What Is the Best Apple iPad Keyboard?

by Reads (12,207)

So Santa brought you a new iPad, but to get full use out of your gadget, you’ll need a good keyboard. Part 1 focused on feature and usability issues, and two keyboards; here in Part 2 are six more, plus recommendations.

Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case
Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard CaseKensington’s KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case Bluetooth keyboard for iPad 2 (MSRP $99.99) is an elegant dull black, with surprisingly acceptable touch-typeable keys for their 10-inch width. The On/Off slide switch and Connect/Pair buttons are easy to use.

iOS buttons include HOME and SEARCH, plus there’s “SLIDE SHOW” and sound/media controls. Amusingly, there’s a “.com” key, which I’ve never seen elsewhere on a physical keyboard (it’s on some of the email virtual-keyboard screens).

The display angle of the iPad is 110 degrees, and not changeable. I find this slightly too upright. The iPad holder rotates 90 degrees, making it easy to shift the iPad between portrait and landscape orientations.

However,  closing the case doesn’t put the iPad into Sleep mode like the SmartCover, and the case doesn’t fold cleanly flat back-under for tablet mode (and you’ve got the keys facing down).

I give the Kensington Pro KeyFolio Pro a ‘low-to-maybe’ purchase rating. It might match your needs. It doesn’t match mine.

Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2
Logitech offers the largest-size travel keyboard, measuring ten and five-eighths inches. That’s a smidgeon less than the Apple wireless keyboard, and it’s wider than the iPad.

The keyboard manages this spatial miracle, like the name suggests, by folding for tablet-mode use and for travel. The name is arguably misleading; the keyboard doesn’t fold up, via a center hinge, like the old PDA-oriented Stowaway. Instead, the left and right halves pivot to the back, sliding under the tablet.

Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2

To open , or unfold, or deploy the keyboard halves, you push the release button in the back and lift up the back of the iPad. The back then slides up and locks, acting as a stand, while the keyboard halves swivel out to meet, forming a full keyboard.

If nothing else, the deployment — opening up the keyboard — is way cool to watch. It will amuse your colleagues. Whether it will impress them, or convince them you’re an incurable gadget-geek, or both, I can’t predict.

Unfortunately, the Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard is a tad bulky.

When the keyboard is folded up, you can simply use your iPad in tablet mode. Admittedly, keyboard-plus-iPad is bulkier than just-the-iPad.

But it’s not hard to release the iPad, and park the keyboard somewhere. The Apple SmartCover fits to cover the display while the iPad is in the keyboard, and you can flip the SmartCover over the back while using the keyboard. However, the SmartCover doesn’t fold back behind around fully for tablet mode; you have to either accept its slightly unpleasant side lump, or remove the SmartCover and part it somewhere.

The Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2 is a good choice if you’re looking for a great keyboard, and for a keyboard that provides case protection. You can either snap the iPad in display up, for use, or display-in, for carrying — and you can even dock it display-in with an Apple SmartCover on your iPad.

Logitech provides a long charging USB cable, which is a nice touch, and the power button is pleasantly large enough.

I found the combo convenient for popping open to grab a few sentences, as well as for sitting and prolonged typing. You may find it too bulky for some trips, or too complicated if you’re shifting to tablet mode a lot.

The Logitech Fold Up Keyboard is ‘recommended’, but it is not for everyone.

Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG for iPad
The Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 (MSRP $99.99) provides a keyboard/stand when in use, and, with the iPad placed display-in, acts as a protective case.

iOS function keys include HOME and SEARCH, plus sound/media controls and a few cut-and-paste shortcut keys.

Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG for iPadAlthough the keys portion of the keyboard is a mere nine and one quarter inches wide — the smallest reviewed here — the keyboard is eminently touch-typable.

The docking slot holds the iPad at 120 degrees. You can put the iPad in either portrait or landscape orientations (the weight distribution makes it slightly front-heavy so it won’t tilt back and fall over).

The keyboard can also serve as carry-cover for the display — simply plunk the iPad in display-down (putting the iPad into Sleep mode). Cushion pads at the corners keep the display and keys from mashing together. The keyboard lip edges have spaces where the iPad’s audio and docking ports would go, so you can do cable-related things, like charge it, while the iPad display is protected.

The only negative: The Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG won’t hold the iPad 2 snugly in place display-side up. So for when you want to use the iPad as a tablet, you need to establish a habit of where you’ll put the keyboard — ideally right back into your bag, briefcase, etc.

It’s possible the Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG might be the most useful of the lot. It’s light-weight, provides carry-protection for the display, supports and lets you effortlessly switch between landscape and portrait modes. And you can use it in your lap or on a narrow flat surface, making it a good choice for frequent fliers.

The Logitech case by ZAGG is ‘recommended’.

Read more keyboard reviews and find out which is the best on page 2.

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