For serious typing sessionsa€”or if you just cana€™t get the hang of the iPada€™s onscreen keyboarda€”an external keyboard offers the tactile advantages of real keys without sacrificing the iPada€™s portability and touchscreen features. The iPad supports almost any Bluetooth keyboard, but there are many, many keyboards on the market that are specifically made for use with the iPad. Before I get into the different types of iPad keyboards, and recommended models, here are a few things to think about when shopping. Portability versus usability: With the exception of stand-alone models, iPad keyboards involve usability trade-offs.
The typing experience: While plenty of iPad keyboards offer interesting features, an attractive design, or a small footprint, they vary widely when it comes to typing. Just your type With all that out of the way, read on for details on the main types of iPad keyboards (and related accessories) available, along with my recommendations for a few of the best in each category. Easily the most common type, these keyboards are integrated into a full-body, folio-style iPad case that protects your iPad all over. Honorable mentions: Many other models in this category are simply bulky leather or faux-leather folios with a disappointing keyboard tacked onto the inside of the case. Kensingtona€™s KeyFolio Exact line is worth a recommendation because of the keyboard the KeyFolio Exact models share. These models essentially turn your iPad into a laptop: The iPad acts as the laptop screen, while the keyboard and its surrounding enclosure, attached by some sort of hinge, play the role of the laptop base, often complete with palmrests.
As with clamshell-case models, the keyboards here tend to be a bit cramped, and the keys are usually smaller than normal. The original and iPad Air versions of the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover are very similar to each other, though the one for the iPad Air is, of course, a bit smaller.
The very latest model, the Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-on Keyboard Cover, is even thinner, yet it manages to make the actual keys slightly larger, and it even gives you a separate special-function-key row instead of overlaying those functions on the number keys. If you have an iPad 2, 3, or 4, ita€™s easy to decide which Ultrathin to get, as only one of the three models fits those iPads.
Belkina€™s $80 Qode FastFit Keyboard Cover (iPad 2, 3, 4) is similar in design to Logitecha€™s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, but without the magnetic hinge. Instead of a physical keyboard, several companies offer overlays that lie on your iPada€™s screena€”generally secured using magnets or some kind of sticky siliconea€“and add a tactile feel to the iPada€™s own software keyboard. Keyboard overlays can be convenienta€”they take up quite a bit less space than a full keyboard, and they dona€™t require batteries or charginga€”but I personally dona€™t find them to be enough of an improvement over the iPada€™s on-screen keyboard to make them worth the cost.
Zagg, a company that makes high quality keyboard cases for iPads that we’ve reviewed in the past, today introduced two brand new keyboard cover and folio designs for iPad mini. ZAGGkeys Cover: The first product Zagg is showing off today at CTIA 2013 is the ZAGGkeys Cover (pictured above). The Folio will sell for $99 in black and white (more colors coming soon) when it launches at retail. As iPad becomes more of a portable workhorse, the need for professional grade accessories drastically increases. First in the Belkin lineup, the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air is extremely thin and crafted of light, aircraft-grade aluminum for a matching feel and aesthetic with existing Apple products. My wife uses this case on her iPad Air and really enjoys the extra productivity that comes with the Bluetooth keyboard. A unibody, anodized aluminum design, the Belkin QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air squeezes into a mere 4mm form factor.
Thin Type utilizes a fixed viewing angle of approximately 35 degrees, depending on how close the user sits to the unit. The Belkin QODE Slim Style Keyboard Case for iPad Air is a folio designed iPad case with a built in keyboard. Considering the unit’s small size and focus on a padfolio design, there is no battery rating for this product, which makes me assume it is nothing too extreme. Two-sided protection is provided in a folio style case with a built in SecureLock system that keeps iPad fastened to the frame. A magnetic clip works to match the iPad internal magnets, ensuring a proper seal, and the magnetic groove holds iPad at a designated angle for touching and viewing. The Tablet Keyboard is not a folio or case, rather an external accessory that works with iPad Air. Designed for iPad Air, this Bluetooth keyboard features island-style keys and up to 30% more typing space that some competing devices.
