iPad iPad Air keyboard cover roundup--all fatally flawed?

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
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Anyone have some hidden gems to add to my research? Here are the keyboard covers (not cases) I've found for iPad Air so far. Some great features to be had... but sadly, they all have some deal-breakers! (Amazon reviews have been a major info source.) The original Logitech Ultrathin for iPad 2/3/4 was great--no deal-breakers--but nothing for the Air seems to reach that standard yet.

So the quest goes on...


Belkin QODE Thin Type

Good: style, super thin, 6th row of function keys, full-size numbers, mic key, keyboard auto-on/off

Bad: quote, apostrophe, question mark and slash keys moved to odd locations (often-used keys)


Logitech Ultrathin

Good: style, close color match for space gray, previous model well-received, holds closed well? (not all competitors use magnets when closed)

Bad: magnets in stand-up slot are badly designed (in the Air version specifically)--make the case plastic peel up off the metal base (and hold the iPad too weakly as well); too easy to break at that spot

(Note: I've read very strong claims, both that Logitech HAS recently tweaked the Air cover design to fix these issues, and that they have NOT. I'd love confirmation either way. Of course, even so, old units could still be in the channel to buy.)


ZAGGKeys Cover

Good: thin, backlight available, biggest keys, 6th row of function keys, full-size numbers, mic key, adjustable angle (Lenovo-style flexibility)

Bad: takes a lot of force to get iPad in and out or change to portrait--causes scratches; easy to tip backward especially in portrait


Anker TC930

Good: price, keyboard auto-on/off

Bad: slightly smaller keys than others, weird pop-up stand instead of simple slot, silver doesn't match space gray, feels cheap--questionable longevity


SHARKK Ultrathin

Good: price, backlight available

Bad: slightly smaller keys than others, silver doesn't match space gray, feels cheap--questionable longevity


Any better options? I want a cover: maximum portability in my existing sleeve, and easy attach-remove[/] because I will use it less than half the time. Mainly as a keyboard/stand by my sofa, and I want to grab the iPad off the stand easily. And I demand a normal key layout! I really wish the Belkin had that. Or that the ZAGGKeys didn't grab the iPad in a damaging way that needs two hands to remove. Both of those look terrific otherwise. Right now I use a separate, non-attached/non-cover portable keyboard (Verbatim folding)... but it's awkward to carry and doesn't work that great; key layout is a bit off and key feel is quite poor.

The Logitech sounds best, but only IF they revise the initial (Air-specific) cover design to make it work more like their Ultrathin for previous iPads--and not break so easily.
 
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bobr68

macrumors newbie
Jan 3, 2014
7
0
I'm using the NewTrent Airbender 2.0....it provides protection on the back and can be detached to use as a tablet too....my second choice was the Zagg cover but it didn't offer protection on the back but liked the keyboard
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,551
1,186
Thanks for the additional cover options.

Just out recently are two new higher end options that could be good, pending reviews:

Re-designed Logitech Ultrathin (now with tilt):
http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/ultrathin-air

Long-awaited Belkin Qode Thintype (super thin):
http://amzn.com/B00JUOCLEA

I wouldn't mind seeing prices come down--but I'm willing to pay more for top-end key feel and durabilty... if that combination exists!
 

eg2007

macrumors 6502
May 23, 2007
336
3
Thanks for the additional cover options.

Just out recently are two new higher end options that could be good, pending reviews:

Re-designed Logitech Ultrathin (now with tilt):
http://www.logitech.com/en-us/product/ultrathin-air

Long-awaited Belkin Qode Thintype (super thin):
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JUOCLEA/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

I wouldn't mind seeing prices come down--but I'm willing to pay more for top-end key feel and durabilty... if that combination exists!
I just picked up the new Logitech Ultrathin at Best Buy. Guess they have an early exclusive or something. It's great. Thinner than the last versiona and the keys are nicer. Also, it can be tilted back at various angles. I may retire my Zaggkeys Cover to Ebay!
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,551
1,186
I just picked up the new Logitech Ultrathin at Best Buy. Guess they have an early exclusive or something. It's great. Thinner than the last versiona and the keys are nicer. Also, it can be tilted back at various angles. I may retire my Zaggkeys Cover to Ebay!
Awesome! That's my favorite option (I think) since the new Qode Thintype has weird key placement. (Why must they?? I like how that one turns the keyboard--not just the iPad--on and off automatically. No switch.)

