The Apple iPad’s on-screen keyboard is a handy way to make status updates or write short emails, but if you want to enter large amounts of text you should get an external keyboard.
One option for doing this is the Apple Wireless Keyboard, an acessory that connects to the tablet over Bluetooth.
BUILD & DESIGN
This wireless keyboard is virtually identical to the USB keyboard Apple ships with its desktop computers. It has the same full-size keys as the USB version, with the same separation and these have the same travel. Basically, if you’ve used one of Apple’s recent keyboards, you know what using this one is like.
It doesn’t have the extra number and function keys on an extended keyboard, but this is a bonus for those who want to travel with this accessory.
Generally speaking it’s very thin, except for a bulge all the way across the top. This is where the batteries are stored, and also holds the keys at a good angle to type on.
The Wireless Keyboard really hasn’t been designed specifically for use while on the go. There’s no protection for the keys if you stuff it down in a bag, and it’s not particularly small or light. It probably equals the weight and bulk of the iPad itself. Still, it can be used as a travel keyboard on occasion, but there are better options.
This accessory’s best use is probably around the house. Because it doesn’t have a built-in cradle and communicates with the iPad wirelessly, you can use it with your tablet in either portrait or landscape mode.
Keep in mind, though, if you’re going to use this device, you’re going to need something to hold up the tablet, as there’s nothing built into this keyboard for that purpose. My suggestion is Apple’s charging cradle. That’s what I use, anyway. Because these two are separate pieces, I can move them as close or as far apart as I like, making it easier for me to use the iPad. The Apple Smart Cover will also do the trick for the iPad 2.
What you want in a keyboard is something that you type on and don’t have to think about. The Apple Wireless Keyboard comes close to this ideal. There are a few small issues, though.
I use my iPad like most people would a laptop, for both work and personal tasks. As a result I enter vast amounts of text on it. I’ve had this accessory for a while, and have entered thousands of words on it.
I have found the size of the keys and the amount of travel to be just fine. The arrangement of keys is the standard one for a Mac keyboard, so there’s no irritation from looking for keys. As they are labeled in black on white, the keys are certainly easy to identify.
In order for the iPad and the keyboard to be able to communicate, you’re going to have to pair them. If you’ve ever used a Bluetooth accessory before you should be familiar with this processes. It’s easy: just pull out the manual, push a couple of buttons, enter a password, and you’re in.
After pairing, your keyboard and tablet will work together without wires… from a surprising distance apart. Actually, the distance they can stay connected can sometimes be irritating. If I’m working in my home office but take the iPad downstairs to the kitchen on a break, the two are still communicating. I have to manually disconnect them so I can have access to the on-screen keyboard again.
This means that when you are finished using this accessory you should turn it off. This involves pushing down a button on one side for several seconds. When you return, you need to turn the keyboard back on. There are times I really wish this device would automatically disconnect itself if I haven’t used it for a while, but as long as your iPad and your Wireless Keyboard are anywhere remotely near each other they maintain that connection.
The Apple Wireless Keyboard has alll the standard keys, plus some additional ones that come in handy. These allow you to increase/decrease the screen brightness, increase/decrease the volume of speakers, and even control the built-in music player on your iPad, starting and stopping the music tracks you have queued up.
A couple of these buttons, however, do nothing because this accessory was designed primarily to work with a computer running Mac OS X, not the iOS. It would have been nice if Apple had made one of these act like a Home button, but it did not.
As I said before, I’ve had the Apple Wireless Keyboard for a long time, and used it to type more thousands of words than I could possible count. I’m still on my very first set of AA batteries. I think that says all I need to about battery life.
The Apple Wireless keyboard is a good option for people looking for a keyboard to use in a home office with their iPad. It makes typing large amounts of text a breeze, and looks stylish at the same time, fitting in nicely with the design of this tablet.
At $69 it’s not the cheapest Bluetooth keyboard on the market, and it’s certainly not ideal for travel, but this is still an accessory that many iPad users should consider.