iPhone Life magazine

3 New Keyboards Provide More Options for iPad Typists

New iOS keyboards continue to venture forth. Here are my thoughts on the latest arrivals:

 
The Belkin FastFit Keyboard cover is designed to compete with the Zagg PROplus iPad Keyboard ($129.99) and the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99.99). Unlike those two cases, the Belkin FastFit offers two viewing angles, which means you'll have a lot of open space on the far end of the keyboard, in fact, too much when you see it next to these other keyboards. As with most portable keyboards, Belkin misses a key touch typing element: the full-sized shift key on the right-hand side of the keyboard. Push everything back a half-inch or so and the same arrangement of keys can be easily accommodated. I'm not sure why keyboard manufacturers continue to make this fundamental mistake when Zagg, Logitech, and Clamcase clearly demonstrate keyboards that easily make room for a full-sized right shift key.

If, on the other hand, you don't touch type, then the FastFit presents a good feel, snug fit, and makes for an appealing stand. As with all of these types of keyboards, I worry about the rear of the iPad so I highly recommend a back cover, like the Incipio Feather light or some brand of protection.

Because the keyboard's surface is so shiny, Belkin opted to cover much of it with a thin film to protect it while shipping, including the outer edge. Take a couple of minutes to remove the film or you may think your case is peeling after some extended use.

2. Clamcase pro ($169)

If you ever dreamed of turning your iPad into a notebook computer substitute, then look no further than the ClamCase pro. This case looks similar to previous ClamCase offers, but with upgraded styling.

Clamcase made its reputation by putting three features into one package:

  • a stand;
  • a keyboard;
  • a protective iPad case.

Its patent pending hinge easily adjusts to multiple viewing angles, and if you want to use the tablet as a tablet, keep pushing and it folds right under the upper shell. You can even flip it over so the slightly recessed keyboard is hidden under the shell for a less distracting viewing option (your are less likely to think about email if you fold the keyboard under, at least that is true for me).

Holding the iPad with an exposed keyboard on its rear probably isn't the most comfortable option for long use, but it works.

The keyboard is excellent, with good key separation and a full-sized right shift key. As mentioned above, the keyboard is slightly recessed, but this adds to the style rather than detracting from it like some other brands with close edges encroaching on the keyboard. ClamCase leaves plenty of room for big hands, and it presents the keyboard against a white backdrop to complement the white case and aluminum trim. The entire keyboard is made of aluminum, making it not only good looking, but pretty rugged.

And when it comes to rugged, an iPad sealed in a ClamCase will find itself in a pretty secure environment. A polycarbonate shell complements the aluminum base.

The keyboard connects via Bluetooth, recharges via a micro-USB connector for months of use, and includes the small magnets that wake up the iPad from sleep.

ClamCase has created a top notch keyboard case that's well-designed, functional, and beautiful to look at.

3. AGPtek® Universal Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard ($13.39)

This keyboard is outrageous. It is clearly a plastic version of the Apple keyboard. But it looks good, has great feel (good key travel, full right-shift key, adequate key spacing and nice angle of incline), offers Bluetooth 3.0 support, and includes an off switch and easy access battery compartment. No, it's not a rechargeable, but then again, it's only $13.39 at BrainyDeal. That's right, $13.39. And not only does it work with the iPad, but it also works with a PC, a Mac and Android devices.

I'm not sure I need to say more, but I do need to ask a question: what makes a keyboard cost more than $15? Aluminum, integrated case? Selling keyboards is clearly a lucrative endeavor if $13.39 buys this kind of design and functionality.

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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus, the author of Listening to the Future and Management by Design, is a strategist, industry analyst, and business correspondent for iPhone Life magazine. Prior to starting his own consulting practice, Rasmus was the Director of Business Insights at Microsoft Corporation, where he helped the company envision how people will work in the future.

Before joining Microsoft, Rasmus was Research Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research Inc. Rasmus also is an internationally recognized speaker. He blogs regularly for Fast Company and on his own blog, Your Future in Context. His education-related work can be found at Learning Reimagined.