If you are a working professional who requires a laptop on a day-to-day basis, you know that a good bag or backpack that fits your work environment is absolutely essential. Somewhere between 90-95% of my job is performed between my laptop, iPhone, and iPad Pro, so having a reliable bag that can hold all my gear and stand up to some wear and gear is absolutely essential. I have been through many such bags over the years, and have built up a solid collection that meet various needs. However, when it comes time to take your show on the road, the requirements change, and for those who travel often, they may be different enough to require a completely different approach.
Several years ago, before I ever got my first iPad-specific keyboard case (the Logitech Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard by ZAGG for the iPad 2), I purchased an Apple Wireless Keyboard to see what it would be like not having to type on the screen of my original iPad. Even though it was a little awkward to carry around with what was supposed to be a mobile device, I still absolutely loved this keyboard. The layout and key spacing were perfect. The action felt good and the keys were responsive. The battery life was great, even if it ran off of actual batteries. It worked very well for me at the time.
It’s struck me recently that I haven’t really heard of any other iPad Pro keyboards that might the dominance of the Smart Keyboard. I’m still pretty happy with my Smart Keyboard, but it would also be nice to have a viable third party alternative by this point in time.
Logitech’s Create Pro is still around and offers a more stable platform for lap typing, but at 2.5 lbs. for the keyboard alone, it’s just too darn heavy to be an everyday carry option for me. The same goes for the newly announced Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case, which promises tactile and clicky keys and a hinge to prop the iPad up at different angles. Typing with a mechanical keyboard would be loud, but it also sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the Razer is also out of the question for my daily carry becuase it brings the total weight to 4 lbs.
The only other iPad Pro keyboard I know of is the ZAGG Slim Book, which mimics a MacBook’s clamshell design. Unfortunately it still doubles the weight of the device to a total of 3 lbs.
Given that software keyboards are still buggy as hell, I’ve really had the chance to put the Logitech Ultrathin to use full time, and the conclusion in my iPad Ultrathin review still holds true for me.
The battery has never died on me, and I only remember having charged it once in the last eight weeks. The rubber feet are still sticking nicely to the bottom of the case, which is a good sign of overall durability. There’s really no downside to using this particular case with my Air 2, even though it’s technically designed for the original iPad Air. Most of all, the keys are still a delight to use. They’re springy, responsive, and very comfortable in continued use.
The only thing I still want changed at this point would be a sort of auto-wake switch in the form of a pressure sensor or a magnet. Credit really goes to Belkin for inclusion of that feature in many of their keyboard cases, and it has me hooked. Undocking the iPad from the keyboard and having Bluetooth automatically disconnect just feels like magic. It’s a great piece of smart design that makes the keyboard work for me, instead of forcing me to conform to the keyboard. If Logitech could add that feature to the next version of the Ultrathin, I think this would be a real 10/10 design.
My boss recently got our entire team a set of Evernote Moleskine notebooks to enhance our note-taking and info sharing practices. I’m not usually one for carrying paper around because I prefer to keep my notes digital (and therefore searchable), but now that I’m handling larger projects, I’m finding a hybrid system of typed notes and handwritten diagrams also works really well. After years and years of using exclusively digital notes, I’m ready to give analog tech a try.
That’s why I find the Booqpad for iPad Air, a folio hybrid that includes a 50-page pad of paper, such an interesting product. I reviewed the first version of the Booqpad years ago, but I didn’t really like it because it was missing any ability to position the iPad in different viewing modes. The Booqpad for iPad Air takes a much more modular approach. The Air is placed in a plastic back cover, which adds protection and a set of magnets that can cling to the rest of the case. The folio portion of the case is completely detachable, right down to the 50-page pad of paper. This gives you the flexibility of being able to carry around an iPad and paper pad around in one package, while still allowing you to lift the iPad right off the table, as if it were a standalone device.
The Booqpad for iPad Air looks like a really sleek and clever take on an iPad folio, and it doesn’t break the bank either. It’s $60 up front, and $10 for a 3-pack of paper refills.
I wouldn’t have heard about this latest update to the Logitech Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-on Keyboard Cover for iPad Air if it weren’t for Tools and Toys. The premise is still the same: it’s an aluminum cover that matches the iPad, with a nearly full-sized Bluetooth keyboard on the interior. It’s not a case you’ll take around for protection, but rather a sleek all-in-one typing package for writers on the go.
The new hotness comes in the form of a new tilting iPad dock that enables flexible viewing angles, and a terribly clever hidden magnetic latch. Previous versions of the cover had the magnetic latch hang loose while not in use, as it does on the iPad’s Smart Cover, but this latest version feels like something pulled out of a Tesla Model S. The latch is there when you need it as a cover, but tucks back into the body of the keyboard while you type (check out the Logitech website for a preview).
That said, previous versions of the Ultrathin are now on sale as a result. They used to retail for $100, but they’re now on Amazon for about $70.
