5 Coolest Wireless iPad Keyboard Folios4:13 PM EST Fri. Aug. 10, 2012
From typing up reports to checking email at the airport, Apple's versatile iPad is even more valuable for productivity when adding a hardware keyboard. But, which one offers the best balance of functionality, cost and ease of use? To help your customers make the choice, the CRN Test Center has checked out a few of today's coolest wireless keyboards.
All of the iPad keyboards we reviewed connect through Bluetooth, and most are charged using an included cable and offer a stand as well as some level of protection for the screen. Not all are compatible with Apple's Smart Cover feature, which uses magnetic sensors to conserve battery life. Like so many other things, the decision comes down to a preference as to look and feel, convenience features and price.
For people looking for a set-and-forget iPad keyboard, the Kensington KeyFolio Expert Multi-Angle Folio and Keyboard is worth a look. Its keys are comfortable to the touch and a dual-angle stand provides 60-degree and low-angle options. Kensington was the only model to provide a sticky "micro-suction" pad that keeps the iPad securely in place. We liked the security of the sticky pad, but it tended to get dirty, and we worry that it might lose its stickiness over time. Also, having to peel the iPad off this very sticky surface when changing from landscape to portrait was inconvenient.
The folio does provide protection for the iPad, although we recommend not using this folio on the go; the floppy material is a bit cumbersome, dirties easily and doesn’t support lap use. The front flap has a magnetic panel for securing the folio closed, but it’s not Smart-Cover capable. The battery life is rated at 80 hours of working time with a standby of 60 days.
Retail price is $99.99
Also from Kensington is the KeyFolio Pro performance keyboard case, a folio-style case built around a slide-in iPad compartment. This allows the screen to easily rotate 360 degrees while the folio is tilted at either 90 degrees or 30 degrees.
The keyboard has two toggle buttons, one to connect the device via Bluetooth and one to turn the power on and off. The power lights indicate that the device is on, connected to Bluetooth, charging and whether caps lock is engaged. The case is made of durable synthetic leather, and the protective edges reduce damage and wear to the iPad and the folio itself. The intuitive design also includes a camera hole and a protective front flap. It does not support the Smart Lock feature. Its working time is rated at 100 working hours with 60 days of standby time. Retail price is $99.
With the Genius LuxePad Ultra-thin Bluetooth Keyboard the iPad will be paired with a sleek keyboard that connects via Bluetooth within 30 feet. The scissor-type key structure with its smooth tactile touch is very responsive. The separate keyboard does not connect to the iPad in any physical way, giving the freedom to use the device on any surface, desk, wall or lap. Like all the other keyboards, the function keys provide one-touch access to many of the iPad’s features. It lists for $69.99.
You'll never need to recharge or replace the keyboard batteries with Logitech's intuitive Solar Keyboard Folio, which gets its juice from the power of the sun, or home or office lighting (it does not charge the iPad itself).
This two-fold keyboard allows the iPad to snap into place on the front cover and rest at 90-degree and 30-degree angles. Thanks to the knobs that support the screen and keep it in place, this folio can be used on the lap without toppling over. The cover doesn't block the camera, nor any of the iPad's ports. It supports Apple's Smart Lock feature, which automatically shuts off the iPad when closed. It's the priciest of the bunch at $129 list.
If buying an iPad cover for ourselves, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is the one most of us in the CRN Test Center would choose. Not a folio, the Ultrathin is a stand-alone keyboard that attaches to the iPad magnetically when in use and when closed, the latter with automatic power-down through Smart Lock.
When in use, the iPad rests in a magnetic slot that tilts it at a comfortable 60-degree angle. It feels secure on the lap, and doesn't seem likely to fall over or out of the slot. The metal cover is a perfect match for the iPad’s silver casing, partnering with the iPad as a sleek, thin travel companion. The instant on/off feature wakes the iPad by pressing keys on the keyboard when the case is opened. The working time is rated at 6 months. Retail price is $99. It will be the best-looking iPad investment ever.
For a more in depth look at the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, check out the CRN Test Center’s video review.
The Latest Headlines In Mobility:
AMD Taps iPad Chip Designer To Head Processor Unit
The 10 Coolest Apps Of 2012 (So Far)
The 10 Coolest Tablets Of 2012 (So Far)