The iPad is a fabulous portable computer, capable of almost anything you might like, from music and video to thousands of games and other apps. But what if you just need to do some writing, whether you’re working on your quarterly report or the next Great American Novel? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing several iPad keyboard cases, starting with the Kensington KeyFolio.
Build & Design
From the outside, the KeyFolio looks just like any portfolio that you might expect to find at a business meeting. It is black, with white stitching, and while it is not made of leather, it has a nice finish that looks good–you probably can’t tell it isn’t leather until you actually touch it. The spine is stiff and is just the right size to allow the case to close smoothly.
When you open the KeyFolio, you’ll find that the iPad fits into a yoke on one side and the keyboard is on the other. To insert your iPad, pull out the flap on the left side (if the keyboard is on your right) and slide in the iPad before folding the flap behind your tablet. It’s easy to do and the fit is very good, though I am disappointed at just how much the corners and the sides of the iPad are exposed. This would be an easy fix with a slight redesign of the yoke.
Once the Apple iPad is in place, just open the case and prop up the device using the integrated stand feature. You can choose from a variety of angles depending on your placement of the bottom edge of the device. It will rest just before the edge of the keyboard, or even on top of it, thanks to clever little horizontal indentations that “grab” the yoke and lock it in place, creating a sturdy and secure fit. The iPad will not wobble or move unless the entire surface is unstable. (I wouldn’t recommend trying to use this case on your lap, though it is possible to do so.)
The controls for the keyboard are in the top right corner. The power switch is on the side, as well as the charging port, and the very clearly labeled connect button is right next to the power switch. Some Bluetooth keyboards require a certain key sequence to activate the discovery process, so I really appreciate the simplicty here. Turn on Bluetooth in the iPad Settings app, hit the connect button, and after entering a four digit code on the keyboard, you’re ready to go.
The keyboard itself is made of a smooth rubberized material that feels really good. It also has the advantage of being spillproof and won’t scratch the screen of your iPad when the case is closed (though I would still use a screen protector for good measure). The keys are as large as possible, which means that the spacing between the keys is quite small. That wasn’t a concern or a problem for me at all, but then I spent several years typing on ultraportable Thinkpad/Lifebook computers before I got to try out this case.
As soon as I started typing on the KeyFolio keyboard, I felt right at home, without a single missed key. The only problem I had was with the very strange placement of the apostrophe, which is at the bottom of the keyboard, between the space bar and the arrow keys. That may not bother most folks, but I tend to use many contractions so it will take some training to get used to that particular key placement. I think it was a good compromise, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you first start out.
There are several iPad-specific keys at the top of the keyboard, above the number row, that are quite handy. You can do everything from bring up the onscreen virtual keyboard to pause, fast forward, and reverse your music, mute the device, and increase or decrease the music volume during playback. The button at the top right corner, just to the right of the delete key, is a home button, which is nice. Of course, you could just use the home button on the screen of your iPad, but that way you don’t have to take your hands off the keyboard.
Battery life is seemingly endless, which is a blessing if you’re counting on continuous performance at a long sales conference or business meeting. The KeyFolio comes with a USB to micro charging cable, but you won’t be using it all that often. Kensington promises 90 hours of use and up to 100 days of standby from the built in 430 mAh battery, and I don’t have any reason to doubt that claim. I haven’t used it quite that long, of course, but I haven’t had to recharge it once and I’ve been giving it quite a workout.
The Kensington KeyFolio is a quality product, well made of synthetic leather. The keyboard, while small, is easy to type on and is definitely better (and faster!) than tapping on the screen. Connection is simple, battery life is excellent, and the entire setup looks professional.
My only complaints are the strange placement of the apostrophe key, the lack of a tab or zipper closure, and the fact that the corners of the iPad aren’t very well protected. For that reason, this accessory seems best for homebodies or business types who are corridor warriors, not road warriors. In all other respects this is a great product, and worthy of your consideration.