/>
X

The three top keyboards for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro

The latest iPad is productive when used with a good keyboard. The models covered are the best we've tried.
image.jpg
By James Kendrick on
01-apple-smart-keyboard-open.jpg
1 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Apple Smart Keyboard

When the Smart Keyboard was introduced for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro we were not impressed. That's not the case with the model for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The smaller size and heavier magnets used in the cover by Apple make for a solution that is easier to use.

The Smart Keyboard is much like smart covers that don't have a thin keyboard tucked inside. It works like a typical cover, and the keyboard is ready to open when needed. This keyboard is small, with keys that are sealed in the unit. This construction provides protection from minor spills.

Typing on the keyboard is comfortable as the keys have good travel and spacing. It's not perfect as there is no backlighting for using in poorly lit areas, and there are no keys to control the iPad Pro as found on many competing products.

The Smart Keyboard connects to the iPad Pro via the smart connector. This eliminates the need for a battery in the cover, but it restricts use to a single viewing angle for the iPad Pro of 55 degrees.

Pros:

  • Reasonable typing experience
  • Spill-proof
  • Thin and light

Cons:

  • Single viewing angle for the iPad Pro
  • No backlit keys
  • No iPad control keys

The Smart Keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is $149 from Apple.

02-apple-smart-keyboard-profile.jpg
2 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Apple Smart Keyboard

The Apple Smart Keyboard is thin and light.

03-apple-smart-keyboard-closed.jpg
3 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Apple Smart Keyboard

Easy to carry.

04-slim-book-open.jpg
4 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGG Slim Book 9.7

ZAGG updated the Slim Book keyboard cas for the iPad Pro 9.7 to change the cutouts on the case to allow access to the iPad Pro. There are openings for the camera, volume controls, and microphone.

The Slim Book 9.7 consists of two parts -- the lid where the iPad is inserted and a base keyboard module. The lid covers the back of the tablet and can be lifted out of the hinge in the base module to use the tablet without the keyboard. It is not ruggedized but provides a modest amount of protection for the iPad Pro.

The case uses Bluetooth instead of the iPad's smart connector to connect with the tablet. This means there is a rechargeable battery that must be watched although with a claim of two-years on a charge that's not an issue.

The keyboard base is aluminum with black chiclet keys reminiscent of a MacBook. The keys have a good feel and it is possible to type fast with few typos. There is a top row of keys consisting of iPad control keys that is really handy.

When closed the iPad Pro in the Slim Book is much like a laptop. The black polycarbonate of the case covers the lid and base unit. The lid can be opened to any viewing angle up to 145 degrees so it is comfortable to use in most environments.

Pros:

  • Multiple viewing angles for the iPad Pro
  • Good key travel and spacing
  • iPad can be detached
  • Backlit keys

Cons:

  • Bluetooth, no smart connector capability

The Slim Book can be purchased from ZAGG for $129.99.

05-slim-book-profile.jpg
5 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGG Slim Book 9.7

Multiple viewing angles.

06-slim-book-closed.jpg
6 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

ZAGG Slim Book 9.7

Not heavy.

07-brydge-9-7-open.jpg
7 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Brydge 9.7

The Brydge 9.7 is a keyboard base that is constructed out of a single block of aluminum with two hinges on the rear of the unit. This base comes in the same colors as the iPad Pro, together with the tablet -- which forms the lid of the laptop -- the combo looks like a small MacBook.

The black chiclet keys work like those of good laptop so fast typing is supported and comfortable. There is a row of iPad control keys making it easy to run the tablet while keeping your hands on the keyboard.

The Brydge 9.7 pairs with the iPad Pro with Bluetooth, so there is an integrated battery in the keyboard that must be recharged. This allows moving the iPad to a comfortable viewing angle as desired.

Pros:

  • Multiple viewing angles
  • Aluminum construction -- Matches color with the iPad

Cons:

  • No smart connector support
  • A little heavy

No protection for the iPad, opened or closed. The Brydge 9.7 is available from the company for $149.99.

08-brydge-9-7-profile.jpg
8 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Brydge 9.7

No Smart Connector support

09-brydge-9-7-closed.jpg
9 of 9 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Brydge 9.7

A little heavy but still easy to handle.

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza
img-8825

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza

26 Photos
A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex
img-9792-2

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup
shutterstock-1024665187.jpg

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos
Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup
Asian woman working at a desk in front of a computer and calculator

Related Galleries

Hybrid working, touchscreen MacBook hopes, cybersecurity concerns, and more: ZDNet's tech research roundup

8 Photos
Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup
Person seated at a booth in a cafe looks at their phone and laptop.

Related Galleries

Developer trends, zero-day risks, 5G speeds, and more: Tech research roundup

10 Photos
Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida
ca3b4019-26c5-4ce0-a844-5aac39e2c34b.jpg

Related Galleries

Drive Electric Day: A dizzying array of EVs in sunny Florida

16 Photos