Kensington KeyCover for iPad Air: Keyboard that's skinny and light (hands on)

Kensington KeyCover for iPad Air: Keyboard that's skinny and light (hands on)

Summary: The third-party ecosystem for Apple's iPad Air is going strong, as witnessed by the number of keyboards hitting the market. This model by Kensington is available now, and we go hands-on with it.

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Tablets are great for both work and play, but sometimes you need a good keyboard to get stuff done. New third-party keyboards are arriving constantly, including the KeyCover for the iPad Air from accessory maker Kensington.

Kensington KeyCover side view
Kensington KeyCover (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The KeyCover is as thin and light as possible, due to its aluminum construction. It is precisely tooled to fit the iPad Air, and serves as a protective cover for the screen for transport. The iPad Air snaps into the keyboard tray, and is easily removed for using the tablet alone.

Like most iPad keyboards, the KeyCover connects wirelessly via Bluetooth. It charges with an included microUSB cable, and the charge should last two to three months. It pairs to the iPad Air with a keypress, followed by typing a number on the keyboard to complete the process.

Kensington KeyCover LED indicators
Kensington KeyCover LED indicators (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The on/off switch for the KeyCover is located on the back of the unit, and is obscured with the iPad Air inserted in the magnetic slot for use with the keyboard. There are three LED indicator lights to the left of the power switch. Oddly, the most useful indicator is the Caps Lock LED, which is not visible during operation as the iPad Air blocks it.

The iPad Air can be used in either landscape or portrait modes by inserting it in the slot next to the top row of keys. The tablet is held securely by magnets in the slot; in fact, the entire unit can be lifted by the iPad Air. Removing the tablet is as simple as tilting it forward, which breaks the magnetic connection.

Kensington KeyCover keyboard
Kensington KeyCover keyboard (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The KeyCover has six rows of keys, and while spacing it tight, fast touch typing is possible with a little practice. Both the Enter and two Shift keys are bigger than the others, making them easy to hit.

The four arrow keys are small, but come in handy when moving around documents.

kensington-keycover-in-hand

Like other keyboards for the iPad, the KeyCover has a top row of small keys for controlling various aspects of the tablet. The most commonly used are the Lock and Home keys. Sadly, Kensington decided not to put the Cut, Copy, and Paste keys on this row, and instead put them as dual key combinations (Fn-X, Fn-C, Fn-V). There is a unique key to toggle the iPad multitasking carousel on and off, a useful feature.

The Kensington KeyCover is available from major retailers and Kensington for $79.99. There is a Pro model with backlit keys for $99.99.

Pros:

  • Nice aluminum construction
  • Precise fit for iPad Air
  • Decent keyboard

Cons:

  • Viewing angle of iPad Air not adjustable
  • Slightly cramped keyboard
  • Caps Lock indicator not visible during use

Reviewer's rating: 8 out of 10

See related:

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Reviews, Tablets

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3 comments
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  • Con: Lip around the keyboard

    Seriously, that didn't bother you?
    aep528
    • Seriously,no

      There's no lip in the front so no bother.
      JamesKendrick
      • Ha

        I'm a big guy and so I kinda spread out when I sit and work. Looking at that lip I could see it hitting my wrist from the inverted "V" like way I hold my arms/wrist when I type.

        Maybe its something you have to use.
        Rann Xeroxx