An increasing number of iPad cases are transforming Apple’s cutting-edge touchscreen media tablet back into something more like a traditional laptop or netbook by adding a physical keyboard.
This might seem a heresy, reducing the sleek modern device back to the days of shoulder pads and the briefcase.
But the benefits are obvious for the heavy tablet user. Typing on a physical keyboard (connected via Bluetooth) is a lot faster and more comfortable than tapping away on the virtual screen keyboard.
When you don’t need the speed and ergonomic benefits of the real keyboard it’s simple to use the iPad in its normal manner, either in the keyboard case or out on its own as nature intended.
Apple’s £56 iPad Keyboard Dock offers the user a more comfortable typing experience than if he or she used the screen keyboard but it demands a separate carrying case or bag. It also works in portrait mode only, when most of us prefer the standard landscape laptop orientation.
iPad keyboard cases – such as Sena’s Keyboard Folio – integrate a soft silicon Bluetooth keyboard, which is lightweight and pretty resistant to knocks and other physical dangers.
iSound looked at all the available Bluetooth keyboards but wasn’t happy with any of them. It decided that there was no better keyboard for the iPad than Apple’s own £57 Apple Wireless Keyboard.
Apple’s keyboard is certainly a better keyboard than the one in the Keyboard Folio but you still have to store and carry that around in a separate case, as it’s not integrated.
iSound’s solution is simple – build a case that carries and protects both the Apple iPad and the Apple Wireless Keyboard, and offers the best iPad stand options.
The iSound Keyboard Portfolio offers a stand-up landscape Display View that is the most comfortable and ergonomic for typing using the Apple keyboard, created by swinging the outer flap into a crease at the top of the case. (The crease is also a pretty good case handle when carrying it around.)
There’s also a Type View, which is great for more laid back touchscreen use with a nice, firm feel to it.
The iPad will also stand in portrait orientation within this case, although rather awkwardly.
As an iPad case the iSound Keyboard Portfolio is made of genuine leather, hard-backed for extra protection. Its suede interior offers softer protection for the iPad inside.
There’s a pocket for the Apple Wireless Keyboard, and another for your cables.
iSound claims that its Velcro fasteners help avoid wireless signal interference that are a risk with magnetic case closures.
The Sena Keyboard Folio’s leather is softer and more luxurious than that of the grainier iSound Keyboard Portfolio but the latter is just as business smart in its looks.
The Keyboard Portfolio is about 4cm taller than the Sena and most other iPad cases so that it can carry the larger Apple Wireless Keyboard.
It’s a trade-off – to use the best available Bluetooth keyboard the case needs to be larger than the average iPad case. The cable pocket – for a recharging cord or the Apple Camera Connection Kit, for example – is especially handy, and ignored in most other cases.
The Apple Wireless Keyboard is also bulkier, although not hugely noticeably heavier than the third-party silicon Bluetooth keyboards favoured by other keyboard-case manufacturers.
Another advantage of using the Apple keyboard is that you can also use it with your desktop-bound Mac when not travelling with only your iPad.
The iSound Keyboard Portfolio iPad case is available in black, brown and red.
iSound currently doesn't have UK distribution but hopes to soon. For UK and EU Distribution inquiries, contact Moris Mirzadeh at [email protected]
The average iPad user isn’t going want to carry a proper keyboard around with them but those of us who consider the iPad a workable alternative to the professional laptop will appreciate the comfort and performance gained away from the screen keyboard. The iSound Keyboard Portfolio ignores lesser Bluetooth keyboards for Apple’s own superior model. It’s a little larger and heavier as a result but represents an overall best-in-class experience.