Review: Belkin QODE Slim Style for iPad Air 2

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I’ve previously reviewed the QODE Ultimate and the QODE ThinType, and although I still had a few issues with each of those designs, there were some great stand-out features like the pressure sensor on the ThinType, and the magnetic auto-disconnect on the QODE Ultimate. In contrast, the QODE Slim Style for iPad Air 2, which I just received for review last week, is a little more vanilla in its approach.

This Slim Style looks a lot like your standard folio case: it’s got a hard shell for protecting the iPad in your bag, and you can prop the tablet up at a desk or on your lap for typing. The instruction pamphlet does a poor job of telling you how to actually put your iPad into the case, though. I went through a bit of trial and error before I realized I had to slide the iPad into two of the corners and then pry the other two corners back, one at a time, until the iPad was sitting very snugly in place. I’m not a fan of this method of securing the iPad because it doesn’t feel intuitive or user friendly.

Belkin Qode Slim Style for iPad Air 2

Solid Typing Experience

One great thing this case does have going for it is its stability. The Logitech Ultrathin I was using before is great for typing at a desk, but I worried about the iPad falling right off the keyboard while typing on my lap. This Slim Style, on the other hand, is rock solid, and downright comfortable to use, even when you can’t find space to write at a desk. The magnet used to lock the iPad in place is actually quite large, so it props the iPad up a little higher than normal, which makes it look like it’s floating above the keyboard.

The keyboard itself is also better than the keyboard from my Logitech Ultrathin. Although the keyboard module is about the same thickness as Logitech’s, the keys on the Slim Style are noticeably clickier. There’s a good amount of travel and rebound on the keys, so it’s very easy to type quickly. Thin keyboards can feel sticky when they’re not done right, but this Belkin Slim Style nails a satisfying touch typing experience. I can easily switch from this keyboard to my MacBook Pro’s keyboard without skipping a beat.

Belkin Qode Slim Style for iPad Air 1

Connectivity Issues

The multiple pairing feature of this Slim Style opens up one interesting set of possibilities for working alongside my Mac. There are two separate pairing profiles available on this keyboard, so I used one for my iPad, and set the other one up with my Mac. Switching between the profiles is just a matter of using the ‘Fn’ key alongside the ‘+’ key or backspace key.

Quick switching between profiles worked well on OS X, but I found the Slim Style unreliable for re-pairing with my iPad (or even my iPhone). There were numerous times that the keyboard simply would not reconnect to the iPad, and so I’d have to go into iOS settings to manually “Forget This Device”, and then pair the iPad with the Slim Style from scratch. A quick Internet search showed that I’m not alone in having this problem.

Having reviewed several Belkin keyboards before this — and never having any connection problems with any of them — I’m surprised at how unstable the Slim Style’s connection can be, especially given its $100 price point. A Bluetooth connection has to be reliable, otherwise a user is better off with using a $40 Smart Cover and built-in software keyboards.

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Missed Opportunity

The other call-out feature on the Slim Style is its extra set of magnets to hold the iPad flat flat over the keyboard. It’s a good idea, but it’s not executed very well. The keyboard isn’t intelligent enough to turn off when you pull the iPad down, so you can try and browse the web in this setup, but you won’t be able to type anything because the software keyboard locks itself when a Bluetooth keyboard is connected. The whole device also more than doubles the weight and triples the thickness of the iPad Air 2, so it’s not easy to hold in one hand for very long.

Adding a smart magnetic sensor (as is present in the QODE Ultimate) would have made pulling the iPad over the keyboard a much more practical feature.

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Conclusion

I don’t like writing negative reviews because I’d rather celebrate good design than point and frown at problematic products, but the Belkin Slim Style just doesn’t have a lot to offer given its price point and feature set. I found this keyboard uncomfortable to install, too large and heavy to justifiably be called “slim”, and the connectivity issues really tipped the scale for me. I’d be willing to revisit this keyboard with the next iOS 8 update (in case the connectivity problems are an iOS 8.1.2 issue), but as it stands now, I cannot recommend buying Belkin’s Slim Style — you’d be much better served buying the QODE Ultimate or QODE ThinType.

The Belkin QODE Slim Style was provided by the iPR Group for review on iPad Insight. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 


Thomas

My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

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