Despite the popularity of mobile gaming and the ongoing development of controllers, playing some games, especially shooters, is still best done using a keyboard and mouse. The KeyMander 2 Mobile is the ideal option if you want to give your favorite mobile and cloud games the precision of a keyboard and mouse, but it will cost you money.
SETUP The KeyMander 2 Mobile is without a doubt one of the quirkiest devices I’ve ever held in my hands. Connecting your preferred mouse and keyboard to your phone or tablet to play games may seem like a straightforward idea, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that. You will need the following in order to use the KeyMander 2 Mobile:
an iOS and Android 10 device another Android or iOS smartphone (optional but very helpful) a mouse and keyboard The Sony DualSense A USB power source or subsequent Xbox Series controllers are not supported by an approved Microsoft Xbox (1708) controller or Sony DualShock 4 KeyMander 2 Mobile. I’ll explain. Two USB ports for your keyboard and mouse are located on the back of the KeyMander 2. You must plug a compatible Bluetooth controller from an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 into the port on the right side. Simply described, the KeyMander acts as a controller hijacker, using the Bluetooth connection and the controller to relay your keyboard and mouse pushes as controller inputs.
The KeyMander 2 Mobile includes a USB cord around the back that you must connect to a power source. This effectively necessitates the use of a power converter or a battery, putting a hard cap on just how portable your mobile gaming setup can be.
Even worse, the device may require more power than is sometimes anticipated. As an illustration, I tried to use an RGB mechanical keyboard (which was included in the package that IOGear gave us) with the KeyMander 2 Mobile but discovered that it would overwhelm the device and shut down the entire system. There just doesn’t seem to be enough power available from one regular USB connector.
We tried their branded wall charger , which we purchased separately, on the advice of IOGears, and it was able to resolve this issue. We’re not entirely clear why that is the case, as the other chargers we tried ought to have been more than sufficient of providing the KeyMander with the advertised 5V 2.1A power. However, if you don’t use an RGB keyboard, you won’t have a problem.
However, it just gets stranger. The device and your phone or tablet actually need to be paired several times. Using a highly unique key combination on the keyboard, you’ll first put the KeyMander into configuration mode, allowing you to pair to the device’s internal workings via the K2 Mobile app. You can upgrade your firmware and change your settings here. To pair the KeyMander with your phone’s Bluetooth settings, where it displays as the controller you plugged in, you’ll then press a different key combination.
The true magic happens in the K2 Mobile app, where you can customize the functions of each keyboard key and mouse button on the controller as well as the sensitivity of your mouse movement. It is simple to set up for multiple games because, as you might assume, there are numerous profiles accessible. It’s convenient that these settings can also be accessed and changed on a different device. For instance, when playing on my tablet, I was able to change the layout of my keyboard from my phone.
The KeyMander 2 Mobile has been available for a while, but I still need to mention that it only recently began to support Android. Therefore, in order for the Android mode to function at all, you might need to perform a firmware update via the app. One of the most painful afternoons in recent memory was spent trying to get the device connected to the app, switched to firmware update mode, and fully updated.
It should go without saying that setting up this device wasn’t easy, but once that’s done, everything goes much more smoothly.
USAGE The first thing you need do after configuring KeyMander 2 Mobile on your preferred device is create a profile to correspond keyboard presses and mouse movements with the appropriate controller inputs. As not all games feature controls for keyboard, mouse, and controller that are exactly similar, you’ll need to make a little compromise at this step.
For instance, in Destiny 2, the Hunters dodge is a single keypress on a computer but a double touch on a gamepad. Similar to this, while you are still technically using a controller, games that allow you to switch weapons using the numerical keys won’t suddenly acquire that capability.
The KeyMander software does, however, allow you to fine-tune your sensitivity settings to change according to certain circumstances, such as moving more slowly when scoped in. The more you explore and grow accustomed to your own tools, the more you’ll discover the particular advantages and disadvantages—a compromise, as I said—of each.
The options available make it very evident that shooter game enthusiasts are the KeyMander 2 Mobile’s target market. As a result, I mostly tried it with Destiny 2 on Stadia, a game and a platform I was already very familiar with from my native use of the identical keyboard and mouse.
I’ll be the first to confess that I’m by no means a skilled gamer, but after customizing the KeyMander to my satisfaction, I discovered that I could engage in head-clicking motions just as easily as if I were using a mouse. Being connected via Bluetooth, input delay is a natural and inevitable component that will differ between devices.
The KeyMander 2 Mobile’s ability to instantly transform mouse movements into on-screen action still astounded me, though. While playing on a real gaming PC is undoubtedly faster, playing on a smartphone or tablet nowadays is as close as you can come to that experience.
The only significant difficulty I had was the learning curve and trial-and-error process of placing mouse and keyboard operations where they seemed most natural. The KeyMander practically disappears once you enter a flow state, which is as it should be.
The KeyMander is made to be barely noticeable on your desk up until that point. It supports your phone or tablet in an upright position at a convenient (but fixed) viewing angle. The tiny box on your desk with the four wires running out of it in different places can only be hidden so much, of course.
IS IT FOR WHOM? Who should purchase this device now that we’ve established that it accomplishes its intended function? Fans of (first-person) shooters are undoubtedly the target audience for the KeyMander 2, as other genres don’t stand to benefit as much from keyboard and mouse play.
This is a solution for the gamer who takes their shooters extremely seriously but most usually plays from a mobile device rather than a PC, with a retail price of $99 almost equaled by the cost of the needed controller and the modest annoyance of supplying power to the machine. Someone who wants to play a mobile-only shooter like Call of Duty Mobile but still enjoy the benefits of a full keyboard and mouse is an excellent example. Another example is someone who wants to preserve their standard PC controls while using their iPad or tablet as one of the greatest screens in the home for cloud gaming. I belong to the latter group.
There isn’t a single scenario in which this device makes any sense for the majority of people. The KeyMander 2 Mobile does the job fairly well, though a bit pricily, for those select few who see the great attraction of integrating PC controls to mobile games.