The ZAGGkeys Universal Black Keyboard from ZAGG switches, literally, between Android, iOS, and Windows. Like the Universal keyboard listed above, the ZAGGkeys FLEX Portable Keyboard and Stand is not specifically designed to hold an iPad. Like its brother options, island-style keys provide a familiar typing experience and the folding case keeps devices in either landscape or portrait mode. The typing angle is, however, a fixed angle, once the case is folded properly.
Impressively, the Kensington KeyFolio Exact Plus Thin Folio with Keyboard includes dedicated locations to select different viewing angles for iPad Air. Six rows of island-style keys give a laptop feel, including special keys, and the seven selectable backlight colors keep things fresh and well lit.
Seemingly, playing little brother to the Exact Plus Folio listed above, the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Plus Folio with Keyboard for iPad Air, uses a sliding installation instead of a shell style case. Many people are replacing laptops with the iPad and a keyboard case, gives the option to have one or not.
Exactly, I think some of the Bluetooth keyboards for the iPad might have a shortcut or something to do it.
I bought the Zagg Keys Folio and have been happy with it… would recommend it to anyone looking for a keyboard case. All cute keyboards trying to make a limited and overpriced device more productive…just makes it even more expensive than the Transformer T100 that offers a lot more for just $400.
Finally, you have the ability to try out paid Windows Store apps before paying for them, all through one installation. I sincerely hope microshit is paying for all the time I made you waste typing that garbage commercial you just did to promote their crap as an answer to my single liner… Who’s the idiot now?
Btw now that I got your attention, no matter your camp, android, iOS, windows, Linux, why you people get soo riled up about this shit? I get irritated when I come across misleading posts, and I reply to them hoping others don’t get mislead when they read such post. You are the only one getting irritated my friend, honestly nobody cares about our opinions or facts if you will, I could do the same proselytizing chrome notebooks and you would not care either… Waste of time and effort really, off to work and do something really productive with my Saturday, have a nice day! And FYI, I just buy what works, but love my clients purchasing Microsoft products, keeps my business going!
I bought the Logitech iPad Air keyboard case, it is a good keyboard and very lightweight BUT, the case won’t stay closed!!!!! These tend to be designed for portability, and they usually include iOS-specific special-function keys for adjusting volume and screen brightness, controlling media playback, opening iOSa€™s Spotlight-search screen, going to the Home screen, and more. If you frequently need a physical keyboard when using your iPad, youa€™ll appreciate the convenience of a keyboard built into a case, as the keyboard will always be with you.
When making specific recommendations, I place a heavy emphasis on the typing experience: If a keyboard doesna€™t dramatically improve typing compared to the iPada€™s on-screen keyboard, I dona€™t recommend it. If youa€™re shopping for a keyboard casea€”rather than a stand-alone keyboard that works with any iPada€”be sure to get the right one for your iPad.
The all-in-one design of folio keyboards is convenient, and most make it easy to type on your lapa€”no desk or table required. For starters, the actual keyboards tend to be cramped and have small, poor-quality keys, sometimes using odd layouts. But its keyboard is easy to type on and not too cramped, and it even sports backlit keys, allowing you to choose the brightness level and cycle through 14 backlight colors. Both look nice and include a special fold in the cover that lets you slide your iPad over the keyboard for use as a standard (though thick) tablet. Though the keys are a bit small, and they dona€™t feel quite as nice as those on the recommended models above (for example, I found that I had to press keys a bit more firmly than on those keyboards), the keys offer good tactile feedback, the key layout is standard, and the keyboard is overall nice to touch-type on. Though its keyboard isna€™t quite as good as that on the KeyFolio Exact modelsa€”the keys are thinner and dona€™t offer the same tactile feedbacka€”it uses the same standard layout with a dedicated special-function-key row.
The well-built clamshell encloses your iPad in an attractive, aluminum-and-plastic case that looks and functions almost exactly like a laptopa€”so much so that while testing it, I often reached for a palmrest trackpad that doesna€™t exist.
