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Top keyboards for the iPad Air and iPad mini

The iPad Air and iPad mini are capable tablets, but sometimes you want a keyboard to get the most out of them. These are the best of the lot.
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By James Kendrick, Rest in Peace on
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Top keyboards for the iPad Air and iPad mini

Put the iPad Air into a good keyboard case and you have a capable system for writing lots of text. Most cases protect the expensive iPad, and add a keyboard that handles the fastest touch typists.

There are folio style cases that protect both sides of the iPad, and covers that protect only the screen when closed. The style choice depends on personal preference, and how thick a package is acceptable.

All keyboards in this collection made the top list after using them for a while. Only an impressive hands-on experience is worthy of the top list. 

Online resources were checked at the time of publication to find the best price for each keyboard. There are some surprising online deals for some keyboards, one for only $25. The most expensive keyboard here is $169.

The iPad mini paired with the right keyboard can also be good for writing in spite of its small size. After using the keyboards in this collection over time, they have earned the designation of top keyboards.

The keyboard cases in this collection are presented in no particular order.

See related:

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Anker TC930 Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover

This keyboard is similar to other ultra-thin covers, consisting of a simple slab with a keyboard on one side. It attaches to the iPad Air magnetically and detaches for use. The tablet sits in a slot above the keyboard at a fixed viewing angle.

The keyboard is quite good and the cover is very thin and light. It gets six months on a charge which is double the battery life of most keyboards.

It is surprising how good this cover is given its cheap price of only $36. That’s significantly cheaper than most keyboards.

Anker TC930 Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air specs:

  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.9 x 0.3 inches
  • Weight: 11.6 ounces

It is available from Amazon at the time of publication for $35.99.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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Anker TC930 Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover

Keyboard closeup

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ClamCase Pro

This case basically turns the iPad Air into a little laptop. The tablet snaps into the lid which is attached to a keyboard base that is made of aluminum like the MacBooks.

The keyboard is the best of all the units in this collection and using it is just like using a laptop. The palm rest in front of the keyboard makes typing very comfortable.

Hardware specs of the ClamCase Pro for the iPad Air:

  • Dimensions: 7.30 x 9.74 x 0.75 inches
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs
  • Battery: 100 hours usage, 6 months standby, 120 minutes charge time

The unique laptop hinge can be rotated a full 360 degrees and can be used in stand mode and tablet mode with the keyboard rotated under the iPad. The hinge supports various viewing angles in laptop mode.

The ClamCase Pro is expensive at $169 but is worth the price.

See the full review on ZDNet.

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ClamCase Pro

Like a laptop

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Belkin QODE ThinType keyboard

Those wanting the thinnest and lightest keyboard for the iPad Air need look no further than this one from Belkin. The QODE ThinType is thinner than the iPad Air and weighs only ounces.

It attaches to the iPad Air magnetically and detaches for use. The tablet sits in a slot above the keyboard and only supports a single viewing angle.

The keyboard is good and makes rapid typing possible.

It is available from Belkin for $99.99.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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Belkin QODE ThinType keyboard

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ZAGGkeys Folio

This case for the iPad Air is a long-time favorite. It protects the iPad Air in a light form that has a unique laptop-like hinge. This supports a wide range of viewing angles.

The keyboard is quite good and handles rapid touch typing. It is one of the few keyboards available with backlighting for those who find this important. The user can select the color of the backlighting and toggle among three different brightness levels.

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

The ZAGGkeys Folio is available from Amazon at the time of publication for $64.

Check out the full review on ZDNet.

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ZAGGkeys Folio

Backlighting has seven selectable colors, each at three brightness levels.

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ZAGGkeys Cover

This cover has the same good keyboard as the ZAGGkeys Folio previously appearing in this collection. It is a simple cover for those wanting to keep things light and simple, yet has the same laptop hinge as the Folio.

This hinge supports variable viewing angles, making this the most versatile cover style keyboard.

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)

The keyboard is backlit, and offers selectable colors for the backlighting.

