Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Poor design at a price

Keyboards are a dime a dozen for the iPad, but there aren't many for the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. I bought one of the few, made by accessory giant Belkin, and it's compromised from top to bottom.

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a fine tablet for consuming content, and Amazon has integrated some features designed to also make it a viable work solution. The final piece of the enterprise puzzle is a good physical keyboard. The Belkin QODE Keyboard Case should turn the tablet from Amazon into a good work tool, but fails.

Belkin QODE side view
Belkin QODE Keyboard Case Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 snaps into the lid of the Belkin case. The promotional information on Amazon (where I purchased the QODE) indicates the tablet is held in the lid magnetically, which is how the Amazon Origami Case works, but that doesn't seem to be the case. While easy to snap the Kindle into the Belkin case, it is incredibly difficult to remove for use as a tablet. The lip of the Belkin lid fits the tablet far too snugly for easy removal, something that isn't necessary if it was held magnetically as indicated.

The Belkin QODE case also fails as a smart cover. While most tablet cases turn the device on/off when opened/closed, the QODE does not. Battery life of the tablet is compromised when the case is closed as the device keeps running. It's important to turn the tablet off when closing it to put it away. The lack of magnetic closure is addressed by Belkin by attaching a clumsy elastic strap to hold the case closed; otherwise it has a gap when closed.

The Kindle Fire HDX can be propped in two different viewing angles for use with the Belkin keyboard. This is handy, except Belkin cut corners in the manufacturing process that is downright shoddy. The tablet is held on the case by magnets, but rather than embed the magnets in the QODE lid, Belkin cut costs by gluing thin magnets on the lid.

Belkin QODE magnet problem
Belkin QODE Keyboard Case shoddy build quality Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

One of the magnets pulled off the case (see image above) only an hour into the use of the QODE. Online research shows this is a common problem for QODE owners, and thus a design/build flaw. Belkin must be aware of this problem and should stop selling them until it fixes the case. You can superglue the magnets back in place but again, that's unacceptable for a $90 case.

The keyboard works well for typing as is common with Belkin keyboards for other tablets. That pales in comparison with the design flaws in this keyboard, however.

The QODE charges via a microUSB cable that is included. It should last several months on a charge like most Bluetooth tablet keyboards. There is no way I can find to check the battery level, a terrible omission for a battery powered device.

This review of the Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is short compared to the dozens of keyboard reviews for other tablets I have done. It's such a terrible design, and so poorly executed, that I strongly recommend those considering buying one to not make the same mistake I did.

Reviewers rating: 3 out of 10

See also:

Best iPad Air keyboards (hands on): January 2014