Thanks for the report. Questions about the tilt, if you have a moment:

1. Does the tilt mechanism seem tough and durable? I know it will take a lot of repeated use, and a lot of leverage from finger-presses.

2. Does the tilt mechanism tilt back easily just from tapping the screen, so that it's hard to use the iPad if you don't want it tilted back?

3. Can you use the iPad in portrait mode, not tilted back? (I'm guessing yes... if you tap lightly?)

4. Can you use the iPad in portrait mode if it IS tilted back? (I'm guessing not--it would tip over easily?)
 

Mr. Zarniwoop

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2005
738
127
ZAGGKeys Cover

Good: thin, backlight available, biggest keys, 6th row of function keys, full-size numbers, mic key, adjustable angle (Lenovo-style flexibility)

Bad: takes a lot of force to get iPad in and out or change to portrait--causes scratches; easy to tip backward especially in portrait
I have this and really quite like it. I don't know what you mean by taking a lot of force to get it in and out, I routinely pop it in and out to replace with an Apple Smart Cover. No scratches in the two months I've been using it? Also don't know what you mean by easy to tip backward? It stays with whatever tilt I need, although it won't lay flat if you're looking for that.

My only real complaint is that every now and then, it feels like it misses a keystroke. I've had this happen with a real Apple bluetooth keyboard though, so I wonder if it's something with my iPad Air or iOS in general.

It's not quite as thin as the Logitech, although very close, but does "feel" better to me. I've not seen the QNODE in person but I know the key layout would irk me.

The backlighting is why I bought this keyboard. Highly useful at night.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
Original poster
May 2, 2002
12,551
1,186
I have this and really quite like it. I don't know what you mean by taking a lot of force to get it in and out, I routinely pop it in and out to replace with an Apple Smart Cover. No scratches in the two months I've been using it? Also don't know what you mean by easy to tip backward? It stays with whatever tilt I need, although it won't lay flat if you're looking for that.

My only real complaint is that every now and then, it feels like it misses a keystroke. I've had this happen with a real Apple bluetooth keyboard though, so I wonder if it's something with my iPad Air or iOS in general.

It's not quite as thin as the Logitech, although very close, but does "feel" better to me. I've not seen the QNODE in person but I know the key layout would irk me.

The backlighting is why I bought this keyboard. Highly useful at night.
Good to hear! The backlight is really nice for sure. Even color-adjustable.

By tipping I mean wobbling back (not falling over completely) when you push on the screen--especially at the top of the screen, and especially in portrait/vertical orientation. Such as swiping down the Notification Center in portrait. So the hinge may not budge from that, but the front edge of the keyboard would hop up as the whole unit wobbles back together--if you don't touch carefully/lightly enough. (But I'd assume they made it heavier than other keyboard covers, to help counter that possibility.)

Some have found it fits really tight in the "grips," so maybe some units shipped tighter than yours.

Although I might just prefer the more common Logitech/etc. "slot" style--which uses so little force, it would let me grab the iPad away from the keyboard with one hand and maybe a little juggle/shake. (Either to use it alone, or change it between my usual portrait mode and video-ready landscape mode.) I think I would want to do that a lot, the same way I now constantly grab the iPad off of the easel stand where I keep it propped up. The Zagg "grips" wouldn't fit that use case as well.

(P.S. Belkin just this week released a new video--which I suddenly can no longer find on YouTube--of a woman giving a tour of the Qode ThinType cover. It shows the keys are indeed in switched-around positions. Too bad--that one is aluminum unibody and looks really rugged.)
 
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Mr. Zarniwoop

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2005
738
127
By tipping I mean wobbling back (not falling over completely) when you push on the screen--especially at the top of the screen, and especially in portrait/vertical orientation. Such as swiping down the Notification Center in portrait. So the hinge may not budge from that, but the front edge of the keyboard would hop up as the whole unit wobbles back together--if you don't touch carefully/lightly enough. (But I'd assume they made it heavier than other keyboard covers, to help counter that possibility.)

[...]

Although I might just prefer the more common Logitech/etc. "slot" style--which uses so little force, it would let me grab the iPad away from the keyboard with one hand and maybe a little juggle/shake. (Either to use it alone, or change it between my usual portrait mode and video-ready landscape mode.) I think I would want to do that a lot, the same way I now constantly grab the iPad off of the easel stand where I keep it propped up. The Zagg "grips" wouldn't fit that use case as well.
Understand the tipping now. The Zagg really makes the iPad+keyboard into a baby laptop/netbook. It's a light keyboard, I wouldn't say it feels weighted, and right now as I push on my MacBook Air's screen, the MBA's keyboard on my lap moves just like the iPad+Zagg keyboard moves with similar force.

