Monday, July 15, 2013

Keyboard Cases for My iPad Mini

I bought my husband a Logictech Keyboard Cover for his iPad for Father's Day, so he bought me one for my mini. I LOVE it! It's a sturdy case with an easy-on, easy-off keyboard. The iPad fits in nicely in a groove making just the right angle for viewing. The keys are small so it's an adjustment to learn the new keyboard spacing, but it's doable. All-in-all, I enjoy using it rather than the on-screen keyboard in the iPad itself.

Then, today, I received a complimentary keyboard to review: the ArcLight Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard Case. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome when reviewing this keyboard ($52.95 List/currently $29.95 on Amazon) was the fact that I’ve been using the Logitech ($79.99 List/currently $69 on Amazon) for the past two months. This is like comparing a diamond to cubic zirconia! There is quite a bit of price difference.

Therefore, to make it fair, I’m going to tell you what I like about the ArcLight and what I don’t. What you spend on a Keyboard Case is up to you. Everyone knows that, in general, you get what you pay for; and this is true for electronics, as well.

1. The Case: The case is fairly substantial when you consider it is made from some sort of plastic, and it will probably stand up under light-to-normal wear and tear.  The case provides easy access to all the ports of the iPad, and you don’t have to take it out of the case to charge it. It has a really neat feature of a rotating backrest so you can view your iPad either horizontal or vertical. This is great for reading and playing games. I don’t know of any other keyboard case that makes it this easy. (Note: look at the photos on the instruction manual to see how to adjust the backrest. You’ll never figure it out, otherwise!) What I didn’t like about the case is that it’s extremely difficult to open without the iPad in it. It took me a several tries to get it open, even after several tries. I did discover that it’s easier to open once the iPad is in the case. That’s a good thing, because it’s even harder to get off! I even got my hand stuck for a while trying to get it off.  (The instructions didn’t help much on this. It’s just really stuck.)

2. Pairing: Pairing was a cinch! So easy – just turn it on, turn on your iPad’s Bluetooth, enter a code and it’s done.

3. The Keys: Because the iPad Mini is so small, any keyboard you buy will also be small. Therefore, manufacturers tend to eliminate some of the keys and move others around to accommodate this small space. On the ArcLight, however, most of the keys are there and in the right location. The only major differences are the brackets, question mark, quote marks, apostrophe, and lines. (These keys are combined with other letters and require the use of the fn key.) The ArcLight includes an option and command key on both sides of the space bar, and it has arrow keys in the right place. The delete key is bigger than most other keyboard cases, which is nice. However, because it retains these keys, the space bar is much smaller, the keys are smaller and have less space between them than other keyboards. This makes touch-typing awkward, if not impossible. I honestly don’t think a person with large fingers could do touch-typing on this unit. However, if you have small fingers or prefer to use the hunt and peck method, you should be able to adjust to the keyboard. For me, I use the question mark and apostrophe frequently and found the use of the fn key too frustrating.

4. The Bottom Line: IF you’re on a budget, the ArcLight may meet your needs. You can't even go out to dinner today for $29! I do recommend that you try typing on it first to make sure your fingers will fit the keyboard, if that's important. If you have a bigger budget, however, I recommend you buy the LogicTech. It's a better quality cover, easier to put on and take off, and the keyboard is better for touch typing.

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