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.
But I agree with what Ben Brooks said about most iPad Pro keyboards: they’re just set up to make it better as a desktop machine. However, I’ve yet to see another keyboard design that really embraces the idea of the iPad Pro as a mobile work machine. A keyboard that’s still relatively light, but can prop the iPad up at a few different angles.
The design that comes to mind is Belkin’s QODE Ultimate Pro, which is named after a mouthful of marketing, but is actually a very well-designed Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard came with a plastic back plate to protect the iPad Air 2, and it magnetically fastened the iPad to the keyboard in landscape and portrait orientations. This was a lot of flexibility to have in just one accessory, and I’d love to have something similar for the iPad Pro.
What I’d want from a new keyboard would be a full row of function keys, since iOS 10 still hasn’t delivered on keyboard shortcuts for volume or brightness. I still really miss this functionality, even after 9 months of owning this larger iPad.
I’d also want something that tries to maintain the thinness and lightness of the iPad Pro. Metal lends a sense of higher build quality to a product, but maybe the best iPad keyboard has to go the way of the Smart Keyboard and embrace another type of design, in order to best suit this work tablet. I chose this device for a specific reason: so it would fit in any of my bags alongside my camera, lunch, and work laptop. Having a thicker and heavier devices completely changes the equation in my daily carry.
Lastly, I’d love to find a way to improve the “lapability” of the device when the iPad is sat on my lap. The Smart Keyboard is perfect on a desk, but still feels too wobbly and insecure if you don’t have a flat surface to place it on. The tablet can tilt a little too far back for comfortable viewing, or it can flop forward onto your lap if you lift it too high on your knees.
It’s not that I’m miserable working on the iPad Pro right now. Rather, I’m surprised that Apple’s biggest, baddest tablet isn’t seeing more third-party support this many months into its release. Is it just that sales volumes aren’t high enough, or is there some other design challenge I’m missing here?