Turn your iPad into a laptop with the KeyCase iPad Folio Deluxe

I went on the road with just an iPad 2 and a bluetooth keyboard. The results are surprising.

Before my last vacation in April, I openly debated about which gadgets to take on vacation with me. In the end I settled on leaving the MacBook at home, and taking the iPad along for the ride.

In retrospect, I'm still happy with my decision, but if I had a KeyCase iPad Folio Deluxe at the time, there would not have been a decision to make.

If you're not familiar with the KeyCase iPad Folio Deluxe, it's basically a bluetooth keyboard, embedded in an iPad case. The end result is a slightly bulky case, but with tremendous functionality.

To be honest, when I first saw someone typing away with a keyboard attached to an iPad, I wondered whether or not it was really of any use. It wasn't until I took mine on the road, sans laptop, that I fully appreciated the power of it.

For my test I wanted to be forced to use the iPad for a day on the road. I made sure that both the bluetooth keyboard and my iPad were fully charged and then set out for a remote work day, with the laptop left behind. The end result was something I hadn't expected. For example, for about the first hour I was still typing away at the glass, and not even using the keyboard. However, once the work day really started, that's when people I was emailing with suddenly wanted me to hop on IM. In addition, other co-workers needed me to take a quick look at a Powerpoint or an Excel spreadsheet.

If you're wondering how I accomplished the above, it took a few different apps.

For Instant Messaging, there's a great free App called IM+. I downloaded it and then setup my Gmail and my Google Apps accounts, and in seconds was IM'ing while working on other projects on the iPad. Thanks to the iPad's ability to multi-task, you can work in one App, and get notified of a message coming in.

For viewing documents, GoodReader came to the rescue, yet again.

As for composing and editing documents, there are plenty of options out there, and recently Matt Miller did a great showdown, so make sure to take a look at that, since there are a number of options to choose from.

Of course, I had my trusty Safari web browser. It's amazing how much of my work day is spent in a browser nowadays.

As for the KeyCase, it stood up to the test. The keyboard was surprisingly responsive, the battery lasted the entire day (rated for 90 hours of uninterrupted work time), and for the most part, I didn't really miss my laptop.

If you're looking to get even more use out of your iPad, look no further than the KeyCase iPad Folio Deluxe with bluetooth keyboard. It's a small price to pay to get more functionality out of your iPad.

One more thing: Mobilefun also let me know that they're in the process of shipping me the new version of the kit, which includes hard keys instead of silicone, and velcro to help hold the iPad 2 into place.

Do you use your iPad as a laptop replacement? If so, share what apps and accessories you use.