The iPad has revolutionized the computing world since its release in April of 2010. Despite all of the iPad’s advantages, some people do not like having to type using the on-screen virtual keyboard. Having used an iPad almost since the beginning, I have become rather proficient in using the on-screen keyboard. However, even I find that the on-screen keyboard can get tedious and a bit frustrating when I am trying to type prolonged emails or documents. That used to mean that if I was writing an article, I had to turn to my netbook or laptop. However, a cottage industry has grown up around the iPad, with companies producing an immeasurable number of accessories. These accessories include wireless keyboards. Apple has, arguably, the best Bluetooth keyboard, which I reviewed earlier this year. However, it is a standalone unit, making it difficult to transport. Several companies now produce carrying cases for the iPad 2 that include built-in keyboards. When you open the case, you have access to the keyboard. Also, these cases serve as a stand for the tablet as you are typing. One of these cases is the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case for iPad 2. I was given one for testing and have been using it for the past month or so.
Getting started using the KeyFolio Pro was very easy. After unpacking it, you slide your iPad into the frame. I would have preferred for the frame to be more of a shell, as it leaves all four corners exposed. Furthermore, the frame is not quite snug enough, allowing the iPad to move around a bit. This can make the home button hard to use. This also means that the rear-facing camera is at least partially covered a good portion of the time. If you are using the camera, you need to make sure the iPad is positioned precisely in order to get good pictures. On the plus side, the open-sided frame makes it easy to access the docking connector, headphone jack and power and volume buttons. However, there is not a cut-out for the back speaker. The case allows you to view the iPad in either landscape or portrait orientation.
On the side of the keyboard is a microUSB connector for charging the keyboard as well as an on/off switch. The keyboard also ships with a USB-to-microUSB cable.
Syncing the KeyFolio Pro with my iPad 2 was very simple. The first time you sync the keyboard with your iPad, you first turn on the keyboard using the dedicated power switch on the right side. Then, you go into the iPad Settings and select the General Settings menu. There, under Bluetooth, you select the Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard. In the future, your iPad should automatically recognize the keyboard when it is turned on and sync with it.
I admit that I love my Apple Wireless Keyboard but, as I have said, carrying it around can be a little burdensome. That is why I love the Kensington KeyFolio Pro. Although it does add to the overall bulk of my iPad 2 (the thickness jumps from just under 3mm to 30mm), having a carrying case and keyboard all in one is very convenient.
Although it is a little cramped relative to the Apple Wireless Keyboard, the Kensington KeyFolio Pro is still a vast improvement compared to the virtual, on-screen keyboard of the iPad. The KeyFolio Pro uses a full QWERTY layout and has iPad-specific function keys, including keys for direct search, home screen, volume controls, locking your iPad, and support for displaying the on-screen keyboard.
The chiclet-style keys provide sufficient feedback and are responsive enough that they do not cause fatigue after prolonged typing.
When viewing the iPad in landscape mode, it is relatively stable. When you swivel it to portrait orientation, it is prone to falling down when you tap on the screen. In addition, I found the angle to be a too straight for easy viewing while typing. However, after a while I got used to it.
My biggest complaint with the KeyFolio Pro is the case material itself. It is synthetic, giving it a rubbery feel that makes it easy to grip. However, it also collects smudges and stains rather easily.
Kensington states that the keyboard has a battery life of 90 hours of use or 45 days on standby. If you do not use your iPad, the keyboard goes into standby mode to preserve battery life. When you reactivate the iPad, it takes a few seconds for the iPad to re-establish connection with the keyboard.
The Kensington KeyFolio Pro is the first all-in-one keyboard/case for the iPad that I have tested and, overall, I was very pleased with its performance. Wireless keyboards add a new dimension to iPads, one they do not have with the on-screen, virtual keyboard. The keyboard makes typing long documents on the iPad 2 a breeze. My only real complaints had nothing to do with the keyboard itself so anyone looking for a wireless keyboard for their iPad 2 should strongly consider the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case.
- Swivel mechanism allows for vertical or horizontal viewing of iPad
- Nice-feeling keyboard
- 90 hours of battery life and 45 days standby time
- Screen angle a bit too straight for viewing while typing
- Synthetic case gets very dirty
- Rear camera partially covered unless iPad is held precisely in place
- iPad is a bit unstable and is prone to falling if you tap the screen too hard
Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case for iPad 2
$99.99 (currently $64.99 from Amazon.com)
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.