My requirements may be different than yours. I wanted something that maintains the iPad's slim profile as much as possible, has some element of style to it, and most importantly, allows me to type well -- ideally as well as I can on my 15" Macbook Pro laptop. Additional "nice to haves" were the ability to keep my Apple iPad magnetic screen cover and a good set of function keys on the keyboard. One intriguing keyboard that I didn't test is the TouchFire keyboard concept on Kickstarter, which is a flexible keyboard that interfaces directly with the iPad's on-screen keyboard. When it comes out, I'll give it a shot as well.
I tested five bluetooth iPad keyboards and found one I really liked: The Logitech Keboard Case for the iPad 2. The keyboard is actually one made by ZAGG, with Logitech branding the device. I time-tested all five bluetooth keyboards against the iPad's on-screen keyboard and against the Macbook Pro, by typing a block of text on each device and timing how long it took. The text doesn't make total sense, but I wanted something that required numbers, special characters, and copy/pasting.
First, here's a video of the setup process:
The Winner: Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad2 by ZAGG
This keyboard totally rocks. For me, it's head & shoulders above the other keyboards for several key reasons. Most importantly, the keyboard performed faster than the Macbook Pro keyboard, with my test text coming in at 45 seconds vs. 56 seconds. In fact, it was the fastest keyboard of all the ones I tested. Here's the Amazon link for it.
But importantly (to me, at least), I can keep my Apple magnetic keyboard cover on the iPad. The Logitech case isn't meant to allow the Apple cover to stay on, but it works. It's a bit of a hack -- to accommodate the cover, I have to put the iPad in upside down. That doesn't matter, except that the charge and headphone ports no longer accommodate the iPad. But as you can see in the video, since it's so simple to remove the iPad from the keyboard case, it's no big deal -- and in fact since the cover makes the iPad stick out a tiny bit more from the case, you could still use both with the iPad in the case if you were so inclined.
Being able to keep the Apple cover on the iPad gives me the flexibility to take the case with me when I want it, or leave it when I know I don't want it. There's no level of commitment -- not even a "snapping" of the iPad in & out of the case. This is liberating, although there is a downside: By keeping the Apple cover on, the iPad doesn't fit as snugly into the case, so it'll fall out easily if dropped. Because of this, you don't get the level of protection with this case as you do with others that are more secure. For me the trade off is easy though -- if I were carrying the iPad around without the keyboard case, it would be even more vulnerable, so I'm not losing any protection with this case as compared to having no case. Although I'm not gaining any protection either, I love the flexibility of this solution.
This Logitech case is also one of the few (the ZAGGfolio is the other) that has cut, copy & paste buttons -- something I find to be invaluable in an iPad keyboard. The keys are well spaced out and have a very good tactile feel to them. Overall, this case is a clear winner to me -- so much so that I've already called it my own by putting the Socialize icon sticker on it, as well as the optional low-profile clear rubber feet, as you can see in the video and pictures.
Here's a video of both the on-screen test time and the Logitech keyboard:
Second Place: The ZAGGfolio
The ZAGGfolio is the exact same keyboard as the Logitech Keyboard Case (winner, above), but with a cover that requires a bit more commitment. The iPad has to be slid into it. On the plus side, it does provide more protection to the iPad, although it's also bulkier. This keyboard gets second place because it uses the same fantastic ZAGG keyboard as the winner, with a time result of 51 seconds, also beating my 56 second time on the Macbook Pro. (The iPad's built-in keyboard, by comparison, took 1 minute, 58 seconds to type out the same text). Here's the Amazon link.
Here's a video of the keyboard in action:
Third Place: Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard
This keyboard has an ingenious slide-around design that causes the keyboard to expand into a full-size keyboard. If it weren't so bulky, it would've nailed a top spot in the keyboard shootout. However, due to the mechanics needed to support the slide-around keyboard design, when the iPad is clipped in, it feels as hefty as a laptop, negating the inherent benefits of the iPad. It's too bad because overall, I like the concept and the keyboard itself is great, nabbing a time of 48 seconds in my time tests (second fastest, and faster than the Macbook Pro time of 56 seconds). Here's the Amazon link.
Here's a video of the Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard in Action:
Fourth Place: Adonit Writer for iPad 2
I really wanted to like this keyboard. INC Magazine named it as the top iPad keyboard. And I can see why -- it's beautifully constructed and comes in a very Apple-esque high quality packaged box. You can tell the designers and engineers put a lot of love into its design. And for people with smaller hands, it might be perfect. The build quality was easily tops of the group, but the keyboard spacing made it impossible for me to use effectively. Although the ZAGG keyboards have the same width as the Adonit, the key tactile response couldn't be more night & day. The Adonit keyboard returned the slowest time, at 1 minute, 46 seconds (the iPad's on-screen keyboard wasn't far behind at 1:58). With that kind of poor performance, I'd rather just use the on-screen keyoboard than lug around a secondary keyboard. So big style points for the Adonit keyboard, but very low functionality score. Here's the Amazon link. Here's a video:
Last Place: No-Name Brand Cheap Bluetooth Keyboard
This keyboard is so no-name that not only does it not have a brand, it doesn't even have a proper name. The box says "Mobile Bluetooth Keyboard" but then it has some text that's been marked through with a permanent black marker. It probably said something like "for the iPad" but since it's not being sold for the iPad2, they marked it out. No matter -- it's so much cheaper than all the other keyboards, and it looks good with its aluminum-style finish (can't tell if it's truly aluminum or not -- some people maintain that it's plastic) that if it worked, I'd be all about using it.
