iPad Air keyboards: Kensington v Belkin

Document editing and creation on a slate tablet will usually require an add-on keyboard. We examine a pair of leading contenders for Apple's iPad Air.

If you own a tablet and want to do more than consume content, then you're going to need to buy an add-on keyboard. Tapping away at your tablet's on-screen keyboard is fine for emails and short notes, but real productivity requires two things: a keyboard on which you can type quickly; and the ability to see your tablet's full screen while entering text.

Adding a keyboard can transform your thin, light and portable tablet into something significantly bulkier and heavier. Selecting the right keyboard is therefore vital. My top two choices for the iPad Air come from Kensington and Belkin.

Kensington KeyFolio Pro

Images: Kensington

The £99.99 KeyFolio Pro is one of the bulkiest options thanks to its substantial housing for your iPad Air, thick padded shell and solid keyboard. But although the KeyFolio Pro will add weight and girth to your iPad Air, there are significant plus points.

The case affords excellent protection, to the point where I'd feel comfortable simply tossing the iPad into a backpack without a second thought (once it's in the case, obviously). The stand has a little flexibility in screen angle where some other cases are more rigid. Much more importantly, the keyboard itself is both well made and detachable — it's held in place by magnets, and is easily removed.

This means you can put some distance between the keyboard and the iPad, so you don't have to hunch over your work; a detachable keyboard is also helpful if you're working in a group situation, allowing you to put the screen where everyone can see it, while retaining easy access to the keyboard.

The keyboard's build quality is excellent too: keys feel robust, click nicely under the fingers, and there’s a full range of function keys above the number row. I find touch typing is no problem.

Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case

Images: Belkin

The £99.99 QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case takes a different tack in terms of design. The solid shell wraps around your iPad Air, holding it neatly in position and ensuring the sides are fully protected. This is another keyboard case that inspires confidence that the iPad will absorb plenty of knocks in transit.


The keyboard feels a little more cramped than Kensington's unit, and it lacks separate number and function key rows. However, the isolated keys feel responsive and solid, and you might find a use for the dedicated Siri button.

I found touch typing more of a challenge on the Belkin keyboard than I did with the KeyFolio Pro, but there's not much in it; on the plus side, the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is a little slimmer and lighter than Kensington's KeyFolio Pro.