If you’ve got the iPad or iPhone 4 you’ll know how great it is for internet, gaming and reading, but by downloading Pages and Numbers for the iPad you can use it for all your everyday office work, writing your reports, essays and letters. These Apps aren’t available just yet for iPhone, but a slip up at the iPhone 4 launch suggests that they’ll be available soon.
On all of Apple’s touch devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, a touch screen keyboard is the main way to enter text. It’s easy enough to type on, but the lack of feedback when you press a key and inaccuracy when typing means that not everyone gets on with them. There is a way round this though. The software that runs on these devices (iOS 3.2 on the iPad and iOS 4.0 on iPhone) now supports Bluetooth Keyboards. This is a massive step forward as it means that you can now connect a ‘proper’ keyboard to your iPhone or iPad for faster, more accurate text entry.
If you find that you are often writing long emails or reports, then one of the best iPad accessories you can buy is an iPad Bluetooth Keyboard. These keyboards come in a range of shapes and sizes and are really easy to set up, just turn them on, pair it to your iPad or iPhone and you’re ready to start typing at full speed on a normal keyboard.
Our sister site GearZap sells a number of iPad Keyboards, so I thought I’d spend some time trying out some of their most popular ones and here’s how I got on with each of them.
Every now and again something comes along that makes you wonder why no one came up with it sooner and this is one of them! It’s a protective carry case that has a built in bluetooth keyboard built on the inside cover. The case then folds to form a landscape holder for your iPad, positioning it just like a netbook and making it perfect for writing documents in Pages. The keyboard is made from a soft silicone so you won’t get the firm click that you’ll get with a regular desktop keyboard, but you do get more feed back from it than you would by using the on screen keyboard.
What I really liked with this case is that you don’t need to worry about having to constantly replace batteries. The keyboard has a rechargeable battery that uses the same charger as your iPad – this is great as it means you only need to carry around one USB charger.
Another thing that stood out is that the keyboard features all the standard Mac buttons, including volume, music controls and the command and option keys. This may not sound like that big a deal, but without them you wouldn’t be able to use any of the keyboard shortcuts (such as Cmd-A to select all, Cmd-C to copy etc..) with your iPad or iPhone.
Building the keyboard into the case is a great idea as it means you’re always going to have it with you. The case doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your iPad and the soft silicone keypad helps to protect the screen of your iPad when the case is closed. If they can build in an extended battery to the case too I think we’d be on to a real winner!
Any Apple fans will notice that this is the same Bluetooth Keyboard that’s included with all new Apple iMacs. It’s an incredibly thin, full sized keyboard that pairs quickly and easily with the iPad and iPhone. It’s obviously got all the Mac keys, so all your shortcuts will work. It looks great and has proper keys that press and click as any desktop keyboard would.
The Apple keyboard is powered by two AA batteries and the battery life is excellent. The keyboard goes into power saving mode as soon as it’s not being used and comes back on as soon as a key is pressed.
The keyboard is light and portable, but if you’re planning on carrying it around with you, you might want to put it in a protective case as the keys stand out from the keyboard and it would be quite easy to damage or lose a few keys, so for that reason I’d say this is best left at home or on your desk and not carried around.
I wasn’t as impressed with this one as I was with the other two. Just by looking at it you can see that it’s been designed with Windows and Symbian users in mind. It’s a compact keyboard that rolls up when not in use so it’s almost perfect for carrying around and using on the go but for one thing, because this keyboard is flexible, you need to use it on a flat surface. This means that using it on your lap on the train, or on a park bench in your lunch break is almost impossible.
The keyboard has a built in battery and charges using a USB cable connected to your PC. It uses a Mini USB cable so you’ll need to carry two around with you if you want to charge both your iPhone/iPad and keyboard. The keys on it are a soft silicone that is dust and splash proof - similar to those on the Folio Case.
Because it’s been designed for Windows there are a number of keys on it that won’t do anything with iPad or iPhone and as there are no Mac buttons you won’t be able to use any keyboard shortcuts either.
If you want a simple, lightweight portable keyboard for occasional typing then the Flexible Bluetooth Mini Keyboard will do the job nicely, but if you plan on using it more often or want the ability to use keyboard shortcuts, then I’d recommend going for one of the other two keyboards instead.
There are other iPad Bluetooth Keyboards available, these are just the three that I think work the best with the iPad. If you’ve seen an iPad Keyboard that works really well that we’ve not mentioned here, let us know using the comments form below.
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