If its been a touch quieter around here this week than usual, please bear with me. I started a new job (within the same company) so I’ve been a bit busier and more distracted than usual. This new gig has also opened me up to meeting new people and being inspired by new office supply goodies.
I was in a meeting when someone whipped out an iPad Mini wrapped up in a traditional black leatherette case. When she opened it up though, it revealed a keyboard! All I could do was stare at it rapturously…”Meeting? What meeting? Must find out more about her iPad Mini case.”
I did get to ask her about the case and it turned out that the keyboard was a removable Bluetooth keyboard held in the case by magnets. The back of the case had a flip out leg to prop up the iPad Mini in the traditional laptop configuration. The fact that the keyboard came out would let the user reconfigure the arrangement for a vertical format when necessary. Quite clever. I did not get manufacturer information from Anna but I was able to commit the design details to memory and establish that she was using the Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 Case and Stand (about $55 on Amazon). reading through the reviews on Amazon, the biggest issue discussed regarding this case is that the hole on the back for the camera is a bit too small and can potentially block the lens.
I went ahead and did a little research and found a few other options as well.The SHARKK Keyboard/Case/Cover/Stand (about $32 on Amazon) is more streamlined being only one piece. When opened, the iPad Mini sits in the slot provided in the keyboard. To close, the keyboard snaps to the face of the iPad Mini. This case is definitely the least bulky option I found. The reviews for the Sharkk focus on the reduced keyboard size and the quality of the materials and construction. As the cheapest option I found, some compromises can be expected.
The other strong contender is the Belkin Wireless Keyboard and Case (about $75 on Amazon). From the description details, I cannot determine if the keyboard can be removed from the case but this is a very elegant, streamlined package. The iPad Mini is held into the case along the spine-edge with plastic clips on the corners but this leaves the other edges, speaker and buttons accesbible. There are some reviews that suggest that some compromises were made in the design including the material feeling more rubbery than leather-like.
Logictech has an Ultrathin Keyboard Case on the horizon but it is only available for pre-order at the moment (at approx. $80) but it sounds like it will also be a good option if you are looking for a better way to type on an iPad Mini.
All-in-all, a keyboard small enough to match the diminutive dimensions of an iPad Mini will require compromises. A full-sized Qwerty keyboard is larger than the device and will not make for a convenient, aesthetic object if your goal is to have the smallest typing machine. Going to a reduced-sized keyboard to match the dimensions of an iPad Mini will make for a small keyboard. If you have large hands, this may be awkward but it begs the question, is it less awkward than trying to type on the virtual keyboard that covers most of your screen real estate? Optimally, I’d rather write with paper and pen but when it comes to email and work documents, sometimes the most efficient option is to work digitally so data can be shared quickly.
Update: It seems that the model case that my friend was using is the Poetic KeyBook Bluetooth Keyboard Case which is also a pleather case like the Kensington but at a lower price (about $30). It is listed to have a magnetic closure that is supposed to automatically turn the iPad Mini on and off but its a little finicky according to reviews. The materials are given praise but the closure is not as secure as other options.
If you have any experience with the devices listed above or one of the many other options available on the market, please leave your recommendations in the comments.