The iPad is a tablet first and foremost but with a good keyboard can be used for heavy content creation. That requires a good physical keyboard and the six covered in this article are the cream of the crop.
Most of the keyboards covered here serve as a case for the iPad, while only one does not. There are also two keyboards that turn the iPad into a MacBook Air clone for those really wanting a laptop instead of the tablet that works like one.
Owners of the iPad mini aren't overlooked with the inclusion of a great keyboard/case for the littlest iPad.
This keyboard doesn't protect the entire iPad like most cases but it does protect the vulnerable screen. It is the thinnest and lightest model in this collection and adds little bulk to the gear bag.
The keyboard is nearly full-sized like all of the models included here, and is a solid accessory for the iPad. There are control keys for the iPad to make common functions a simple key tap away.
The Ultrathin attaches to the iPad via a magnetic hinge, similar to the Smart Cover by Apple.
All of the keyboards in this collection connect to the iPad via Bluetooth, and all but one of them are charged via a miniUSB cable (included).
Here's a photo of the Ultrathin with the iPad ready for work. The iPad fits snugly in the slot above the keyboard which holds it magnetically. You can even pick the assembly up by the iPad without it falling out.
The Ultrathin Cover attaches to the iPad via a magnetic hinge which operates like the Apple Smart Cover. The assembly opens like a book and the iPad is snapped away from the cover for use with the keyboard.
For iPad owners preferring a standard folio case, this one is as good as it gets. It's a full portfolio that holds the iPad on one side and the keyboard on the other. What sets this apart from all the other keyboards in this collection is there is no need to ever charge it. There are two solar panels on the case that keep the keyboard charged even via room lightlng.
The keyboard is very good for touch typing. There are two different viewing angles offered by the Solar Folio: the standard typing angle and a special media viewing angle. When the latter is used the iPad covers all of the keyboard with the exception of the bottom row of keys. These become media player controls when used in this manner.
This is the standard typing position provided by the Solar Folio. Special magnetic functionality automatically connects the Folio to the iPad when the tabs are placed in either viewing position.
The iPad turns on and off when the Folio is open and closed, respectively.
This keyboard supports a special viewing angle for watching content on the iPad. In this mode the iPad covers the keyboard as demonstrated in the image above, with the exception of the bottom row of keys. When placed in this position those keys become special media player controls.
This case is one of the earliest available for the iPad when first released, and it has evolved nicely since then. The iPad slides in and out of the case easily.
The keyboard is as good as any of the models in this collection and include the standard iPad control keys on the top row. The Smart Cover technology turns the iPad on/off when opened/closed.
When in the case the iPad is used with the keyboard in landscape orientation like a laptop. It can be used in portriait by sliding it out of the case and propping it in the holding slot.
The ZAGGfolio is ready for use just a few seconds after taking it out of the bag. Open it by pulling on the secure clasp on the front and set the iPad in the slot above the keyboard.
Putting it all away is as easy as pulling the iPad out of the slot and snapping the cover closed. Note that unlike the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover previously covered, the iPad does not magnetically secure in the typing position.
The Flex is the most versatile of all the keyboards in this collection. It is a standalone portable keyboard so it can work with either the iPad or the iPad mini. It also works with Android devices making it a good mobile solution for most popular tablets.
The Flex comes with a case for the keyboard for transport. This case pops open to form a stand that can handle any size tablet. The typing experience of the Flex is as good as it gets.
Here's a photo of the Flex being used with the iPad in landscape. Since the iPad is not attached to the Flex it can easily be used in portrait, as demonstrated in the following slide.
Since the keyboard is standalone, it can be used in any position desired. This makes it the easiest to use on crowded airplanes.
For those wanting the ultimate typing experience on the iPad the ClamCase Pro certainly delivers. It is a full keyboard dock for the iPad that turns it into a MacBook Air clone. It is constructed out of aluminum like the MacBook Air and looks just like a laptop with the iPad inserted.
It's not cheap but operates much like a laptop with a standard laptop keyboard. According to the web site it will be available in March 2013.
Another laptop dock for the iPad is the Brydge which began as a Kickstarter project. The Brydge is now shipping and like the ClamCase in the previous slide it turns the iPad into a full laptop clone.
It has several model available, including two made of aluminum (with and without Bluetooth speakers) and a polycarbonate that is lighter and cheaper.
Owners of the iPad mini needn't feel left out of the keyboard/case world as ZAGG has introduced a couple of them for the littlest iPad.
The Mini 9 case shown uses the same keyboard used in the cases for the larger iPad. The iPad mini snaps securely in the case which completely protects the tablet. The case has a built-in stand for use with the keyboard.
There is also a Mini 7 case from ZAGG that is only slightly bigger than the little iPad mini. Making it that size forces a compromise on the keyboard which is smaller than the Mini 9. The Mini 9 keyboard is comfortable for fast touch typing but the Mini 7 keyboard is likely too small for that purpose.
The Mini 9 has the same Smart Cover technology used in most of the cases in this collection so it turns the iPad mini on/off when opened/closed. The stand pops out of the back of the case to support the iPad mini at a comfortable viewing angle. The keyboard is the same size and quality as that found on all the ZAGG keyboards.
This photo shows a size comparison of the little Mini 9 case (front) for the iPad mini and the Solar Keyboard Folio for the larger iPad.
This photo shows a size comparison of the little Mini 9 case (front) for the iPad mini and the Solar Keyboard Folio for the larger iPad. The two cases are in standard typing position for a good comparison.