Key up to get more out of your iPad
DIGITAL Life takes a look at some keyboard covers and cases that not only protect your device, but also increase the number of ways you can use it.
ZAGG ZAGGKEYS FOLIO FOR iPAD AIR:
THIS cover is the priciest of those reviewed here, but it ticks every box on the list of what you would want from an iPad Air keyboard case.
This folio case has a Bluetooth keyboard cover and a plastic back case, which protects both the front and back of your iPad Air. The smooth exterior is made of faux leather but gives a good grip.
When the cover is closed, the device is only 17.7mm thick. The connecting hinge allows you to adjust the viewing angle incrementally, all the way to 135 degrees.
The full-sized keyboard means you do not need to relearn key positions. I hardly made a typo while using it.
The keyboard has an additional row of Function keys at the top - a Home button and a Lock button, as well as Siri and volume controls. Usually, to access these functions, you would need to hold down a Function key and one other key.
Furthermore, the keyboard is backlit, which makes it great to use while you are on a long-haul flight and the plane cabin is in sleep mode. There is a dedicated button to activate the backlight and you can even change the colour of the light.
The cover's major downside is that it is rather heavy at 535g. Add the iPad Air and the whole combo tops the 1kg mark.
Also, this keyboard works with the tablet only in landscape orientation.
Despite these slight drawbacks, the ZAGGkeys Folio is the best iPad Air keyboard case on the market. That is why it has been voted Editor's Choice by Digital Life.
MOSHI VERSAKEYBOARD FOR iPAD AIR:
ONE major downside of owning an iPad keyboard case is that you can lose a foldable cover. But the Moshi VersaKeyboard offers a great solution.
It has an origami-inspired foldable front cover that supports the iPad Air's auto wake and sleep functions. On its plastic back is a slot for storing the detachable Bluetooth keyboard. Thus, you get the best of both worlds.
Insert your iPad Air into the back case, and you can fold the front cover back to read an e-book. You can also place your tablet in either portrait or landscape orientation using the foldable cover.
When you need to do some word processing, just slide out the keyboard and type away.
The detachable keyboard is slightly smaller than most iPad Air keyboards. However, the keys are well laid out. Additional iOS controls, such as volume and cut-and-paste, are combined with the number keys and activated using the Function button.
Overall, I made few errors typing on the keyboard. But it is lacking in tactile response and the experience feels rather flat.
The keyboard adds 380g of carrying weight and doubles the thickness of your iPad Air. Even so, the overall weight comes to less than 860g, which can still be lugged around easily.
If you do not mind the lack of a tactile response or having to slide out a keyboard, the VersaKeyboard is close to ideal for the iPad Air.
LOGITECH ULTRATHIN KEYBOARD FOLIO FOR iPAD MINI:
THIS folio case protects both the front and back of your iPad mini. Its rubberised exterior prevents slippage, while the front and rear flaps are thick enough to protect the tablet from scratches and bumps.
The case is only 19.3mm thick and weighs 285g. Case and device combined come to 626g.
The case supports the iPad mini's auto wake and sleep functions. On the reverse of its front flap is a Bluetooth keyboard. You dock the tablet by sliding it into the two corner clips of the rear flap. The case fits both generations of iPad minis.
To use the keyboard, open the rear flap and dock the tablet onto a magnetic strip above the keyboard.
There is only one docking angle and it is set at nearly 80 degrees. I found it to be quite uncomfortable as I had to slouch to view the screen.
Even so, the keys give a nice tactile response and are well laid out. I made very few mistakes while typing.
However, it is a bit irritating having to press the Function key and "Q" for Tab, as the Tab and "Q" are combined in one key.
If you can get used to this quirk and the peculiar viewing angle, this case could be the one for you.
BELKIN FASTFIT KEYBOARD CASE FOR iPAD MINI:
THIS case works more like a cover. Like the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio, it supports the iPad mini's auto wake and sleep functions.
Just 7mm thick, it weighs only 145g, which makes it the lightest of the items reviewed here.
FastFit's magnetic clip is larger than the Apple Smart Cover's. While it is able to attach itself to your iPad mini easily, the magnetic pull is not very strong and it tends to slip off easily.
The exterior of the case is a silvery aluminium. Inside, the keyboard has a matte black finish that does not attract fingerprints or smudges, unlike the glossy surfaces on many other cases.
The keyboard is not backlit. You dock your iPad mini on the magnetic groove behind the keyboard. The best thing about this case is that although the viewing angle is fixed, it is set at a comfortable 60 degrees. Many iPad mini keyboard cases that I have tested sit the tablet at 70 or 80 degrees, making it difficult to view.
The keyboard is slightly cramped, so you could make some typos along the way.
And even though the keyboard layout is mostly logical, there are some quirks. For example, the Pair key is sited in the position usually occupied by the Delete key. Naturally, I kept hitting the Pair key instead of the Delete key, which is located just below it.
This keyboard case is great for careful users, and also for those who do not care if their iPad mini shows scratches.