Ita€™s a bit cramped, and the modifier keys are on the small side; but all the keys are in the correct place, ita€™s got a nice array of dedicated special-function keys (including Cut, Copy, and Paste), and therea€™s little here that will frustrate a touch-typist. But ita€™s still a decent option if you insist on a clamshell model, or if you have an older iPad. Like the Brydge, below, the Cover for iPad Air forgoes a protective iPad cover or shell in order to give you an extremely thin clamshell-keyboard design. Instead of the Zagg Covera€™s single wide hinge, however, the Brydge+a€™s base sports two narrow-but-still-sturdy hinges. Ia€™m awaiting a review unit, and Ia€™ll update this section once Ia€™ve had a chance to test the new model. Each has a keyboard thata€™s a tad more cramped than those of the Brydge+ and ClamCase models, and the keys feel just okay, but the Airbender models offer some unique and welcome features.

They integrate a thin keyboard into a rigid shell that protects the front (screen) of the iPad in transit.
The models Ia€™ve recommended are nevertheless quite usable, and despite their super-thin profiles, they have keys that feel nice when typing. Instead of gripping the edges of your iPad, each Ultrathin Keyboard Cover uses a hinge that attaches magnetically to the edge of the tablet; the keyboard then closes against your iPada€™s screen (again, sticking magnetically) to protect the screen during transit.
Each uses a hinge that looks like, and functions identically to, the hinge on Applea€™s Smart Cover. The newest versiona€™s keys arena€™t quite as nice to type on as the ones on the earlier two models, but theya€™re still very good for this type of keyboard, and their larger size makes up for much of that difference in feel. If you have an iPad Air, youa€™ll need to make a decision: Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air or Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-on Keyboard Cover? You just detach the Pro Plus from your iPad, prop your iPad in the slot above the keys, and type away. However, the Thin Typea€™s keyboard bests its siblinga€™s thanks to a dedicated special-function-key row and some interesting keys that correspond to the iTunes Radio options to Play More Like This, Never Play This Song, and Add To iTunes Wish List. Instead, ita€™s got a magnetic, stationary lip along the back edge that holds the iPad in place during travel.
Also, I had to press those keys a bit more firmly than expected for the key presses to register. This approach prevents accidental keypresses, and I liked typing with it better than with the Touchfire, but I found the bubbles to be too difficult to press compared to good physical keys. And, of course, you must move them out of the way whenever you want to use the iPada€™s screen normally.
Zagg says its the thinnest Bluetooth keyboard on the market at 6.3mm and it also features backlit keys in 7 colors and three brightness settings (Zagg already makes one of our favorite backlit keyboards for iPad with similar features).
Be the first to know about product launches, iOS updates, product carriers reports, and competitor analysis. Both models work as cover cases and use a design principle that is now pretty successful for iPad keyboards.
Our own Jeff Benjamin swears by his iPad to muscle common tasks for his daily blogging needs.
Software keyboards only take up screen space, but do not take up space in a travel bag or add weight.
Additionally, the fixed angles make it a nice option for sitting on the couch without worrying about keeping the device held a certain way. In addition to offering an ample TruType keyboard layout, the Thin Type doubles as a protective case, sliding easily into bags, packs, or purses. With 5 colors to choose from, the folio can also be paired for a fashion statement or give a more personalized experience. With a touch of Apple flair, the cover is aluminum and the keyboard is nestled on the opposite side. A small Bluetooth keyboard that travels inside a folded carrying case, the Tablet Keyboard also uses dedicated iPad shortcuts. With ZAGGkeys Folio with Backlit Keyboard at 7.6mm thin, travel is not restricted, considering it is one of the thinnest full sized offerings, close to the Logitech FabricSkin. With a travel case that also operates as a stand, the FLEX is small enough to fit inside a jacket pocket and, at only 320 grams (11.3oz), will not bother the handler with weight. However, if necessary, the Bluetooth keyboard detaches from its magnetic housing, which provides limitless viewing angles and extra versatility. Shape, weight, battery, keyboard style, and price are probably the five more important things you should look at when shopping for a keyboard.
But honestly if you want a keyboard you shouldn’t of gone for a iPad in the first place.
