15 best iPad and iPad mini keyboards (hands on): Fall 2013

15 best iPad and iPad mini keyboards (hands on): Fall 2013

Summary: There are quite a few keyboards available for the iPad and iPad mini. Most take the form of covers and folio cases made of various materials. Here are the best of them.

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TOPICS: Mobility, iPad, Tablets
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  • Hands-on guide to keyboards for iPad and iPad mini (Fall 2013)

    The iPad ecosystem is thriving with third-party accessories, and for those wanting a keyboard to use with Apple's tablet there are many to choose from. There are new keyboards released all the time, so figuring out which one might work best is almost as hard as finding a good app in the App Store.

    This collection of iPad keyboards is unique in that I have used all of them except for two. I have used lots of iPad keyboards in my work, and these are the best of the bunch. Three new keyboards from major accessory makers are included in this collection.

    Most of the cases in this group are shown closed for thinness and open for business. With the one exception mentioned, all of the keyboards charge via micro USB, and will last for months on a charge. A micro USB to USB charging cable is included with these keyboards. They all connect to the iPad via Bluetooth.

    In addition to ten good iPad keyboards, there is a bonus for iPad mini owners. Five keyboards for the iPad mini are also included in this collection. These keyboards work remarkably well with the little iPad mini, even supporting rapid touch typing. I have written over 50,000 words using these keyboards so I know they work.

  • Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case

    The Ultimate Keyboard Case has an aluminum bottom and a black plastic top with a faux leather insert. It weighs less than a pound and is only a little thicker than the iPad. It has a Bluetooth keyboard that supports fast touch typing and, most importantly, it can support the iPad in three different viewing angles to suit any situation.

    Specifications:

    • Dimensions: 245 x 197 x 18.8 mm (9.6 x 7.75 x 0.74 inches); 411 gm (0.9 pounds)
    • Key travel: 1.6 mm (0.06 inches)
    • Key spacing: 2.8 mm (0.11 inches)
    • Keyboard thickness: 6.9 mm (0.27 inches)

    Belkin uses three strips of magnets above the keyboard that grip the iPad for viewing. These provide three viewing angles, all of which are good for using the keyboard. It's easy to move the iPad to any of these positions and to close the case for transport. When the iPad is gripped by one of these magnets the keyboard automatically turns on and when the magnetic seal is broken, the keyboard is powered off. No power switch is needed for this reason.

    The Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for the iPad is available in black and in white. The black model, as reviewed, is $99.99 and the white model, which is aluminum on both the top and bottom of the case, is $129. The white model should be slightly lighter than the black one.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets

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12 comments
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  • The 15 "best" ... Keyboards

    You have to let that soak in for a minute ... 15 "best" out of ???
    That there are so many speaks to something... But what
    A. Steve was wrong
    B. Keyboards for iPad generally fail to satisfy users so they keep trying
    C. Users keep buying keyboards fueling the supply
    D. If at first you don't succeed
    E. Surface should include a keyboard of your choice (Touch or Type) at no additional charge.
    greywolf7
    • Too many companies selling Apple accessories

      I think this speak more to the fact that there are so many companies large and small that are making and selling accessories for apple devices. I rarely see anyone using a keyboard with a tablet, but who knows when they're sitting at a desk. Maybe that's what people buy these for, when they're at home or at the office and have lot's of typing to do, naturallyl using a physical keyboard is easier than a digital one.
      new gawker
  • The 15 "best" ... Keyboards

    You have to let that soak in for a minute ... 15 "best" out of ???
    That there are so many speaks to something... But what
    A. Steve was wrong
    B. Keyboards for iPad generally fail to satisfy users so they keep trying
    C. Users keep buying keyboards fueling the supply
    D. If at first you don't succeed
    E. Surface should include a keyboard of your choice (Touch or Type) at no additional charge.
    greywolf7
  • I agree with 2 out of 5

    Steve wasn't wrong. He gave you an iPad with a keyboard; a touchscreen one. When you buy a car, you get an engine. Some people want a stronger engine, so they pay for additional parts.

    If you want a Surface, with a real keyboard, you pay extra, just like with an iPad.

    So Steve was right.

    "Keyboards for iPad users fail to satisfy." besides this being your opinion, which is biased, you realize that Surface users whose keypads fell apart after a week of use, we're probably as disappointed.

    Even Microst upgraded their keyboards this year, people will always buy something that's been tweaked hoping for a better experience

    "If at first you don't succeed...". Please, this column was not about the 10 years of failed Microsoft attempts to make a tablet people would use, and even now must take billion dollar write offs, this column was about the iPad, un unbelievable success from its first day of availability
    ShazAmerica
    • Not about the iPad is about physical keyboards.

      If there was a killer keyboard that worked it would sell and you wouldn't have; 15 "best" keyboards. This absurd situation speaks for itself in an indisputable fashion.
      greywolf7
      • I'm sorry, but it doesn't speak to anything, really

        Just look at the plethora of keyboards available for PC's. There's a lot more than 15, and there are quite a few good ones. Microsoft, Logitech, Belkin and many other manufacturers all have multiple models with different characteristics, performance and features. One of my computers (my less used system) has an inexpensive HP keyboard. My iPad has a Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad. I'm typing this right now on my main computer using an Unicomp keyboard - which is the *original* IBM Model M buckling spring keyboard.

        In fact, if there ever was a "killer keyboard" it would almost have to be that above mentioned IBM Model M. That's been the standard everyone has compared to since 1984. There are a lot of them still around and if you want a new one, as I said, you can still buy them from Unicomp.

        Keyboards are not - and never have been - a "one size fits all" item. Even my beloved Model M's aren't going to be liked by someone. Too loud. Too heavy. Something.
        RaulYbarra
  • CRUXSkunk

    I supported the KickStarter project called CRUXSkunk which is a keyboard/sace for the iPad and almost every backer including myself are very satisfied with the first model. We've suggested many improvements for the next generation but even at that we are mostly all very satisfied with the product.
    cammrook
  • Darn.

    I was hoping to see the list, but I refuse to click though slideshows that refresh the entire page for each slide just to generate more $ for zdnet.
    rynning
  • If Steve Jobs wanted us to have keyboards....

    ... he would have given us keyboards. Snicker.
    Vesicant
  • Physical keyboards ?

    If physical keyboards are what you want, then why not just get a laptop?
    Nah, that would be too simple.
    (Disclaimer: "She who must be obeyed" has an iPad and loves it.)
    da philster
  • Really?

    "If physical keyboards are what you want, then why not just get a laptop?
    Nah, that would be too simple."

    Because sometimes you might just want to leave your keyboard at home or perhaps you just want to take your tablet to bed with you for reading, browsing, etc. That's why you wouldn't just buy a laptop. Geez.
    aztec506
  • Sleeve for the Keyboard

    found this sleeve for the original BT Keyboard. Could fit with some more third party stuff:

    https://www.etsy.com/de/listing/121823666/ipad-mini-tastatur-bio-leder-tasche?ref=shop_home_active
    Werner Tschernoussow