By Steve Woodfield
The Apple iPad has plenty of strengths, but its on-screen keyboard isn’t exactly one of them. It’s a problem with tablets in general, especially if you’re more interested in getting actual work done than sending birds flying through space. For productivity, an external keyboard for your tablet is a must-have. You could opt for a standard add-on Bluetooth keyboard, like Apple’s own $79 Wireless Keyboard, or, even better, get a combination case/stand/keyboard to protect your tablet in transport, and prop it up for video watching.
Keyboard folio cases come in a variety of form factors, ranging from thin and flexible to sturdy and substantial, but the main draw is the good old-fashioned hardware keys. External keyboards not only bring that familiar tactile feel to your tablet, but also free up valuable screen real estate so you can see and do more while typing. These keyboards also include some convenient iPad-specific function keys like Cut, Copy, and Paste, as well as Home and Search keys.
You’ll see that some of these cases are advertised specifically for either the iPad 2 , third-generation iPad, or fourth-generation iPad, but the three tablets are all very close in size.
The ClamCase for the second, third, and fourth-generation iPads will turn your tablet into a veritable laptop, adding protection, a keyboard, and endless options as a stand. It’s the bulkiest and the priciest of the bunch, but also the most versatile.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99.99)
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover will complement the look of your Apple iPad, adding a discrete, yet comfortable Bluetooth keyboard in a slick aluminum package—just don’t expect much protection for your tablet. It’s not really a case in the traditional sense, but for those looking to travel light, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a nice option.
Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case ($99.99)
The Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad combines the sleek, good looks of an aluminum cover-style keyboard with the full-body protection of a traditional folio.
Belkin Keyboard Folio ($99.99)
The Belkin Keyboard Folio protects your iPad, while also providing a physical Bluetooth keyboard. It’s pretty bulky and surprisingly difficult to open and close, but the keyboard itself is quite good, with tons of iPad-specific keys.
Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio ($129.99)
If you don’t mind paying a premium to go green, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad offers an excellent typing experience in a package you’ll never have to worry about keeping charged.
Zagg Zaggfolio ($99.99)
The Zaggfolio iPad keyboard folio doesn’t disappoint, with an attractive, flexible design and a surprisingly comfortable chiclet-style keyboard. Its combination of hard and soft shell materials makes it a good compromise between the sturdy, yet heavy ClamCase and the light, yet flimsy Belkin YourType.
Zagg ZAGGkeys PROplu ($129.99)
The Zagg ZAGGkeys PROplus, with its sleek design and comfortable backlit keyboard, is easily one of the best iPad keyboard accessories you can buy.