I bought the Belkin YourType Folio + Keyboard for my iPad last month, before leaving for my holiday travels. So far, I love it. I’d been wanting a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad to help out with occasional typing-intensive tasks like email and also writing libretto translations into my scores using forScore.
I knew I wanted a combination folio/keyboard package so that it would be convenient to carry my iPad around a conference and take notes, and also for bringing my iPad when I travel, in lieu of my heavier and power-hungrier laptop or netbook, to do tasks related to my techie day job. I wanted a keyboard folio with the following characteristics:
- Slim and lightweight
- Full-size keys (or close to it) that feel similar to a real keyboard
- Case protects the back of the iPad
- Detachable keyboard
- Easy to insert and remove iPad from the folio (since I don’t actually use it as my primary case, it’s mostly for conferences/travel)
- Folio can be used as a regular case without the keyboard
- Adjustable viewing angle
- I can rest the folio comfortably and securely on my lap for typing (as with a laptop)
- iPad can be used in landscape or portrait orientation
The YourType Folio + Keyboard meets all of these criteria, save the last. The whole package is not much thicker than a paperback book:
I like the keyboard a lot. The keys are nearly full-size and have a nice feel and travel to them, yet the keyboard is quite compact, not much bigger than a paperback book:
And quite a bit thinner than one:
As is shown in the above photos, the keyboard is detachable from the folio case, and that’s how I use it most of the time – as a stand-alone keyboard.
At home, I keep the keyboard within arm’s reach so I can grab it for an email typing session. It’s also slender enough that I can tuck it into the side pocket of my other case that I use when I’m out-and-about or going to rehearsal:
The keyboard attaches to the folio by means of velcro strips sewn into the folio. I added a few more adhesive velcro strips to secure the keyboard in different positions when I adjust the viewing angle:
At some point, I may also cut some pieces from a magnet sheet and glue them to the folio and keyboard in strategic places to turn it into a smart cover.
The Belkin YourType Folio + Keyboard does have some design flaws, which are also mentioned in its Amazon product reviews. The magnetic flap for closing the case is weak (I added a strip of heavy-duty velcro to fix this). When the folio is closed, the keys rest against the iPad screen. It hasn’t been a problem for me since I have a protective film on the screen, but others have complained about it. I do have a square of microfiber cloth that I sometimes slip into the case before shutting it, to give the screen added protection. And occasionally, when the folio is closed, the iPad gets pushed against the “screen off” or “slideshow” key, causing the iPad to wake up and run its battery down. That hasn’t happened too often, but it’s annoying. All I can do is either turn off the iPad or put it into airplane mode and minimum screen brightness before storing it in the folio case for long periods, to preserve the battery in case the iPad wakes up. Finally, the iPad can sometimes flop over from its upright position when I’m resting the case on my lap and typing. I’m thinking of adding more strategic velcro to mitigate this.
The Belkin folio works well for me, but if you have different preferences, there are quite a few other iPad keyboard cases out there – below are some examples. For starters, here’s a photo from Hugh S. at Going Digital for Musicians where he uses his Adonit Writer Plus Bluetooth keyboard case as an impromptu piano rack:
Logitech has a couple of nice models and ZAGG has a whole impressive lineup of keyboard cases – I’ve shown a few of them below, but they have a comparison chart listing all of their models.
And of course, if you just need the Bluetooth keyboard, there are plenty out there as well.