There are a lot of external keyboards for the Apple iPad… so many they can start to blur together. The inNuevo DOCKr is one that stands out from the crowd by sporting numerous features its rivals don’t.
It includes a full-size desktop keyboard (not a laptop one). This accessory can also serve as a powerful external battery for your tablet, nearly doubling its battery life. And it even has a pair of stereo speakers.
Build & Design
The DOCKr is a big clamshell with room inside for a desktop-size keyboard, the iPad, and the device’s own internal hardware.
Unlike a lot of its competitors, this is an accessory that emphasizes features over svelteness. You don’t get a full-size keyboard and all those extras in a tiny package, and the DOCRr is roughly the same bulk as a laptop. Fortunately, it essentially turns the iPad into a laptop, so there’s some justification for this.
The outer case is made of semi-opaque polycarbonate plastic, and comes in a variety of colors: black, white, red, green, and blue.
It’s relatively rugged. You could accidentally sit on it and it would probably survive, but a fall down the stairs would likely be the end of it. Cut-outs make it only marginally protective from rain.
Curved edges on the long side means it’s comfortable to hold when being carried around. But it’s not small: a little over 12-inches wide, 8-inches tall, and 1.7-inches thick. The whole package: DOCKr, keyboard, and iPad, is 3.75 pounds.
For travel, clips hold the tablet solidly in place. When you are working, you have your choice of portrait or landscape modes, and the DOCKr will hold your tablet up at almost any angle — something not offered by most of its rivals.
The inNuevo Wireless Keyboard sits solidly in the lower half of the clamshell. It connects to the iPad over Bluetooth.
As mentioned previously, this is a full-size desktop keyboard with function keys (but no dedicated numberpad). If you have trouble with the reduced-size keyboards on laptops, or would just prefer something with big keys and plenty of key separation, this could be for you.
inNuevo’s keyboard is decent — it feels OK and there’s good key travel, but it’s one of the noisiest keyboards I’ve ever used… very clickity-clackety when I’m typing.
If you want something more solid (and quiet), Apple’s own Bluetooth keyboard fits just fine in the DOCKr, and inNuevo will sell you a case without its own keyboard.
An external battery is an essential for tablet users who spend a lot of time away from electrical sockets — like on transcontinental flights. You can plug your iPad into the DOCKr when you’re using it, or when you’re not, and recharge your device.
The process for plugging the tablet into the battery is somewhat awkward, though. You take a short cable (included) and run it from a USB plug on one side of the DOCKr to the power/data port on your iPad. The cable kinks a bit getting around the frame, and the whole arrangement looks poorly configured.
In my tests, I was able to get 6 – 8 extra hours from this battery, depending on what I was using the tablet for. It was a nice feeling to get off a long plane flight and have my iPad still at 100%.
And remember, the battery for the DOCKr and the battery for the keyboard are separate. You can drain the DOCKr to the lees and it won’t affect your ability to use the keyboard at all.
Don’t like the mono speaker on your iPad? Make a Bluetooth connection to the DOCKr and you’ll have a pair of stereo speakers.
This is a nice extra for people who like to listen to music while the work, or want to watch a movie on their tablet in a hotel room.
It’s clear these speakers aren’t made by Bose, but they are definitely better than the one built into Apple’s tablet.
The inNuevo DOCKr essentially comes down to a tradeoff. It has a lot to offer, but all those capabilities come in a big package.
If you’d like to be able to add a full-size keyboard, Bluetooth speakers, and a hefty external battery to your iPad, and are will to put up with the extra bulk, then this is the accessory for you. If you’re looking for just a slim keyboard add-on, look elsewhere.
You have a number of purchasing options. You can get just the DOCKr case without the battery, speakers, or keyboard for $56. Add in the keyboard and you pay $96. Leave out the keyboard but build in the battery and speakers and price goes to $115.
The whole package — fully-loaded DOCKr and inNuevo Wireless Keyboard — is $150.