It's definitely not a single-handed grab-and-go to remove the iPad from the Zagg keyboard, but it comes out reasonably easily. I have found it easiest to "close" the iPad+keyboard, and then slide the iPad out. I can remove it while it's propped "open", but it's a little more awkward.

If you're looking for that "grab-and-go" the Zagg isn't it. If you're looking for a laptop-like experience, the Zagg is pretty much exactly that.
 

zhenya

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2005
6,401
2,863
I agree with this assessment of the Zagg - I would not consider it wobbly at all compared to the Logitech (which is constantly at risk of falling out unless you use it on a flat, stable surface). While I too don't use a keyboard that much with my iPad, when I do, I really like the fact that the Zagg turns it into a tiny netbook with full screen tilt, the ability to pick the device up as a single unit, etc. The fact that it takes a few extra seconds to assemble is well worth the fact that it becomes a single solid device when you do so.

I also really like the lighted keys and the fact that the keys don't extend all the way to the bottom edge of the keyboard.

I too have a few lost keystrokes however, and did not with the Logitech, so that's a strike against Zagg.
 

Zmanbaseball2

macrumors 68040
Aug 24, 2012
3,523
10
New York, USA
Most bluetooth keyboards I have reviewed (over 10) all have a small backspace button and that really annoys me. The backspace button is the smallest button on the keyboard. Also iOS turns off auto correct when a bluetooth keyboard is connected. Even the first letter of a new sentence is not capitalized.
 

Saturn1217

macrumors 6502a
Apr 28, 2008
974
232
Have you tried this keyboard? It costs less than many of the others which makes me worried about quality but the keyboard layout looks perfect and it seems very minimalist and light weight. I may try this out and if I do I'll try to report back.

It is the SPARIN aluminum keyboard cover for iPad:

http://www.amazon.com/Bluetooth-Wireless-Keyboard-Generation-Aluminum/dp/B00GD7D6O6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Ok so I finally got around to purchasing this, mainly because this keyboard had a good keyboard layout and it was only $25 instead of $100.

I just received the keyboard in the mail and I'm actually typing this post using the keyboard. I just wanted to give a brief review for anyone interested in a light weight iPad Air cover that costs less than $50.

Of course you get what you pay for, but I will say considering the fact that this keyboard is 1/4 the price of the other keyboard covers it isn't that bad. The keyboard is VERY light and thin. The magnet connecting the keyboard to the ipad is strong! It didn't come with much in the way of instructions but after a few minutes of randomly pressing buttons I was able to get it to connect. I will also note that when you close the cover over the ipad the display automatically goes to sleep.

As for build quality of an admittedly cheap case. Well some things are good. The back of the case is made of aluminum not plastic. But there aren't any rubber feet to protect the aluminum from the surface that you set the case on. I thought this might bother me but so far it doesn't. For some reason the aluminum just isn't that slippery. The key layout is excellent. The keys are a bit small but they are all exactly where they are supposed to be and you don't have to press fn to get to ipad shortcut keys. They have their own dedicated row and most of them work great (there are a few special function keys that I don't know what they do). I also like that the material between the keys is all this nice soft touch plastic. I don't think there will be an issue with the ipad screen touching the keys when closed.

However the quality of the actual keyboard is just passable. The keys are a bit mushy. Not too bad except for the space bar which is more mushy and doesn't always work (which is annoying). If I end up returning this keyboard it will be because I can't deal with the spacebar.

Other thoughts: the iPad sits in its groove very securely. I'm actually using this on my lap right now, not on a desk and it is working quite well.

Thus far I am thinking that if the spacebar doesn't drive me crazy I will keep it just to see how useful a keyboard can be with the iPad. If you already know that you will be using a keyboard with the iPad a lot then I would recommend a more high quality option. But if you are desperate for a deal I think this keyboard would do.
 

Nhwhazup

macrumors 68020
Sep 2, 2010
2,493
764
New Hampshire
I purchased the Zaggkeys cover and really like it - everything about it, except that it gives me a ton of double keystrokes. I don't know if it's a problem with my unit or inherent to this model keyboard. I'm going to return it today to Best Buy and actually bring in my iPad to try another one out. If I still have the problem, then maybe I'll try the Logitech Ultra thin.