In practice though, it was terrible. The design was poor and the tactile response was just awful. Not recommended. It clocked in a dismal time of 1 minute, 37 seconds. Here's the Amazon link (although really, save your money). Here's a video:
Here's a gallery of pics:
MAJOR UPDATE!!! After a few months of using the ZAGG keyboard, I got really frustrated with the permanent way the iPad is encased in the keyboard. While it's great for protecting the iPad, the setup makes it hard to impossible to use the iPad + keyboard on anything but a flat surface (like a table). Typing by resting the keyboard on your knees is completely out of the quesiton. Plus, the whole setup is super bulky. So while the ZAGG keyboard itself is good, I decided to look for a better alternative.
And I'm happy to report that I found a much better option: The Logitech iPad Mini keyboard. It's fantastic. The keyboard itself is actually better than the ZAGG keyboard was. On the ZAGG keyboard I really missed having an "option" key. OPTION+Arrow means you can move word by word (and when you hold shift down, too, it highlights the words as you move). If you're not a keyboard shortcut fanatic like I am then you won't miss this functionality. But if you are, then the ZAGG keyboard will drive you crazy. (For more on keyboard shortcuts and using technology efficiently generally, check out http://go.danielodio.com/instrument).
The Logitech iPad Mini keyboard has its downsides: The iPad is exposed and it'd be easier to damage. However, I'm willing to deal with that in exchange for a much slimmer profile. And, since it's magnetic, the iPad attaches well to it, and it turns on when I open it, and turns off when I close it (another thing the ZAGG keyboard didn't do). I've been using this Logitech keyboard for about a month now, and I absolutely love it.
I was looking at your reviews of the iPad keyboards this morning (I think I'm going to go with the Zagg) and I really like that blue skin on your iPad - I was wondering where I can get one for myself?!
I recently wrote about how I've swapped PowerPoint out for something I call PowerPinch (a term I made up).
When it came time to make a demo video for Socialize, I wondered if I could use PowerPinch to make the video, and then somehow capture what was happening on my iPad. It turns out, you can. Here's the finished video, and below is how I did it.
First, I made the demo video using my PowerPinch process. To learn more about that part, read this blog on PowerPinch.
I recently wrote about how I've swapped PowerPoint out for something I call PowerPinch (a term I made up). When it came time to make a demo video for Socialize, I wondered if I could use PowerPinch to make the video, and then somehow capture what was happening on my iPad. It turns out, you can. Here's the finished video, and below is how I did it. First, I made the demo video using my PowerPinch process. To learn more about that part, read this blog on PowerPinch. Then, I made a script for the video using Google Docs (pic at right). Once I was ready to capture, I bought a BlackMagic H.264 Pro Recorder box from Amazon, an HDMI cable, the HDMI iPad 2 Connector, and a mini USB cable. That's all the hardware I needed to connect my iPad to my Macbook Pro and start recording the content of my iPad screen. The BlackMagic box comes with its own capture software, called Blackmagic Media Express, which was perfectly sufficient for the job. I then read the script into a pair of Logitech USB Headphones and used audio editing program Audacity to splice the audio together the way I wanted it. I imported both the video and the audio into iMovie, and exported an .mp4, which I then uploaded to Vimeo and YouTube. Presto! The video isn't as smooth as I'd like, but for a $500 hardware budget, I'll definitely take it as a v1. It's more polished than anything I could've done without having to whip out AfterEffects. Plus it's kinda cool to have done it on the iPad. If you do have a $5k+ budget to spend, I'd recommend a company like DigitalFlair, which made our AppMakr demo video. I'd love any ideas you have to improve on this v1 -- at some point I'll try making another one based on what I learned from the first go-around. So if you have any thoughts or any questions on how I did it, please leave them in the comments below.
This won't quite be the Apple bashing that people probably expect. To start off, I don't hate Apple. I think that they're a spectacular company that does a lot of very smart things. I think that they build relatively high quality products and do a good job of supporting them.
Even if I don't buy any of their products, I'm glad that Apple is around. They're responsible for pushing forward a lot of technologies that are later adapted and improved on by companies I do buy things from.
I also think that Apple makes the right product for a lot of people, maybe even you. An iPod is probably the right music player for more people than any other music player. The average consumer will probably do better with a Mac laptop than the average PC laptop.