Adding a keyboard to your iPad makes it a much more effective productivity tool -- you get all the benefits of its portability and battery life, while text input becomes a breeze and you can get some real work done. This week, we're looking at five of the best iPad keyboards, based on your nominations.
Photo by Michael Sheehan
Pricing for most of these keyboard/case combos varies, so shop around. We've quoted representative Australian pricing.
Zagg Folio ($125)
The Zagg Folio is a combination keyboard, cover and case that's slim, trim and fits the iPad perfectly. You can adjust the screen's angle to fit your position thanks to the built-in stand, and the built-in keyboard isn't so thick and heavy that it becomes a pain to carry around. The built-in battery offers months of use between charges. The keys have solid give and are comfortable to use, and there are iPad specific keys for searching, music playback and returning to the home screen. The keyboard is detachable if you know you won't need it, giving you an even slimmer case.
Perhaps the thinnest external keyboard for the iPad, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a combination cover, stand and keyboard. It only protects the front of your iPad when the cover is attached, but it connects like Apple's own Smart Cover. When you're ready to work, you can take it off, prop your iPad up in it, and work on the Bluetooth keyboard without adding much thickness to the base at all. It boasts six months battery life (based on two hours use per da.) The keyboard features iPad-specific keys for search, copy/paste and music playback, and is available in a variety of colours (white/black/red).
Logitech Tablet Keyboard ($50)
The Logitech Tablet Keyboard is just that -- a keyboard with a protective case that doubles as an iPad stand so you can prop up your tablet while you work on the keyboard. The Tablet Keyboard has all the expected features: iPad-specific keys for common functions, Bluetooth connectivity, and support for landscape and portrait mode. It's a little thicker than some of the other models in this roundup, and eschews a rechargeable battery in favour four AAAs. It's purely the keyboard -- no fancy case or cover with this one. If you already have a case but want a keyboard to work with, it's a great, more affordable option.
The Brydge ($165-$225)
The Brydge isn't your typical plastic or pleather iPad case. The entry-level Brydge model is made of solid black polycarbonate, but the original product, now called the Brydge+, is constructed from anodised aluminium and offers serious, sturdy protection. The Brydge's clamp completely secures your iPad to the cover without damaging it. Another feature that makes the Brydge+ stand out is the fact that the case includes Bluetooth speakers that pair along with the keyboard, letting you listen to music. The rechargable battery will last months, but using the speakers will drain it faster. All three models feature full hinges and double as covers, and when you're ready to work you can set them up and adjust the screen angle to your liking. The polycarbonate Brydge will set you back $165, while the aluminium Brydge+ without speakers costs $185. The full Brydge+ with speakers is pricier at $225.
Launching shortly after the original iPad, the ClamCase has earned a dedicated following since. It's a full-body iPad case, stand and cover, and includes a Bluetooth keyboard with a rechargeable battery. Your iPad nestles inside the top of the ClamCase for full protection, and the polycarbonate body keeps it safe from scratches. It sets up in seconds, and the hinge is fully adjustable. The keyboard has full scissor keys, and includes 14 special function keys for common functions. If you don't want to use the keyboard, the hinge folds all the way back into a stand, and works in portrait mode as well. The original ClamCase will set you back $US149 for any iPad model, while the new brushed aluminium ClamCase Pro is $US169. An iPad Mini model is also in the works.
This week's honourable mention goes to the Apple Wireless Keyboard, which is a popular choice but isn't designed purely with iPad usage in mind. For people who already own the keyboard for use with their Mac, it's a popular choice.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Hit your keyboard of choice and tell us in the comments.