iPad 2 keyboard case shootout

Summary:A roundup of three of the best keyboard/case combos for the iPad 2.

The iPad 2 is a good tablet that can be used for serious work with the addition of a keyboard. There are lots of wireless keyboards that work with the iPad, and a few of those fill the role of a case for the tablet, too. I have been using three of the best keyboard/cases for the iPad 2 and they each have strengths and weaknesses worth considering if you are looking for the one that will best serve your needs.

Two of the keyboards are products of Logitech, makers of accessories for a wide range of products. The third is the brainchild of the folks at ZAGG, maker of phone and tablet accessories. The three keyboards in this roundup are:

Logitech Keyboard Case -- The Logitech Keyboard Case is an aluminum tray with a keyboard inside. The iPad 2 snaps into the tray facedown for transport, turning the duo into a single piece in the gear bag. The iPad 2 is removed for use with the keyboard by popping it into a slot above the keys. The iPad 2 can be used in either landscape or portrait orientations as desired.

See also: Typical day in the life of an iPad 2; Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2: Hands-on review

Logitech Fold-up Keyboard -- The Logitech Fold-up Keyboard is a unique case that when opened extends a two piece full-sized keyboard. This is the only one of the three being covered that has a full sized keyboard with keys and key spacing the same as regular keyboards. This keyboard rivals that of any laptop.

See also: Logitech Fold-up Keyboard for iPad 2: Full-sized, full featured (review)

ZAGGfolio -- The ZAGGfolio keyboard looks much like the Logitech Keyboard Case as both are designed by ZAGG. The ZAGGfolio combines a removable keyboard with an iPad case that turns it all into a one piece design that is easy to carry and use. Both ZAGG keyboards are near full sized and can be comfortably used at full typing speed.

See also: ZAGGfolio keyboard for iPad 2: form and function refined (review)

Size/weight: The iPad 2 is very thin and light, and these cases add bulk to the tablet. The lightest of the three is the Logitech Keyboard Case due to its minimal design. Next is the ZAGGfolio, which is only a little thicker with the iPad 2 in the case, and about the same weight due to its polyurethane construction. Last is the Logitech Fold-up Keyboard, which is quite a bit thicker and heavier than the other two cases.

Typing: All three of these keyboards make it possible to do heavy writing on the iPad 2. I have written at least 1,000 words a day with each of them for extended periods. The Logitech Fold-up Keyboard gets the nod for pure typing due to its no-compromise keyboard. The other two keyboards are almost as good, but require a short period of adjustment to the reduced size. If you have used a 10-inch netbook keyboard then you can use either of these with no problems. I have large hands but can type at full speed on all three of these units.

Protection: All three of these devices double as cases for the iPad 2, so it is logical to consider how each protects the tablet. The Logitech Keyboard Case exposes the back of the iPad 2, subjecting it to possible scratching in the gear bag. The Logitech Fold-up Keyboard exposes the screen of the iPad 2, but it can be used with the Apple Smart Cover to protect it. The best protection is provided by the ZAGGfolio, which is a full case completely covering the iPad 2 when closed.

Versatility: The iPad 2 can be used in a variety of ways, and so can these cases. The Logitech Keyboard Case can except the iPad 2 in either landscape or portrait orientation with ease. The Logitech Fold-up Keyboard only works in landscape orientation, which may not be acceptable to some. The most versatile of the three cases is the ZAGGfolio, as both the iPad 2 and the keyboard unit can be easily removed from the case.

The normal method to use the ZAGGfolio is by simply opening the case and popping the iPad 2 into the keyboard support slot. The design of the case makes this a natural process. By sliding the iPad 2 out of the top of the case, it can be popped into the support slot in portrait orientation. Finally, the keyboard and iPad 2 can be totally removed from the case, making it much like the Logitech Keyboard Case when used this way.

Price: The three keyboards are similarly priced as follows:

  • Logitech Keyboard Case: $99.99
  • Logitech Fold-up Keyboard: $129.99
  • ZAGGfolio: $99.99 (leather model $129.99)

While I like typing on the full-sized keyboard best, my favorite of the three is the ZAGGfolio. The single piece design is the easiest to use, and the case protects my iPad 2 better than the other two. It is also as portable as can be, while offering multiple methods of use depending on the situation.

See also:

Topics: Hardware, iPad, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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