In this article I’m going to look at a key tool that you’ll need to Empower your iPad or make it a real production machine. The iPad originally came out with the concept that it would be a consumption machine allowing you to read books, watch movies, stream video, play games, listen to music and yes do some computing tasks. All the above was to happen with the virtual keypad which is great if you don’t have much to type. If you’re just browsing the net and doing a Google search or entering a calendar event then no you really don’t have a lot to type. However, what’s happened rather quickly is that applications have come along that either replicate or support the Mac‘s applications or applications have been generated on the iPad that are very production oriented, such as the popular Drafts program, that requires you to type a lot.
Typing a lot on the virtual keyboard is an exercise in frustration. Its not really meant for this especially if you’re a touch typist. It‘s great in that it‘s always available but it‘s not great if it‘s the only thing that’s available and your a student sitting in class who’s decided to take his/her notes with their iPad. In this case, you need a true keyboard and fortunately there are a slew of keyboards to choose from but only some are worth their salt (ref: ScreenCastsOnline tutorial).
The Move from the PC to the iPad
A long and in tandem with the growing availability of high quality IOS applications that run on the iPad and for the most part sync to the Mac, there has been a move away from the traditional PC to the iPad as a replacement for those users that don’t require all the computing power of a PC/Mac. These users are not just using their iPad then for just reading things, or watching movies and entering the odd calendar event here and there. Now they are using their iPad to compose substantive emails as they would on their PC/Mac.
The Need for a true Keyboard
Now with the above scenario in which the iPad is taking on the role of both a production device and a consumption device there is an absolute need to Empower Your iPad with a keyboard but not just any old keyboard but rather one that is easy to use, doesn’t add bulk and delivers as close to a Mac or Macbook type typing experience as you can get. The latter qualification is a must for the touch typist.
Two Keyboards to be Reviewed
I’m going to review what was considered the best keyboard on the market till the Belkin Ultimate came along. I’ll look at both the Logitech Ultrathin which I have used for a number of months and the Belkin Ultimate which I only recently got.
Before I bought the Logitech I always used a dedicated Apple keyboard with my iPad 1 and 2 which worked great. However, this was not a Bluetooth enabled keyboard but rather a fixed keyboard in which both devices plugged into it as if it were a docking station except it had a full sized keyboard.
When I got my iPad 4G everything changed. Now, to use it with a keyboard you needed to go Bluetooth. I did a fair bit of research and asked a lot of questions and although the Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard would provide the touch and feel of a portable or Mac keyboard that’s all it provided. It certainly wasn’t something you were going to use with your iPad sitting on your lap.
So in the fall of 2012 the keyboard which was the one that was the most highly recommended and was actually sold in my local Apple store was the Logitech Ultrathin. So I bought it and have been quite happy with it except for one thing. It didn’t have that nice touch typist feel of my MacBook Air or my iMac‘s keyboard.
Why I bought and Have Gone With the Belkin Ultimate
You might be wondering why, if I was happy with my decision to buy the Logitech Ultrathin, I’ve switched to the Belkin Ultimate. The decision to purchase this keyboard boiled down to one key thing and that was it was positioned as the first true touch typing keyboard for the iPad. This caught my attention immediately as I’m a touch typist and I type all day long. Although design wise I was perfectly happy with the Logitech, the idea that this might be a true touch keyboard was enough to order it.
I can honestly assure you its as close as I’ve come if not spot on to a true touch keyboard. I can comfortably type on the keyboard without the strain I was experiencing with the Logitech. The Logitech keyboard has similar spacing to that of the Belkin’s keyboard but the keys are stiff and provide too much friction in my opinion. I found it tiring to type on the Logitech keyboard for extended lengths of time but not so with the Belkin keyboard.
Benefits over and Above What I was Looking For
The Belkin has a few other nice benefits that aren’t there with the Logitech. Although the designs seem similar in a way there’s a significant difference that gives the Belkin a definite heads up. The Logitech is a light weight and easily collapsible case as is the Belkin’s. However, when you’re new to the Logitech there’s a little fussing around you have to do with it to get the hang of the manner in which your iPad collapses down on the keyboard. It must come down in such a way as to catch the back magnets then its secure.
In the case of the Belkin, it is designed in a way that it is just so transparent how it closes. You just lift your iPad from the holding magnets (three positions in all as compared to Logitechs one) and it simply slides back into the back cover and that’s it. Collapsed and secure it’s ready to carry about. With the Belkin there is no reason to consider a folio case to go with it unlike the Logitech. That’s because the back of your iPad is protected by a faux leather covering. When you close your Ultimate both the front and the back of the iPad are fully protected. In the case of the Logitech, this is not the case. The back is not protected at all. Only the front of your iPad is.
Two Other Things that Weigh in Favour of the Belkin
The Belkin’s Bluetooth pairing with your iPad is very easy to configure. It has a very nice function though. The Bluetooth and the keyboard are only active when you go to use your Ultimate keyboard. Once you slide it back into its inactive, case position the Bluetooth and keyboard turn off. This has two advantages. One it saves on the battery so therefore you won’t find yourself recharging your keyboard as frequently. The other is a little more unique. With the Logitech, if you remove it from the keyboard and start reading but now want to go and jot a note on the virtual keyboard it won’t appear. That’s because the Logitech keyboard is turned on. You have to turn off the keyboard before you can use the virtual keyboard and this is a bit of a pain.
The other big advantage I find with the Ultimate over the Ultrathin and oh by the way, the Ultimate is just as light and thin as the Logitech, is that the Ultimate can fold over to work in tablet mode without removing it from its case. The Logitech you can certainly remove quickly from the keyboard but it will no longer have any protection on any part of your iPad. The Belkin will continue to be protected as its still in its case only just in a different position.
There’s a New King in the Castle
I can easily conclude by saying there’s a new King in the Castle and that’s the Belkin Ultimate iPad case. I find it does exactly what I want in a very nice form factor that truly Empowers my iPad. The keyboard was the thing that really appealed to me and its fully lived up to what was presented. I can pretty well type on my Belkin as fast and as long as I can type on my MacBook Air or iMac. Its bar non the best keyboard case I’ve worked on and tried and I did try a few of the others before I bought my first iPad keyboard. The Belkin though has easily come along and dethroned the previous King at least in this castle. Hail the new King.