Last week I reviewed the Apple Wireless Keyboard [http://www.aaii.com/computerized-investing/article/apple-wireless-keyboard], which has become an invaluable accessory to my iPad 2. Almost immediately after I got it, however, I realized there was no easy way of transporting the keyboard and iPad together. That is, until I found the i.Sound Keyboard Portfolio. From what I can tell, this is the only portfolio on the market specifically designed to carry both the Apple Wireless Keyboard and the iPad. That functionality alone makes this portfolio extremely useful and desirable. That is a good thing, since its stability as a viewing stand leaves a lot to be desired. The portfolio I reviewed was given to me by dreamGEAR/i.Sound.
This portfolio is made of genuine leather; not a huge selling point for me, but worth mentioning. There appear to be two different models of the portfolio—one for the iPad 1 and one that comes with a sleeve for the iPad 2. If I read the i.Sound website correctly, the model specifically designed for the iPad 2 comes in black and brown; the first generation iPad portfolio comes in black, brown and red.
The construction seems solid. I have carried the portfolio in my laptop bag and duffle bag for the last couple of months, and it is not showing any signs of wear and tear. The portfolio has a flap closure that is secured by two pieces of Velcro. These do the trick when just carrying an iPad, but they are strained to the limit when you add the keyboard (more on that later). According to i.Sound, the Velcro fasteners avoid wireless signal interference from magnetic closures. I am not sure if that is the case, but it sounds credible.
The interior of the portfolio has the feel of brushed suede, and it won’t scratch the screen of your iPad. There are three brackets that hold the iPad in place. It is important that you get the correct portfolio depending on whether you have an iPad 1 or iPad 2. Since the iPad 2 is slightly thinner than the first generation, the iPad 2 portfolio has a thermoplastic polyurethane (sleeve that gives it enough added thickness to fit securely in the brackets. (On the i.Sounds product page, look at the sell sheets for models DGIPAD-45459 and DGIPAD-4550.) The brackets are positioned so as to not hinder access to charging ports, volume/power buttons or the built-in speaker. Most importantly, the fit is snug enough that there are no worries of your iPad slipping out.
The slot for the keyboard is in the left flap of the portfolio and is intended for the Apple Wireless Keyboard (sold separately). Special attention was paid to add flaps that protect the iPad from being scratched by the keyboard when you close the portfolio. Closing the portfolio, however, can be a little tricky, as the Velcro closures barely keep the portfolio shut when you add the keyboard.
Beyond being a carrying case for an iPad and an Apple Wireless Keyboard, the i.Sound Keyboard Portfolio is designed for two viewing positions—display and type. Getting the portfolio into the more shallow “type” display position was very easy. However, trying to get the portfolio to stand properly in the “display” position proved to be ego-bruising. What figured to be an easy proposition turned out to be impossible, either because of a design flaw or user error. The lack of written instructions didn’t help, either. Even when I tried following instructions posted by other users online, my portfolio kept toppling over.
As a carrying case for my iPad 2 and Apple Wireless Keyboard, the i.Sound Keyboard Portfolio is golden. As I said before, I could not find another product out there designed specifically to carry both devices. With the keyboard inside, the portfolio was a little hard to close, but I could get it to stay shut with a little persistence. As a viewing stand, I would rate the portfolio as only average. Getting the portfolio to stay in the more shallow “type” view position was easy and puts the iPad at a perfect angle for those wanting to type on-screen or use their wireless keyboard. The “display” view would have been ideal for viewing videos at farther distances, for instance, while riding a plane or train. But I wasn’t able to get my portfolio to stay in that position. Given the portfolio’s unique niche in the marketplace, I don’t think the $80 price tag is unreasonable, especially since I view the portfolio more as a carrying case and less as a viewing stand. If you are looking for a viewing stand and don’t have an Apple Wireless Keyboard, I would suggest looking elsewhere.
i.Sound Keyboard Portfolio for iPad
http://www.isound.net/shop-by-model/ipad/i-sound-keyboard-portfolio-for-ipad.html (models DGIPAD-4549 and DGIPAD-4550 reviewed here)
- Carrying case for an iPad and Apple Wireless Keyboard
- Professional look
- Velcro closures barely accommodate the keyboard
- Portfolio would not stay in “display” position without falling over
- Interior pocket not big enough for iPad charger
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.