SleeKeys for iPad Air: Turn the onscreen keyboard into a physical one

This thin keyboard hides in the integrated case until needed and then flips out for use.

Onscreen keyboards work fine until iPad Air owners need to do a lot of typing, That's when it's advantageous to have a keyboard with physical keys, especially for touch typists. This new keyboard is designed to step in with real keys when needed, and requires no charging.

(Image: SleekTech)

The SleeKeys keyboard is a thin case for the iPad Air (iPad Air 2 version coming) that has a small keyboard hidden behind the tablet. It operates like any case without a keyboard.

Special Feature

The Year's Best Tech for Work and Play

ZDNet takes a look back at very best tech stories and features of 2014.

Read More

When there's a lot of typing to be done, flip the keyboard around until it rests on the iPad's virtual keyboard. Typing on the SleeKeys physical keys taps the iPad's onscreen keys, with tactile feedback. The keyboard looks a little bulky, but according to the developer it weighs only 3.5 ounces. The keys look to have good travel.

Since the SleeKeys is a manual keyboard, there is no Bluetooth connection requiring a battery. That means no charging is ever required.

When done typing with the SleeKeys, flip it back behind the iPad and it's hidden until the next time it's needed.

The SleeKeys is not cheap at $59.99, but iPad owners who don't need a keyboard that operates apart from the tablet may find this to be just the ticket. The downside is that the SleeKeys and onscreen keyboard takes up screen real estate, while typical keyboards do not.