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Best iPad Air keyboards (hands on): January 2014

The ultrathin iPad Air is tailor made for a good keyboard. These are the best so far.
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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Top keyboards for the iPad Air

The iPad Air is a writer's dream when paired with a decent keyboard. Quite a few keyboards are available, a testament to the third-party accessory ecosystem given the short time the iPad Air has been available.

The keyboard covers in this collection have been used extensively by the author, and have collectively been used to write thousands of words. All of them meet the three requirements for a good keyboard solution for the iPad Air:

  1. Thin and light — Apple has produced the thinnest and lightest iPad yet in the Air, and it deserves the same in a keyboard.
  2. Good keyboard — It stands to reason that those using a keyboard with the iPad Air want one that is good for touch typing.
  3. Long battery life — Keyboards connect to the iPad Air via Bluetooth, and that means they have a battery inside.

All of the keyboards in this collection are outstanding, and any will serve buyers well. They each have different features and designs so choosing the right one is up to the individual. Multiple views of each is shown on the following pages to help make that decision easier.

Keyboard roundups for other iPad models (including the mini):

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2 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is the thinnest and lightest in this collection. It connects to the iPad Air via a clever magnetic hinge that forms a protective cover for the tablet when closed. 

To use the keyboard you detach the tablet from the cover and place it in the slot above the keyboard. The iPad Air is secured in the slot by a magnetic connection that makes the combination stable during use.

The keyboard is nicely laid out and provides good tactile feedback when keys are pressed. As is the case with all keyboards for the iPad Air, it is not full-sized but close enough for rapid touch typing.

The top row of keys are special control keys for the iPad, including cut, copy, and paste. The screen can be turned off by the lock key and there are media player keys for controlling that function.

It charges via microUSB and lasts about three months on a charge.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a solid accessory that won't disappoint. It's available in retail outlets and from Logitech for $99.99.

Don't miss the full review on ZDNet.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover specs:

  • Dimensions: (L x W x H): 240mm x 169.5mm x 7.3mm, 9.44in x 6.67in x 0.29in
  • Weight: 330g, 0.73lb
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3 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (with iPad Air, side view)

The iPad Air sits in a slot above the keyboard for use. This arrangement only allows for one angle, but it's comfortable.

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Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (keyboard closeup)

The keys are nicely spaced and comfortable for typing. There is good tactile feedback when keys are pressed.

 

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5 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGGkeys Folio

Those wanting protection for both the screen and back of the iPad Air should look at this folio keyboard case. The iPad Air snaps securely into the lid, forming a single unit for both transport and use.

The unique hinge in this case makes it possible to have the iPad Air in a range of viewing angles, one of my favorite features. The smart cover technology turns the iPad Air on/off when the unit is opened/closed.

Those preferring backlit keys will love this keyboard as it offers 7 different colors for the backlighting. Each color has three brightness settings to suit the user's preference.

It charges via microUSB and lasts about three months on a charge.

The ZAGGkeys Folio is available in retail outlets and from ZAGG for $99.99.

Don't miss the full review by James Kendrick of ZDNet.

ZAGGkeys Folio for the iPad Air specs:

  • Length: 6.82 in (173.2 mm)
  • Width: 9.55 in (242.6 mm)
  • Depth: 0.697 in (17.7 mm) closed with iPad
  • Depth: 0.299 in (7.6 mm) keyboard only
  • Weight: 18.87 oz (535 grams)
  • Battery: 950 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer
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6 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGGkeys Folio (keyboard closeup)

The keyboard is very good, with nice key spacing and travel. The backlighing with different colors and brightnesses fits the preferences of any user in any environment.

 

 

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7 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGGkeys Folio (with iPad Air, side view)

The special hinge that connects the iPad Air to the cover is at the very back of the keyboard cover. This allows ZAGG to spread the keyboard over a bigger area than on other keyboards.

 

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8 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGGkeys Cover

Those not needing a case the protects the iPad Air front and back should give this accessory a look. The iPad Air slips in the magnetic hinge, forming a laptop style of operation. Smart cover technology turns the iPad Air on/off when the lid is opened/closed.

The keyboard is just like the one on the ZAGGkeys Folio in the previous slides. The hinge operates the same way, allowing for a range of viewing angles to suit the situation. Like the Folio, the base underneath the keyboard is weighted to provide a stable working environment.

The ZAGGkeys Cover has the same backlit keys as the Folio. It charges via microUSB and lasts about three months on a charge.

This keyboard cover is my favorite for the iPad Air so far. It is available in retail outlets and from ZAGG for $99.99.

The full review by ZDNet is available here.

ZAGGkeys Cover dimensions: 

  • Length: 6.82in (173.2mm) 
  • Width: 9.55in (242.6mm)
  • Depth: 0.299in (7.6mm)
  • Weight: 0.8lbs (368.5gm); (1.8lbs with iPad Air)
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9 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGGkeys Cover (keyboard closeup)

The keys are nicely spaced and comfortable for rapid touch typing.

 

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10 of 10 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGGkeys Cover (with iPad Air, side view)

The unit works like a laptop with the special hinge. Unlike the folio case, this one covers only the iPad Air screen when closed to keep the case as light and thin as possible.

 

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