you need to download from the Kaliber website, and isn’t user-friendly at all.
This is a substantial improvement over how it used to be. In December, it took me almost an hour on the phone with Kaliber Gaming tech support to get K2M up and running. sometimes. It was great when it decided to let me play for a few minutes without hindrance, but the rest of the time, the K2M felt like the mobile peripheral equivalent of fighting an alligator.
Now though, playing on my 2021 edition iPad Pro, the K2M is only slightly irritating.
The K2M is a small plastic base with a removable kickstand that’s more durable than it looks and a non-slip strip on the top edge. It can comfortably hold a smartphone and not so comfortably hold anything 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, setup is reasonably easy. Connect all three devices to the dock, then download the official K2M companion app to your device. Grab one of its built-in control profiles for the game you want to play, then use Bluetooth with the companion app to link everything together. It’s complicated, with lots of wires going everywhere, but it’s pretty straightforward.
When this works, it feels like a magic trick. The controls are automatically mapped to what you might expect if you’re coming from a console or PC game, and you can simply jump into the game of your choice without a problem.
This requires a bit of setup and some time with the manual. The K2M has a lot of keyboard shortcuts, many of which are almost mandatory, so you don’t want to throw away the instructions. The mouse in particular seems to be hardwired to always start at very low sensitivity settings, so you’ll need to manually correct this if you intend to use the device.
You can use one of those keyboard shortcuts to switch the K2M to office mode, which allows you to use your mouse and keyboard to write and edit on your tablet. It has been very helpful over the course of writing this article, though it does have some weird quirks of its own.
When you switch the K2M between its gaming and office modes, it effectively changes the way your mobile device is connected to the dock, and it’s harder than it should be to switch back and forth. Effectively, Office Mode works like any other Bluetooth peripheral, while Game Mode needs the companion app to work properly, and the two will never meet.
Prices and availability
The KeyMander 2 mobile can be found on Amazon or on the IOGEAR website for an MSRP of $100. It is available to buy now.
Not for everyone
While the K2M works better now than when I first got it, it hasn’t been without its headaches. Connections have a habit of abruptly dying for no real cause, I occasionally had to power off and on all the equipment to get it back up and running, it’s the only device in my entire apartment that is picky about the age and voltage of the power strip to the one you plugged in, and everything has an overall duct tape and packing wire feel that’s hard to like.
The Keymander 2 Mobile is an odd piece of equipment with genuine utility, but it’s messy and, at times, unstable. If you’re a heavy mobile user who could use a head start on action games, especially if you’re a streamer, it’s worth checking out, but don’t be surprised if it takes some time, effort and yelling to get up and running. the K2M.