The Nuu MiniKey case that adds a physical sliding QWERTY Bluetooth keypad – and some bulk – to an iPhone 4 that first reared its head in prototype form at IFA last year is now available in the U.S. The device is aimed at users who prefer some tactile feedback with their typing and now features keys that are flush against each other instead of the chiclet style seen on the prototype. The keys are now also backlit and the backspace key has also been moved to the more traditional upper right corner instead of directly above the enter key.

While the physical slide out keypad allows users to effectively double their iPhone screen's viewable area by doing away with the need for onscreen typing, such convenience comes at the price of a noticeably bulkier unit in your pocket with the MiniKey case effectively doubling the thickness of the phone. However, if you've got the space in your pocket, the MiniKey will provide easy access to symbols and editing shortcuts through its Command, Shift and Function keys. A toggle switch also lets users easily switch between the MiniKey and onscreen keyboard modes.

Importantly, no functions or connectors on the iPhone are blocked by the MiniKey case including the phone's camera and flash, and it also apparently plays friendly with the iPhone 4's antenna to prevent any degradation of the phone's data signal and reception.

The case charges via micro-USB and will go into standby and sever the Bluetooth connection to conserve battery life after around 10 minutes of inactivity. The case will also go to sleep when the iPhone does.

The Nuu MiniKey is available in the U.S. through the Noetic website for US$79.99, while residents in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and the U.K. can track it down through resellers listed on the site.

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