The best Bluetooth keyboard cases and folios for the iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad 4
The iPad Air, and the iPads before it, are mostly considered to be web and media consumption devices, not suited for creative works, with the on-screen keyboard and all that. So many people are using Apple's tablets as their main computing device, however, that the iPad franchise is probably the most accessorized tablet line out there. If it doesn't have a feature or an option out of the box, chances are that there is a case and accessory maker that has a solution in place.
You can see people with iPads all around corporate offices now, lugging them around as their main gadget, and even BYOD policies have been created to accommodate the love for the tablet. To turn your iPad Air into a much more productive device, the obligatory requirement is a nice keyboard folio, or a separate Bluetooth keyboard. With them the iPad, or any tablet, for that matter, becomes a decent content creation device, akin to a tiny notebook. That's why we are rounding up some of the best folios and dedicated keyboard accessories for the iPad, to help you turn it from a media consumption gizmo, into a more serious productivity machine. We are listing the MSRP tags, but don't forget that you can find most of these at places like Amazon and the like for much, much less.
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Logitech's new FabricSkin folio is for those careless individuals who would always spill coffee, juice or water on their gadgets. The island-style keys look flush with the surface, but actually offer a deep travel feedback, and won't stop working if you pour your morning cup of joe on top of them. As an added convenience, it has iOS shortcut keys for copy, paste, undo, and others. The FarbicSkin folds easily to become a case, a stand, or prop the iPad Air at an angle for easier viewing.
The keyboard on Kensington's creation is removable, so you can place the iPad Air at many different angles, and use the folio only as a case, only as a keyboard, or both. There are six rows of keys with generous travel feedback despite the thin keyboard body, which can be backlit in seven different colors of your choice. Right now there is a 65 GB of free Google Drive promo for a year, so once you go Exact Plus, you'd hardly look for other Bluetooth keyboard folio alternatives for your iPad. The downside? It's not cheap.
This keyboard folio prides itself in being very slim, or "ultrathin," as Logitech calls it. It weighs only 425g (0.9lbs), and measures just 20.1mm (0.79in) thick, which makes it one of the most compact and feathery keyboard accessories for the iPad Air. With convenient iOS shortcut keys, the buttons on the keyboard have enough travel to them, despite the slim base, and the Bluetooth connection can last you months on a charge. In addition, you can prop the iPad at various inclinations during work or play, and when all is done, just fold it, and use it as a protective carrying case.
Belkin's QODE is on the pricey side, but it offers slick aluminum looks and a sturdy feel, worthy of the feathery iPad Air. It features big keys with normal spacing, and can lock your tablet in three angles, holding it securely with magnets. The keyboard case can snap closed in a snug fit, protecting your Air-y tablet from external impacts.
Want your iPad to feel like the Lenovo Yoga line? Then the sturdy ClamCase is for you - it offers 360 degrees rotation, it can serve as a touchscreen stand, or as a protective hardshell case. The excellent deep-travel QWERTY keyboard turns your Apple tablet into a productivity powerhouse, and the battery is good for months of Bluetooth connection on a charge. The ClamCase is built of aluminum and polycarbonate with soft lining, so your productive protection looks very stylish, too, if you can stomach the pricing. ClamCase announced one for the iPad Air, too, but hasn't put it into production yet.
Want something cheaper? One of the most popular iPad keyboard lines, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, offers very slim and light cover that combine a great Bluetooth keyboard with added screen protection for your tablet when closed. Available in multiple colors, including purple, the keyboard offers nice tactile feedback, and large, well-spaced buttons.
Even cheaper? Now these are the best thirty bucks you can spend if you are looking to outfit your iPad Air with a keyboard and protection. The Airbender features an innovative hinge/kickstand on the back, which props the iPad upright in a variety of angles and orientations. The keys are island style, and are quite cramped and mushy, but don't forget the heartwarming price tag.
Back to standalone keyboards, the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 does exactly what it says on the tin. You never have to worry about charging, as the solar cells at the top juice the power-sipping Bluetooth connection just by sitting there. On top of that, the keyboard is as compact as Apple's Wireless one, despite the added solar panel space.
The rehashed Apple wireless keyboard is your best bet if you want the design of the iPad to match your typewriter - you know, when sitting in Starbucks, looking cool while you update your recipe blog. Its aluminum enclosure is very compact, and the two AA batteries will last you a long time as it connects with the power-sipping Bluetooth radio.
We'd be remiss not to mention something about the venerable iPad mini, and it's again Kensington that comes up with one of the best value-for-money options. This removable Bluetooth keyboard folio can act as a stand, protective case, and turns your iPad mini into a tiny notebook when opened. The keys offer good travel feedback, and there are dedicated iOS control buttons, too.