Seven best iPad Air keyboards (hands on): June 2014

Seven best iPad Air keyboards (hands on): June 2014

Summary: The iPad is making its way into the workplace in ever greater numbers. A good keyboard can make the difference between a mediocre work experience and a good one. These are the best keyboards for the iPad Air we've tried.

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  • 7 Best iPad Air Keyboards

    The vibrant accessory ecosystem for the iPad means a large number of keyboard accessories guarantee lots of choices for iPad Air owners. Adding the right keyboard to the iPad Air can open it up to a wide range of work functions, especially with the arrival of Office for iPad.

    The keys to building a good keyboard for the iPad are:

    Large keys

    Key spacing

    Good viewing angle for the iPad when propped in the keyboard

    All the keyboards in this collection connect to the iPad Air over Bluetooth, and are rechargeable via an included USB-microUSB cable. Run-time is typically several months on a single charge, and all of the keyboards go into standby mode after several minutes of inactivity.

    Most of the cases come in one of two forms: a simple cover that attaches to the iPad Air and has a keyboard on one side, and a folio style. The folios are typically a little heavier than the cover style cases, and offer protection for the iPad Air front and back, while the covers only protect the screen when closed.

    We've used dozens of keyboards since the original iPad was introduced. This experience gives us a rounded view of which keyboards make the grade and which fail.

    The keyboard/cases in this collection are the best we've tried so far for the iPad Air. Each keyboard is shown in three poses to give a good idea of what buyers can expect. Links to the full reviews on ZDNet are provided where available.

    The pricing provided for each case is the MSRP at time of publication. Most of these accessories can be purchased cheaper online and in some big box retail stores.

  • Anker TC930 Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover

    The Anker is not the best keyboard in this collection but it is by far the best value. It has a unique stand to prop up the iPad Air when the tablet is inserted in the slot above the keyboard.

    Typing on the Anker is a solid experience, although the keys are a little cramped. The row of iPad control keys now common on keyboard accessories is missing. These controls are instead accessed by hitting the Fn key in combination with one of the number keys.

    What makes the Anker worthy of the best list is the value. The cover is almost as good as some of the pricier big-name models, yet can currently be purchased from Amazon for $30. 

    Anker TC930 Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air specs:

    • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches
    • Weight: 11.6 ounces

    The Anker keyboard can be purchased at the time of publication for $29.99 from Amazon.

    Don't miss the full review of the Anker TC930 Ultra-thin Keyboard Cover on ZDNet.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Bring Your Own Device

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7 comments
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  • No Mousing in iOS

    I know that when people compare a Windows 8 laptop with touch to a MBP without touch, the common retort from the Mac apologist is that who wants to touch their notebook screen and its pointless, etc.

    Well if you're turning your tablet into a laptop by adding a keyboard, same comment. I actually find myself using touch on a W8 laptop all the time but not 100% of the time because most of the time a mouse is just a better input method when working in spreadsheets and other detailed work.

    There is no reason for iOS not to have mousing as it can be added in with jailbroken devices. This just reminds me of the whole one button mouse BS that Jobs inflicted on Macs for years till finally giving in to a second button. Its pointless.
    Rann Xeroxx
    • Here's the problem with your argument

      All the people who criticize Windows 8 requiring touch in a laptop are NOT calling for the iPad to become a laptop. They are the people who state that tablets and laptops are used differently and thus should have different interfaces.
      baggins_z
  • Driving a Square Peg in a Round Hole

    I know you are expecting this reply, so here it comes - why do folks keep on insisting on driving the square peg (iPad Air) into the round hole (laptop compatibility). After a weekend love affair, I have found the new Surface Pro 3 does it all with flair. I've carried MacBook Air, iPad Air with ZAGG cover, ThinkPad Tablet 2 with keyboard, and a host of other convertible solutions; NONE hold a candle to the Surface Pro 3. Even if that is not your cup of tea, how is the iPad + keyboard better than the MacBook Air 11"? Before you say it - NO, it is not because you can still use it as a tablet, because if that is the case, then back to the Surface Pro 3 or any number of convertibles/hybrids. If you really love the iPad Air, and I know you do, then fine. But why keep encouraging folks to use a crippled solution?
    dksmidtx
    • Encourage?

      I make it a personal policy to not encourage anyone to do or use anything in particular. I didn't here, either, just listed the best accessories for those interested. Obviously you aren't so no big deal.
      JamesKendrick
    • Why do you feel the urge to tell people

      that your solution is the only solution?
      baggins_z
      • Perhaps for Balance

        Because so many tech writers and commenters seem to think iPad is the only solution?
        dksmidtx
  • I have to agree with dksmidtx.

    I am not even using a Surface 3. I have the original Surface Pro. The type and touch covers, even on my older Surface, are the same size and feel as my MacBook Pro. Comparatively speaking I have found typing on those keyboards cited in this article much less satisfying than the experience I get from the Surface. I did spend a bit more for mine, $109, but its quality is excellent.
    The Heretic