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Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for Kindle Fire HDX 8.9: Much improved

This keyboard for the latest tablet from Amazon is much improved over the model we reviewed earlier this year. It's worth a second look by those looking for a reasonable keyboard solution for the Kindle Fire HDX.
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1 of 6 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

In a review of the Belkin QODE Keyboard Case for the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 I thoroughly panned it due to shoddy construction. One of the magnets that holds the Kindle in the typing position fell off shortly after unboxing the QODE, a problem reported by a number of owners.

Belkin sent me a replacement shortly after the review was published and told me they were addressing the problem with the magnets. I've been using the replacement for a few months and it's worth a new review.

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While quick to pan a product that deserves it, I also give credit where it's due. The replacement unit has worked flawlessly and it's clear Belkin has addressed the original issue. There were many positive aspects of the QODE that were overshadowed by the shoddy construction of the original unit, and those shine now that the problem has been rectified by Belkin.

The Belkin QODE Keyboard Case is a thin portfolio that protects both the front and back of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. It has a Bluetooth keyboard on one side and a tray for the Kindle on the other. There are cutouts for all of the tablet controls.

It's difficult at first to remove the Kindle from the case but with practice it gets easier. I actually leave the Kindle in the QODE most of the time as I can fold the tablet over the keyboard for use as a tablet, a nice touch.

Setting up the QODE is as simple as turning it on via the little power switch on the right side of the keyboard and hitting the Pair key to connect to the Kindle. The tablet can be set in either of two slots above the keyboard, which provides two viewing angles for the tablet. The infamous magnets hold the Kindle Fire HDX firmly in the slots.

Unfortunately, there is no smart cover technology in the Belkin QODE Keyboard Case so opening/closing the case doesn't turn the Kindle on/off. To save battery, it's necessary to either hit the power button on the back of the Kindle or hit the Lock key on the top row of the keyboard. There is an elastic strap that holds the case closed during transport, similar to those found on the Moleskine notebooks.

The keyboard

As a writer, for me it's all about the keyboard. Belkin has done a decent job with this one and rapid touch typing is supported. With the exception one key in particular, most keys are where touch typists expect them to be.

There is a dedicated row of control keys for the Kindle that is welcome, as opposed to some keyboards that require the hitting the Fn key to access such controls. These controls include a Back key, cut, copy, and paste keys, and media player controls. There's a nice big Home key on the front row that comes in handy.

Given the size of the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 the keyboard is small, but with a little practice rapid touch typing is possible. The keys that Belkin has moved due to the small size of the keyboard takes some getting used to. The major key that's been moved is the semicolon, and due to its relocation it's common to hit the Enter key when reaching for the apostrophe.

Summary

The Belkin QODE Keyboard Case is a thin, light portfolio that is custom made for the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. The small keyboard can handle fast touch typing, even for those with large hands. It protects the tablet and is easy to handle.

The two viewing angles are a welcome design choice as it makes it comfortable to use in most any environment. The ability to slide the Kindle Fire HDX over the keyboard for use as a tablet is very useful.

Pros:

  • Protects the Kindle Fire HDX
  • Decent keyboard
  • Supports use as a tablet in the case

Cons:

  • Some keys not where you expect them
  • No smart cover technology
  • Hard to remove tablet from case

After using it for a few months, it's clear that he Belkin QODE Keyboard Case is the best option for the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 at the time of this writing. With the exception of the minor quibbles mentioned, it performs well and is a good addition to the gear bag for those needing to occasionally type on the Kindle. It is available from Belkin for $89.99.

Reviewer's rating: 8 out of 10

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2 of 6 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Belkin QODE Keyboard Case side view

There are two viewing angles supported.

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3 of 6 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Belkin QODE Keyboard Case tablet use

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4 of 6 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Belkin QODE Keyboard Case closeup

Note the colon/semicolon key is moved to the bottom of the keyboard.

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5 of 6 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Belkin QODE Keyboard Case closed side view

The case is covered with material that provides a secure grip.

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6 of 6 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Belkin QODE Keyboard Case closed

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