The ZAGGkeys Cover is available from Amazon at the time of publication for $64.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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ZAGGkeys Cover

Backlighting has seven selectable colors, each at three brightness levels.

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Kensington KeyFolio Pro

Those wanting a full case made of soft leather should check out this case. Opening the case reveals the iPad Air on one side and the keyboard on the other.

The magnetic strips that hold the iPad Air in place for typing allows three viewing angles.

The keyboard is removable from the case for leaving behind when not needed. It also supports using the keyboard away from the tablet to work in any environment.

The KeyFolio is available from Amazon without backlighting for $40. A backlit model is on Amazon for $66 at the time of publication.

See the full review on ZDNet.

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Kensington KeyFolio Pro

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Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

This was one of the first keyboards for the iPad and has improved over time. It is a simple cover with a keyboard on one side. Like all cover style keyboards, this protects only the screen of the iPad Air.

The cover attaches to the iPad Air via a magnetic hinge, and detaches for use. The tablet is inserted in the slot behind the keyboard for use. It supports only a single viewing angle.

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

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is available at the time of publication from Logitech for $99.99.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

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Kensington Keycover

This is another cover for the iPad Air. It is very similar to the Logitech Ultrathin Cover and operates the same.

The keyboard works well and handles the fastest touch typist.

The power switch and LED indicators are oddly located behind the slot for the iPad Air. They are not visible while using the case with the tablet in place as a result. This is a minor quibble, but it shouldn’t be this way. It is a fine keyboard cover otherwise.

The Kensington Keycover is available from Amazon at the time of publication for $45. Oddly, there is a backlit version on Amazon at this time for only $25.

Check out the full review on ZDNet.

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Kensington Keycover

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ZAGGkeys Cover for iPad mini

Like its bigger sibling for the iPad Air, the ZAGGkeys Cover works well with the iPad mini. It features the same hinge that turns the little iPad into a tiny laptop.

The keyboard is well designed for such a small size, with nearly full-sized keys. It is possible to touch type on the ZAGGkeys Cover for the iPad mini as a result. It is backlit, with multiple colors and brightnesses to choose from on the fly.

The ZAGGkeys Cover for the iPad mini is available from Amazon for $60.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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ZAGGkeys Cover for iPad mini

Backlit keyboard

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ZAGGkeys Folio for iPad mini

This case is like the Cover from ZAGG in this collection, but in a folio form. It totally protects the iPad mini for transport. The special hinge functions like a laptop for use in variable viewing angles.

The backlit keyboard is the same as the one in the ZAGGkeys Folio for the iPad mini. It supports rapid touch typing given the nearly full-sized keys, and the use of the layout for decent key spacing in spite of the small size.

The ZAGGkeys Folio for the iPad mini is available from Amazon for $66 at the time of publication.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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ZAGGkeys Folio for iPad mini

The keyboard is backlit.

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Rugged Folio for iPad mini

Those working in rugged environments can take the iPad mini confidently in this ruggedized keyboard case. The Rugged Folio completely protects the iPad mini without being too bulky.

It features the same laptop style hinge as other cases from ZAGG in this collection, but has the ability to detach the iPad mini. The tablet remains in the protective lid which can be popped off the keyboard due to a magnetic attachment. The keyboard can be left behind when not needed.

The ZAGG Rugged Folio for the iPad mini is available from ZAGG for $140.

See the full review on ZDNet.

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Rugged Folio for iPad mini

The keyboard is detachable for using the iPad mini as a tablet.

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Logitech Keyboard Folio Mini

Those preferring a thin folio style keyboard case for the iPad mini should have a look at the Logitech Keyboard Folio Mini. It is barely larger than the iPad mini yet has a good keyboard with chiclet keys that works well.

In addition to using the case in a laptop mode, the iPad mini can be folded over the keyboard for use as a tablet. This works very well without adding a lot of bulk to the little tablet.

The Logitech Keyboard Folio Mini is available from Logitech for $99.99.

Don’t miss the full review on ZDNet.

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Logitech Keyboard Folio Mini

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