I have both and use my iPad for note taking, but I just use a Bluetooth keyboard when needed. Keys still light up, case handles scratches well (almost non existent), and it’s so easy to take in and out of the case. I have owned the original apple one for the iPad one, and then the SmartCover for the two, and the Logitech magneto keyboard for the three. So, there’s no need for proprietary apps for proprietary storage solutions AND no need to connect to some other PC with iTunes just to give some app access to a file. I put the iPad Air connected to the keyboard case in the side pocket of my car door only to get to my meeting with a dead battery.
The result of all that testing is this buying guide, which includes both general shopping advice and specific recommendations. If, however, you use an external keyboard infrequentlya€”or you just like to use the iPad unencumbered for non-typing tasksa€”you may find a bulky, folio-style keyboard case to be a hassle, as it can be difficult to remove. The smaller the keyboard, the more portable it is, but the more crowded the keys are, or the more youa€™ll find keys that are the wrong size or in the wrong locations.
Similarly, my recommendations are somewhat biased toward touch-typists, so a keyboard thata€™s especially cramped or that organizes keys in a nonstandard layout has to be otherwise very impressive to get my recommendation.
To help you out, Ia€™ve noted in my recommendations which keyboard cases fit which full-size iPads; if youa€™re looking for a keyboard for the iPad mini, Ia€™ve included a separate section for the mini at the end of this guide. In the past, most of these models used a leather (or leather-like) folio case, but more and more are using plastic shells to reduce size and weight. Many also limit the iPad to a single propped-up angle and landscape orientationa€”even though portrait orientation is often better when youa€™re typing traditional documents. The keys have great tactile response, theya€™re larger than those on most folio keyboards, and theya€™re spaced normally. You get a dedicated row of iOS special-function keys, and you also get a couple keys for quickly selecting text. In return for this added depth, you get multiple screen angles and a built-in stylus holder, and you can remove the keyboard itself from the folio for a more-ergonomic typing arrangement. The Folioa€™s excellent keyboard, like that on the ProFolio+, above, is easy to type on and offers backlit keys.
Instead of such a cover, the back edge of the keyboard base hosts a wide, sturdy hinge with a slot for the edge of your iPad Air. You slip your iPad into these silicone-lined hinges, and they grab the tablet firmly enough that the keyboard wona€™t detach without some firm tugging. When youa€™re ready to type, you just flip the keyboard away from the screen, give it a gentle tug to detach the hinge, and then prop your iPad in the slot above the keys.
You also now get a right-hand ctrl key, a dedicated Spotlight-search key, and a dedicated screenshot key.
A nice bonus feature is that, like the ProFolio+, the Pro Plusa€™s keyboard uses backlit keys for easier typing in low-light environments. The Thin Type uses a Smart Cover-like hinge, and it looks fantastic thanks to a unibody anodized-aluminum bodya€”at the thinner front edge, this is the thinnest keyboard shell Ia€™ve seen, though the edges are MacBook Air-sharp. It bests the Ultrathin by offering two grooves for your iPad, so you get a choice of two screen angles. The result is a typing experience that isna€™t as good as what youa€™ll get with the other keyboard shells recommended here. The Touchfire does make typing a bit more tactile for touch-typists, but the overall experience isna€™t otherwise much different than typing on the bare screen.
It also includes magnets to keep the case closed and secure when in transit and up to 3 months battery life with normal use. While the Slim is a padfolio design, it still offers the same TruType, responsive experience of the other two members in the QODE line.
The Bluetooth keyboard is clicks like a true desktop experience and dedicated iPad shortcuts are included.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover comes in at $99.99 retail (including free shipping) and similarly priced via Amazon. Inventively, the carrying cases doubles as a folding stand for iPad, in either landscape or portrait orientations. Rated at around 180 hours, the battery is similar to the competition, but the weight of the overall unit is slightly heavier at 535g or just over one full pound. Island-style keys are similar to full sized keyboards, instead of recessed or covered with a material. The ZAGGkeys Universal Black Keyboard has a reasonable buy-in at $69.99 retail (free shipping) or nab it from Amazon at $45. FLEX will operate with both Apple and Android specific functionality, including keyboard shortcuts. The folio case flap doubles back for a small wrist rest and the raised bezel protects iPad from scratches. Part of the convenient design also includes a one-handed open or close and the iPad wakes or sleeps automatically.
