Last year I did a keyboard shootout on the fullsize iPad Keyboard. The winner was a ZAGG keyboard (rebadged by Logitech). That keyboard has been fantastic -- I can type on it just as quickly as I can on my laptop, allowing me to bring my iPad + keyboard to meetings and be super productive. (Click here for a related post on hyper productivity on the laptop).
As the iPad get smaller, I realized it was time for me to do a new review, this time with smaller keyboards made for the iPad Mini.
These keyboards are only 7" inches across, not 9" like the fullsize iPad keyboard, and I was curious to see what losing 23% of the keyboard space would do for my productivity. Since I haven't yet purchased an iPad Mini (waiting for Retina display!), I used the fullsize iPad to run the tests, which was fine since I was just focused on the speed and usability of the keyboards.
I tested four different keyboards:
Amazon's Poetic 7" keyboard ($29.99 -- value winner)
The ZAGG 7 keyboard ($89.99 -- overall winner)
The ZAGG 9 keyboard ($89.99)
The Sharkk 7" keyboard ($32)
The way I ran these tests was by benchmarking how long it took me to write the following block of text on each keyboard:
This is a keyboard test for the iPad Mini. Let's see how quickly I can type these words. Today is 2/13/13. I am going to copy this last sentence and then paste it in. I am going to copy this last sentence and then paste it in.
To write that block of text successfully, I had to be able to bold text, to copy & paste text, type numbers, and access special characters like / and '. I first conducted the test using the fullsize Logitech keyboard that won the fullsize iPad challenge. I was able to complete that test in 36.5 seconds, setting the standard for the mini keyboards to beat.
Here's a video showing the setup and benchmarking:
The ZAGG 7 and 9 keyboards are similar, with one exception: The 7 is two inches narrower than the 9. I was able to complete the benchmark text in almost exactly the same time using the ZAGG 9 keyboard as the fullsize Logitech keyboard -- 37 seconds vs. 36.5, which makes sense because the ZAGG 9 is the exact same keyboard as the Logitech, just re-badged. On my first try, I was able to do the text on the ZAGG 7 in 1:26, or about 3x slower than the ZAGG 9. At that speed, I would pick the ZAGG 9, even though it's bulkier. But with just 5 minutes of practice, i was able to complete the text in 0:47 using the ZAGG 7 (picture above), so I'm confident that with a bit of use I could achieve almost as much efficiency on the ZAGG 7 as the ZAGG 9, so I'm calling it the overall winner of the contest. Here's the ZAGG product link (just select 7 or 9 in the dropdown), and here's a video:
Value Award: 2:26 for Amazon's Poetic Generic Brand Keyboard
It seems that Amazon has created a generic no-name brand keyboard for the iPad mini. Strangely, I ordered two that had different names but were exactly the same (The other one was called the QQ-Tech). I wouldn't recommend this keyboard if you're looking for speed -- it took me 2:26 to complete the text, and it was painful. That's almost 5 times longer than with the benchmark keyboard. However, if you're super price sensitive (or another way to say it -- if you value your dollars more than the efficiency loss you'll experience with this keyboard) then you might consider it. Here's a video:
And now, the worst: 3:54 for the Sharkk Keyboard (save your money)
I wouldn't recommend this keyboard on my worst enemy. It was unusable, taking me eight times as long to stumble through the text block -- and even then I couldn't fully complete it because the keyboard is missing copy & paste keys. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can watch the video: