iPad/Apple Bluetooth Keyboard Review: A must-have accessory for your iPad

14 January 2012

Tablet computers can replace a lot of what we do on computers, but one area where they can’t adequately replace is probably with writing long letters, essays, writing forum posts, etc., where a physical keyboard would be much more comfortable to use and much quicker at the same time.

Any Bluetooth-based keyboard will work, but Apple also sells their own Bluetooth-based keyboard and one specifically for the iPad that comes included with an iPad dock. Just to let you know, if you ever do buy the ‘iPad dock’ on its own, make sure you get the iPad dock made for the iPad 2. I made the mistake of buying the iPad dock made for the original iPad; while it works fine, it can easily be tipped over if you tap the screen too hard, which I would presume doesn’t occur with the iPad 2 dock considering there is a slight alteration in the way it looks compared to the original iPad.

I’ve used Apple’s keyboard before. It would pretty much work with any Bluetooth-enabled Mac or Windows computer as well. Though if you use it on a Windows computer the Cmd/Command key will map to the Windows key as usual Windows-branded keyboards. I’m not sure as to whether front-Delete will work by pressing the Fn/Function key and the Backspace key, but there is now physical forward delete key either. On Apple’s Mac operating system, the Backspace key works as both a delete key for characters as well as a delete function for objects or images, such as in a document.

The iPad / Apple Bluetooth Keyboard

The Apple Bluetooth Keyboard is not cheap, priced at £57.00 alone. It’s expensive. You can, though, get the iPad-specific keyboard with specific iOS functions on the keyboard itself alongside a dock for your iPad. However, I believe it was specifically designed for the original iPad, and so the dock may not be designed for the thinner iPad 2, if you have the newer version of the iPad.

Design of the keyboard

Apple never falters on design, and it looks really sleek. It has an aluminium finish with each key being separated into its own bracket, which helps make the keyboard really comfortable to type on. It essentially is the same as typing on one of Apple’s laptops, though the response you get from typing on the Apple keyboard is sligthly different, not as mushy as typing on an Apple keyboard; if there’s an adequate way to explain it.

Typing on the keyboard

Keyboards I have a big issue with. I have tried so many keyboards before that have been no use to me because I simply cannot type on them properly without making a lot of typing errors. Apple’s keyboards are some of the best out there because of their use of the ‘chiclet-style’ keys (or isolated-style keys); they’re comfortable to type on because there’s a gap between each key. I wish more manufacturers made good quality keyboards like this.

It’s very comfortable to type on. Even with it being pretty small for a keyboard, it is full-sized and very comfortable to type on. Although it does not have a dedicated delete key, instead you will need to use the Backspace key (or Fn + Backspace for forward-delete). Some people don’t like this and would prefer Apple to include a Delete key but on Apple’s Mac operating system, the Backspace key pretty much universally works as both a Backspace key and a Forward Delete key for most programs, so Apple obviously thinks a dedicated delete key isn’t necessary. Again, you can forward-delete using Fn + Backspace.

Battery Life

The battery life of the keyboard is great. I have used it for months and it still hasn’t died. I haven’t had it for 3 months as of yet, but from searching around I’d expect the keyboard to last from consistent use for about 3 months, if not more.

The keyboard itself takes 2x AA batteries, and can also take rechargeable batteries as well. Apple sells rechargeable batteries with a wall socket charger for the batteries them self, although it isn’t exactly cheap, at £25, though it does come included with 6 rechargeable batteries in the box alongside the wall socket charger.

Compatibility with other platforms

While the Apple keyboard was made for iOS and Mac platforms, it can also be (unofficially) used on other operating systems as well, including Windows and certain Linux distributions (I tested it on the Linux distribution, Ubuntu and generally works fine, although as you’d expect, certain keyboard functions didn’t work and sometimes would intermittently disconnect the keyboard and keep repeating the prior key pressed, though I believe that may be an issue with my Bluetooth USB dongle). Also tested on Windows and it works fine, although as I said, certain features will not work.

Conclusion

I love this keyboard – it’s comfortable to type on while making little typing errors. It is expensive though, and I am sure it will put some people off buying one considering they will have a £399+ iPad as well. Apple unfortunately doesn’t sell anything cheap so if you really need an external Bluetooth keyboard without having to pay £57, there’s plenty of alternatives such as from Logitech and other popular manufacturers.



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