Using the same six row, island keyboard design, Pro Plus also has seven selectable backlit colors. Most iPad keyboards are integrated into some sort of protective case, although a good number are stand-alone models.

Keyboard shells, described below, are a nice compromise, and stand-alone keyboards offer the most flexibility. Stand-alone keyboards, on the other hand, tend to be larger, and they arena€™t as all-in-one convenient, but they generally offer standard key feel and size, a standard key layout, and a typing experience closer to that of a desktop keyboard.
These models, along with keyboard shells (below), also tend to include the thinnest keyboards. It can be a hassle to remove the iPad from the case, which means you end up carrying the keyboard when you dona€™t need ita€”yet it can also be inconvenient to use your iPad as a tablet while ita€™s in the case. Logitech accomplishes this feat by making a few symbol keys on the righta€”[ ] \ ; and a€™a€”half-width, and by converting the Tab and Caps Lock keys into fn-key-activated overlays of the Q and A keys, respectively. Best of all, the iPad Air version is just over half an inch thick when closed, and the keyboard and iPad Air together weigh under two pounds. My only major complaint about this keyboard is that therea€™s a raised frame at the front, just below the Spacebar and modifier keys, thata€™s slightly taller than the keys. Ita€™s not the most-attractive keyboard folioa€”for example, there are some flaps of extra material that will surely show wear and tear over timea€”but ita€™s versatile. The Thin X3a€™s case includes the capability to flip the iPad over the keyboard for tablet-mode use; the keyboard automatically turns off when your iPad isna€™t propped up for typing. Like folio-style models, most clamshells hold the iPad in landscape orientation, though you may find ones that let you prop the tablet up in portrait orientation. The only real difference I found is that the iPad Air versiona€™s hinge isna€™t quite as stiff as that on the a€?oldera€? version.
The overall design makes it easy to use the Folio on your lap; however, the hinge design makes it a challenge to access the iOS Control Center feature, since the bottom edge of the iPada€™s screen is so close to the hinge.
Slip your iPad into that slota€”it takes a bit of force to insert or removea€”and your bare iPad serves as the a€?laptopa€? screen and top case, folding flat against the base to cover the screen for transit.
The Brydge+ also includes a pair of tinny-but-decent Bluetooth speakers to give you louder audio.
Most keyboard shells offer only a single angle for your iPad, though they often let you use your iPad in your choice of portrait or landscape orientation.
Combine an Ultrathin with a Smart Cover-compatible back shell, and your iPad is completely protected in transit. A few keys are also narrower than on the original version, but instead of fingerprint-magnet glossy black, the area above the keyboard has a nicer matte finish on the Air version.
Having used both extensively, I recommend buying whichever one you find for a lower pricea€”unless youa€™d really value the capability to change the angle of your iPad while typing, in which case youa€™ll want the Magnetic. The company says the Thin Typea€™s battery, which adds a bit of thickness to the back edge, offers 3,100 hours of standby life or 79 hours of active use. And I found that because of the tactile feel, I frequently rested my fingers on the Touchfirea€™s key areas, which resulted in accidental key taps. He's been writing about tech since 1994, and he's also published software, worked in IT, and worked as a policy analyst. The Bluetooth keyboard is the answer for users looking to get extra mileage from their iPad Air. Additionally, 4,300 hours of standby keep Ultimate going on the road and recharge with the included USB-to-micro-USB cable when necessary. The QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air retails through Belkin for $129.00, and can be found on Amazon, starting at $90. Like an Apple Smart Cover, the Thin Type uses magnets to autowake iPad Air when the case is removed. The battery, even in the small 4mm design, will hold out for an estimated 79 hours, with 3,100 standby hours.
When not using the keyboard, it flips around, behind the iPad for easy reading or movie watching with one hand.
