This is a chapter excerpt from my newly updated iPad Productivity e-Book. This is not a review per se, but rather a guide with details around the various keyboard options for your iPad.
Chapter 1 – Bluetooth Keyboards
I have been thinking of buying a keyboard for a long time now. I am fairly fast at typing on the iPad but there are still times that I would like to have a physical keyboard…to be able to feel the keys on my fingers. Over the past year I have written half of my blog posts on my iPad using Blogsy and have grown very fond of QuickOffice Pro HD. For these apps a dedicated physical keyboard is much more efficient.
As with all things iPad, the decision on the right keyboard is not an easy one. When I am traveling with the family I generally take my simple and elegant Apple Aluminum keyboard, which works great; but is not as portable as some others. I have seen many people using the Zaggfolio keyboard (picture above) which seems nice enough, but it only has one viewing angle and completely encases the iPad. Call me a design nerd, but sometimes I like the idea of interacting with a non-encased iPad without the trouble of a difficult removal process.
At the other end of the spectrum are the minimal keyboards like the Logictech Ultrathin. Seems cool, but in doing some research it appears that the keyboard only supports one viewing angle and there have been reports that it is not durable enough for people like me.
As you can see, the decision to buy the right keyboard is not an easy one. In fact, there really is no perfect keyboard for all uses and users. This is why the best way to pick a keyboard is to take a look one each of them in person and try them out if possible. Here is a simple mind map I created that lists some of the decision points and tradeoffs of the various keyboard types. This map was largely researched via this excellent post on Macword which can be found here.
The good news is that Best Buy is starting to carry a wide assortment of keyboards and does carry most if not all of the Logitech Options along with the Zaggs. And, what Best Buy does not carry seems to be carried by Brookstone where I have seen many of the Belkins (pictured above) well as some of their Brookstone-branded units.
Another cool keyboard I have run across is the Brydge. This keyboard completed funding on Kickstarter and with a projected delivery date of October 2012. I am not sure how much I like the Brydge yet not having seen or interacted with the keyboard, but I can say that I am very intrigued. It appears to be a cross between clam-shell-like keyboard and the Logictech Ultrathin but without the limitations of each. May be an interesting option if you want the flexibility of multiple viewing angles, portability of a minimalist unit and the convenience of the Apple Smart Cover.
What if you could have a keyboard that is there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t, that didn’t weigh anything nor take up any space when not in use, that was so small that it could stow away on the Apple Smart Cover? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it really isn’t…sort of. What I am describing is the someday to be released TouchFire, yet another KickStarter Project. This “keyboard” is a simple piece of silicone that sits on top of your iPad keyboard and provides just the type of tactile feel that the iPad screen keyboard is missing. I have to say that I love the idea of this product and would surely own one if it was actually available. Read here if you want to learn about why this excellent idea is still in “production”.
Which one did I pick you ask? Well, I am close to making and decision and the finalist is the Logitech Solarfolio. I have played with it at Best Buy and I feel it is a nice combination of portability, smooth key function and excellent flexibility. The potential deal closer for me is the the ability for the iPad to be propped up without using the keyboard for old-school tablet viewing.