Logitech has been my go-to keyboard company for iPads for a while now, but the Belkin QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case I just learned about (via iClarified) looks like a really cool alternative to the popular Logitech Ultrathin. The QODE still latches on to the front of an iPad Air via magnets, but it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve:
- an all-aluminum design to match the Air (in silver or slate grey)
- a weight sensor that turns the keyboard on or off, depending on whether the iPad is docked
- an angled keyboard, which is likely a little more comfortable for typing
I don’t think the QODE is revolutionary by any means, but it’s an interesting iteration on a category of $99 super-thin keyboards that haven’t really seen much innovation over the last few years. The QODE reviews I’ve seen on Amazon.com have been pretty positive thus far, and people are even singing the praises of the metal keys (which I’m still on the fence about). Of all the iPad keyboards I know off from ZAGG, Logitech, and Belkin, this is the one I’d be most interested in checking out.
TwelveSouth, makes of premium Apple-only accessories, recently announced their SurfacePad for iPad mini. It’s a svelte Napa leather cover that adds very little to the iPad’s dimensions, while offering scratch protection, the texture of actual leather, and the convenience of a few built-in stands. The magnets hidden in the front of the SurfacePad act just like a Smart Cover for sleep/wake action, and the kickstand and magnets hidden along the rear panel help prop the iPad up in two viewing angles, and one typing angle. I also like how TwelveSouth made the cover rigid, allowing you to fold it behind the iPad and hold it easily. That addresses one of my pet peeves with the Apple Smart Cover: the fact that the three (or four) panel design can often hang limply underneath the iPad during use.
I previously reviewed the SurfacePad for iPhone and was quite pleased with it, so I’m glad that TwelveSouth decided to adapt the idea for the iPad. In fact, I think the overall design is a much better fit for the tablet, as the cover will likely be heavy enough to stay closed at all times (instead of occasionally swinging open, as it did on the iPhone 4S). Having several viewing and typing angles is fairly standard in the iPad accessory field, but what’s impressive about the SurfacePad is that it does all of this while keeping a very low profile.
TwelveSouth released the $70 iPad mini edition first, but I do plan on reviewing the version for the Air when it comes out in a few weeks. In the mean time, do take a look at TwelveSouth’s terribly slick product page.
Pad & Quill are having a Back to School sale this weekend, with free domestic shipping on all their products from today through Sunday – and reduced shipping for international orders.
The folks at Pad & Quill have also been kind enough to provide a 10% off coupon code for iPad Insight readers. Pad & Quill are the makers of lovely handmade (in the USA) cases for the iPad, iPhone, MacBook Air and more cool devices.
I reviewed their Graduate Edition case for the new iPad last month and found it to be an excellent case all round. I’ve got a few other Pad & Quill cases I’ve been trying out and they’re all equally impressive.
If you’re after an elegant and effective new case for your iPad or one of your other Apple devices, you may want to give the P&Q sale a look. It has already started – and here’s the coupon code to use for 10% off:
Happy case shopping.
If you’re a fan of the Apple Smart Cover for the iPad 2, or cases that support the smart cover’s automatic sleep/wake function, then you may be interested in one of two new cases on offer from Marware.
The Marware MicroShell Folio iPad 2 Case is a replacement for the smart cover that offers a very similar approach to the front cover but in a full case that also provides protection for the back of the iPad.
The Marware MicroShell iPad 2 Case is a shell for the back of the iPad 2 only, intended to work in tandem with the Apple smart cover.
Both of them look good, and I’ve had nothing but positive results with Marware cases for both the original iPad and the iPad 2 – see my recent reviews of their C.E.O. Hybrid iPad 2 Case and Eco-Flip iPad 2 Case for my thoughts on two of the better iPad 2 cases I’ve seen thus far.
If you’re in need of real rugged protection for your iPad 2, then you should be happy to hear that the Otterbox iPad 2 Defender Series case is now available. Otterbox are the masters when it comes to above and beyond, hard as nails protection for iOS (and many other mobile) devices.
The new iPad 2 Defender Series is part of their most rugged line of cases, that are built to withstand ‘just about any environment’. It’s got a shock-absorbing silicone skin and an inner polycarbonate shell with a foam interior that provides scratch protection for the back of the iPad 2. It allows for full access to all the iPad’s functionality while in the case, and has a clip-on cover for the iPad screen that doubles up as fold-out stand. It’s also 20% lighter than the version for the original iPad – which of course goes well with the lighter, thinner iPad 2 itself.
The case offers protection against bumps, shocks, drops, and ‘dust intrusion’; it is not waterproof and does not protect against liquid damage.
I’ve used an Otterbox Defender with my iPhone 4. I found it surprisingly light and also found it surprisingly easy to use the iPhone just like normal while still having such heavy-duty protection. While my iPhone may come along when we’re out on a beach or at the lake, I don’t ever expose my iPad to any higher risk environments – so the Defender Series is not on my list of iPad 2 cases to get.
For those of you who use your iPad 2 in rough work (or play) environments,this is likely to be a very good case option for you to look at. They go for $89.95 and you can check out all the details and place orders at the Otterbox page for the iPad 2 Defender Series.