Like other Logitech keyboards, the standard keyboard design is accompanied by iPad specific shortcuts. Keeping everything tidy, the keys are low profile, both for portability and for easy storage, giving a mere 16mm depth. For the extra bells, the ZAGGkeys Folio with Backlit Keyboard retails for $99.99 (with free shipping), but no discount is offered through Amazon. Sliding into a travel case, the keyboard is easily portable and the case has a hidden tablet or phone stand built-in. At 2.78lbs, this is not the lightest design, but many of the individual enhancements make this a contender. The biggest difference is the faux leather exterior, no wrist rest, and a lighter form factor at 2.15lbs. For the first time, I really don’t mind the case or the cover, and the keyboard is fantastic.
Point is, the iPad has nothing exclusive to it that Atom tablets don’t offer, yet it costs more. Regardless of the design, most include rechargeable batteries that last for weeks or months on a charge. Youa€™ll need to decide which trade-offs youa€™re willing to make in the name of portabilitya€”especially if youa€™re a touch typista€”and check for these trade-offs when shopping. If you use either Tab or Caps Lock frequently, this arrangement may not be for you, but I suspect that most people will be willing to give up one-touch access to these functions in favor of full-size-keyboard feel. But what makes the Thin X3 worth including here is that its 1650-mAh battery can be used to charge your phone, at full 1-Amp speed, as long as the X3a€™s battery has enough juice left.
Overall, the ClamCase Pro models offer one of the best on-your-lap typing experiences of the iPad keyboard cases Ia€™ve tested.
The shell covering your iPad has nifty channels that redirect your iPada€™s audio toward you; and both the top and bottom of the case offer a nice, grippy texture. The Covera€™s keyboard is excellenta€”ita€™s the standard model used on all recent Zagg keyboard cases, including the Folio, abovea€”and conveniently backlit. And if you want to use the iPad on its own, a quick-release latch on the stand lets you detach the iPad, still clad in the Airbendera€™s protective top case.
Keyboard shells can be used on your lap if youa€™re careful, but theya€™re usually less stable on your lap than folios and clamshells, especially if your iPad is positioned in portrait orientation. Though there are many copycat products out there these days, the Logitech models are still the best overall, in my opinion.
Instead of the Smart Cover-like hinge found on the earlier models, the Magnetic Clip-on Keyboard Cover features a hinge that collapses into the body of the cover when youa€™re using the keyboard; you extend the hinge by carefully sliding your iPad, flat against the cover, toward the hinge until the iPada€™s own magnets cause the hinge to pop up. A nifty touch is that when you remove your iPad Air from the Thin Typea€™s slot, the keyboard immediately turns off, so you avoid accidental typing when your iPad isna€™t propped up for work.
Obviously, the keys are smaller, buy for many people who want to do some serious typing, this remains the best option.
For a propped viewing angle, a small stand comes from the back and operates at variable angles, depending on distance.
For more information about the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, make sure to read Lory’s review. Bring the KeyFolio Exact Plus Thin Folio home for $149.99 retail, or score one for $127 via Amazon.
Pricing is also a factor, with KeyFolio Pro Plus Folio retailing for $119.99, or available for $99 from Amazon.
Its basically full size, and while the layout takes a bit of getitng used to, It works wonderfully. A literal hands-on test is immensely valuable if you can get one; otherwise, be sure the store or website youa€™re buying from offers a good return policy. You also get the usual array of iOS special-function keys, accessible as fn-key overlays of the top row of numbers and symbols, as well as text-selection keys as overlays of the arrow keys. Like the ClamCase Pro, this one offers a very good on-your-lap experience, though at a much lower price. The Cover adds only a quarter of an inch of thickness and under a pound of weight to your iPad, and the hinge is sturdy and adjustable, making this another great lap-typing option. In my testing, I regularly pressed the up-arrow key, thus moving the cursor to the previous line, when I meant to press Shift. At $149 retail (with free shipping), this is an expensive option and no pricing relief is offered by Amazon.
I had bought the ipad 4 keyboard case and it was the best, had the magnetic case closure BUT this iPad Air case does NOT!!!. My biggest beef is that the hinge, like the one the Folio, makes it difficult to access iOSa€™s Control Center.
If the keys were better, one of the Airbender models might be my keyboard case of choice thanks to the unique versatility.
The only drawback to this feature is that you must remember to manually press the hinged slot back into place before putting your iPad and the cover together for travel.

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