The on-screen virtual keyboard for Apple’s iPad is fine for short emails, but many of those who write extensively on their tablet prefer to attach a physical keyboard. There are a wide range of external keyboards available for this computer, but the iHome Type Pro (IH-IP2104) has an unusual design that can be configured into laptop, tablet, drawing, and presentation modes.
This accessory fits the iPad 2, iPad 3, and iPad 4. It cannot be used with the iPad Air or iPad mini.
Build and Design
At first glance, the iHome Type Pro looks like a laptop with the screen taken out. That’s basically what it is, with the iPad taking the place of the display. Click the two together and you have a laptop equivalent.
Several years ago, Microsoft created a new class of computer called the Tablet PC. These are laptops that have screens that can be flipped around to cover the keyboard, transforming them into tablets. iHome’s offering mimics this design.
This gives it quite a bit of flexibility. The device can be used as a notebook with the screen held at virtually any angle, and as a tablet. The twist-and-flip hinge can also be configured into a tablet that’s held up at an angle for easy drawing, or rotated around 180 degrees so the display is held up like a TV screen.
Because this case wraps completely around the computer, it protects the screen and the back from bumps and scratches. There are cutouts in the casing where necessary — power button, volume rocker, charge/data port, headset jack, speaker, and microphone — so there’s little to no protection from liquids.
There is a downside to the Type Pro’s design: because the hinge is located along one edge of this accessory, it was necessary to include weights along the opposite edge so that the iPad doesn’t overbalance. This means it weighs in at 1 lb. 14 oz., more than the tablet itself. Because of this, many users will probably want to take their tablet out of the case if they aren’t going to need the keyboard for an extended time.
The keyboard in the Type Pro is quite good — as good as what you’ll find on a typical notebook PC. Although not the size of the ones in a desktop keyboard, the keys are a bit larger than the ones in most rival iPad keyboards. They offer decent, although not outstanding, travel. They could be a bit quieter, though.
This accessory from iHome includes a row of extra function keys for controlling the backlight, volume, music or video playback, and more. There’s also a very handy Home key.
There’s no trackpad because iOS doesn’t support this type of input.
The Type Pro communicates with the iPad over Bluetooth. All that’s necessary to do is pair the two devices once and typing can begin immediately.
There was a time when using a Bluetooth device on a plane was a violation of FAA rules, but not any more.
Bluetooth takes very little power, and the Type Pro is likely to go months on a single charge, even with frequent use. One of the reasons for this is it’s intelligent enough to shut itself off if the user forgets to.
It is often true of iPad accessories that the more they do they more they weigh, and this is certainly the situation here. The iHome Type Pro can protect this tablet, it includes a good keyboard, and its twist-and-flip hinge gives a great deal of flexibility in how the screen is arranged. On the other side of the coin, it more than doubles the weight of the iPad.
There are certainly lighter keyboards for Apple’s tablet, but these won’t have all the features of the Type Pro.