Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case review: Small keys for big fingers

Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case review: Small keys for big fingers

Summary: The FastFit Keyboard Case is the thinnest and lightest model yet for the iPad mini. How well does it work as a keyboard for text entry? Check the review for the answer.

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Open for typing
Credit all images: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The small form of the iPad mini doesn't seem it would be well-suited for use with a keyboard, but accessory makers have proven that's not the case. Belkin has produced a new case for the iPad mini that might be a good fit for those with small hands.

The Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case is the thinnest keyboard case and at only 7mm thick it is even thinner than the svelte iPad mini. It is not a case that completely covers the tablet so if that's important to you look for a folio style case. The FastFit is a single piece that forms a cover to protect the iPad mini screen when clipped into place. The whole assembly forms one of the thinnest and lightest units for transport.

See also: 5 best iPad mini keyboard cases | Galaxy Note 8.0: Still the best small tablet | Two keyboard cases for iPad mini change the game

The iPad mini detaches from the cover and is placed in a magnetic slot for typing. It only supports one viewing angle but it is easy to see the tablet screen. While the tablet attaches in the slot magnetically, it isn't strong enough to safely carry the assembly by grabbing the top of the iPad. The keyboard often fell off in our testing.

The FastFit has a unique magnetic hinge that makes it simple to attach to the iPad mini for closing. Just bring the edge of the tablet near the hinge and it raises up and attaches itself. The assembly is then closed like a book. Since the FastFit only covers the screen the back of the iPad mini is exposed. Like most covers for the iPad mini, the FastFit turns the iPad mini on/off by opening/closing the cover.

Typing experience

Keyboard closeup
FastFit closeup. Note odd placement of some punctuation keys.

The typing experience of a keyboard case is just as important as the case function, maybe more so. OEMs producing other keyboards for the iPad mini have taken a design approach that makes commonly used keys almost as big as a full-size keyboard, with other keys smaller. This yields a decent typing experience for touch typists.

Comparison ZAGG
L-R: FastFit, ZAGGkeys Cover -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

Due to having to place the tablet in a slot away from the back of the cover, Belkin must have a smaller keyboard area than some competitor's models (see comparison above). The result is that most of the keys are very small, with some oversized keys, such as the Enter and two Shift keys. While it is nice to have these easy-to-hit big keys, the rest of the keys are too small for those of us with big hands.

Side view

Another concession Belkin had to make due to the small keyboard area is to move common punctuation keys to strange locations. Touch typing is greatly impeded due to stopping to look for those keys.

While writing this review on the FastFit, I found myself constantly wishing I was using my favorite keyboard, the ZAGGkeys Cover. I create typos on the FastFit too often to get going at a fast clip as a result of the small keys. This would likely not be the case for those with smaller hands.

The FastFit Keyboard Case connects to the iPad mini via Bluetooth, and pairing it the first time is accomplished by hitting the Pair key on the keyboard and then connecting the iPad mini in Settings. This pairing key should have been located on the side edge of the keyboard with other controls rather than waste a key that is seldom used. There is a power switch on the side of the keyboard, along with a microUSB port for charging with the included cable. Belkin claims 40 hours of use on a charge.

Conclusion

Those wanting a keyboard for the iPad mini that also functions as a case won't find one thinner and lighter than the Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case. It is easy to use and easy to pack up for transport when it's time to move. The keyboard is smaller than the competition and harder to use for those with big fingers.

The FastFit is available from Belkin for $79.99, and you may find it cheaper from other online retailers. When the little box arrives you may not believe there is a full keyboard in there, but rest assured it really is that small.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Reviews, Tablets

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10 comments
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  • You know the best thing about the ipad mini + Zaggkeys Cover?

    It weighs nearly as much as the far better Surface RT with touch cover and is significantly thicker.

    Too funny. You just can't make this stuff up.
    toddbottom3
    • This is not a Surface related article

      It is about an iPad accessory, one the Surface, a minor ranked tablet, plays no role in.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • James Kendrick has invited this

        By frequently comparing the Surface to the ipad, specifically around weight and thickness, I feel completely justified in continuing the comparison that James started.
        toddbottom3
      • comparing

        Mac_PC_FenceSitter got alittle testy when his precious iToy was compared to a Surface RT. Seems to me a little double standards going on here. When other devices are compared to iToys everything is fine, but compare an iToy to another device the faniboiz get their panties in a big ole messy iCrap knot.
        javajolt
    • RE: you know the best thing....

      Personally speaking why does all the stupid iPad keyboards have to be Bluetooth? If they were able to just plug into a port on the pad it would save a ton of battery life.
      aja-allen
      • Bluetooth

        Bluetooth is very low power. The bigger issue is not being able to use the keyboard on flights, and to a lesser extent, interference when in a room in which many users are connecting device via bluetooth.
        dsf3g
    • You know the best thing about the Surface RT?

      Trick question: there is no best thing about the Surface RT. Apple made more money from 12 days of selling the iPad, the world's most popular tablet, than Microsoft did in the nine months that all of their Surface models have been on sale. Add in (or, should I say, subtract) the fact that Microsoft had to write off a $900 loss for unsold Surfaces, and you have about a $43 million loss for Microsoft. Apple made more money selling iPod Socks than Microsoft did selling Surfaces.

      Too funny. You just can't make this stuff up.
      buddhistMonkey
      • $correction

        ((( "Microsoft had to write off a $900 loss for unsold Surfaces" )))

        Oops, sorry about that. It's rare that I make a mistake that's off by a factor of six orders of magnitude, but of course, Microsoft's losses on their Surfaces tablets were a whopping $900 million.
        buddhistMonkey
  • Can you use it portrait and landscape?

    I wouldn't want to use any tablet restricted to landscape.
    rfoto
  • really like the way this docks…

    they make some solid products, for sure.
    freemangeoff