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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.
- 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.
Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case
In addition to the magnetic grips for standing the iPad, the Ultimate Case also lets you slide the iPad forward for use as a tablet. The iPad covers the keyboard in this position so the keys are not exposed. This works surprisingly well for using the tablet without removing it from the case, as is the norm for other cases.