Every time Apple releases a new iPad, the accessory makers follow suit with new cases, folios and accessories. This go around however, the new iPad has roughly the same dimensions as the Apple iPad 2 (the new iPad is slightly thicker), so it’s tough to discern how many of the supposed third-generation iPad cases are simply iPad 2 cases with new marketing materials.
That said, if the case works, it works. And I’m sure there are many iPad 2 owners that upgraded to the third-generation iPad who are happy they don’t have to buy new cases for their new tablet.
So it is with that caveat that I examine the Kensington Key Folio Pro 2 Removable Keyboard case and stand, and the iFrogz Summit case. Kensington is known for its Bluetooth keyboard cases, and TabletPCReview has reviewed a handful in the past, usually to high marks, while iFrogz has been under our radar sans a neat speaker accessory TPCR sister site Brighthand reviewed earlier this year. Let’s find out how each stacked up.
KeyFolio Build & Design
The Keyfolio Pro 2 looks like a standard folio case. It’s all black and sports textured pleather material on the outside over the spine, giving way to smooth pleather for the last third of both the front and back. The back portion features a camera hole and loose elastic strap for securing the case open when it’s folded over itself. Both are well padded and should protect iPad well in the case of an accidental drop.
There is an open-face iPad frame inside the Keyfolio Pro 2 with a secure flap that easily opens up for users to slide the iPad in, and tucks over the iPad, securing it well enough to keep it from sliding out. The frame also has a nice soft felt lining inside to prevent scratches. When secured, both the iPad 2 and new iPad are a bit loose which is typical for this type of folio, and the new iPad fits a bit better because it’s a bit bigger. I experienced no issues with excessive heat from the new iPad while in the Keyfolio Pro 2.
Continuing on in the interior, there is a stylus band on the spine, and the iPad portion has Velcro lining on the inner edge and folds open, propping the iPad up in front of the keyboard. It’s effective on a flat surface, but I’m not a fan of Velcro (magnets are preferable), and the spine is just too loose when the folio is closed. Both ends of the folio, the keyboard and iPad portion, slid around too much for my liking. Also, this case does not have the Smart Cover functionality that uses magnets to wake the iPad when the case is open, and put it to sleep when the case closes. It seems like Kensington could have included a few on the keyboard at least.
Speaking of the keyboard, it’s one of my favorites thanks to its key feature: it comes off! The keyboard is secured tightly by magnets, but pops off with minimal effort. It features the full array of QWERTY chiclet-style keys and I was actually able to pair it with other tablets, including the BlackBerry PlayBook and a handful of Android slates.
There are 83 evenly-spaced keys, including an array of iPad shortcuts for volume, screen brightness and other common controls in lieu of the “F keys.”
There is little to complain about regarding the keyboard, in fact, it’s one of the better that we’ve tested, owing mainly to its mobility and key quality. But it’s not perfect. The keys sit slightly below the top and bottom keyboard border, which ensures that they aren’t accidentally pressed by the iPad screen when the case is closed. This became an issue around the space bar though, where accidental border taps were all too common.
Kensington claims the keyboard offers 100 hours of type time and 60 days of standby time. We never drained the battery after weeks of steady use, so that’s probably accurate. It ships with a micro-to-full USB cable for charging once the 100 hours are up.
The Keyfolio Pro 2 only comes in black and I’ve seen it available for as little as $60 online.
iFrogz Summit Case Build & Design
The iFrogz Summit Case is another that fits both the new iPad and iPad 2, though there are two versions available, with the Summit case designed for the new iPad featuring a business card holder and stylus loop. That’s the one I tested and both iPads snapped easily into its polycarbonate shell.
The shell combines with a polyurethane outer folio-like rear and front cover that includes the stylus holder and soft felt screen protector inside the front flap. There you’ll find the business card holder and magnets to mimic the Smart Cover functionality. I found no use for the business card holder, but those magnets are a nice touch.
The tough polycarbonate shell contains notches and holes for the ports and speakers, and my new iPad didn’t get too hot while snapped in, though like I wrote before, it’s a bit tight, which makes snapping the iPad out a chore.
The rear cover is only permanently attached halfway down the poly shell, when held in landscape mode, with the other half secured by Velcro. This allows users to prop up the iPad, as you would with a Smart Cover.
The Summit Case comes with black, teal, lime green, pink, or white shell, all with the black covers and is available for $60 from iFrogz.
The iFrogz Summit case has everything I want in an iPad case. It has good and durable build, slim profile, and Smart Cover functionality. The stylus loop, business card holder, and the ability to prop the iPad up in landscape mode are just cake. Unfortunately, the $60 price tag makes the cake a little bitter, especially considering the Keyfolio Pro 2 can be had for the same amount.
Yes, the KeyFolio is bulky and unwieldy, and the tablet holder a bit too loose for both the new iPad and iPad 2, but the removable keyboard offers a good typing experience, and it’s versatile.
So where does that leave us? The iFrogz case is good enough to recommend for the regular user that just wants to protect the iPad, but check around online for the best price before committing.
For users that need a real QWERTY, the KeyFolio Pro 2 is a good keyboard stuck in too-big a case. But it’s cheaper than most others on the market, assuming you can find it for $60. That alone makes it worth a gander.