iPad Keyboard Review: tyPad Bluetooth Keyboard and Case
Reviewed by Jacob Spindel
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 3.5
What's hot: Compact, lightweight, convenient design.
What's not: Key size; key placement.
Allow me to present a partial list of items I normally carry in my backpack: iPad. Case for iPad. Keyboard for iPad. Case for keyboard for iPad. It almost makes my back hurt just thinking about it. So what if I could combine all my iPad accessories into a single unit? The tyPad leatherette iPad case by Accessory Workshop with built-in silicone Bluetooth keyboard sets out to do just that, and the result is much easier to carry with you on the go. Still, some of the design decisions on the tyPad may leave you scratching your head. Although the tyPad may not be a perfect implementation of a portable iPad keyboard case, it is still definitely worth considering for iPad owners who frequently find themselves needing a keyboard.
Just My Type
The tyPad measures just 9.75" x 8" x 1.25" and wraps around your iPad, sealing via a flap with a Velcro patch in the center; when opened, this flap also doubles as a wrist rest. Its built-in Bluetooth keyboard has its own lithium-ion battery that charges in about 3.5 hours via an included USB cable and provides up to 55 hours of usage. (You will also have to leave your iPad's Bluetooth turned on to use it though, which decreases the iPad's battery life.) The plastic frame that holds your iPad in place features cutouts to provide access to the iPad's screen speakers, microphone, Dock connector, headphone jack, and all buttons, and installing your iPad in the case is fast and easy. Pairing the tyPad with your iPad is also simple; just open your iPad?s Bluetooth preferences (in System Preferences under General) and press the Connect button at the top of the keyboard. The tyPad weighs less than two pounds.
The keys on the tyPad have a rubberized feel with a good amount of travel. Accessory Workshop says that using a silicone keyboard makes it quiet and spill resistant, and also helps you avoid smudging on your iPad screen from using the on-screen keyboard. These claims are true; however, a silicone keyboard also attracts lots of dust particles, and since the keyboard presses up tightly against the iPad when the case is closed, in some cases the tyPad can actually make your screen dirtier instead of cleaner. I would definitely recommend installing a screen protector before installing your iPad into the case.
The tyPad has what Accessory Workshop calls a "hinge-free design," which means that when using the keyboard, your iPad can rest at pretty much any angle you want, ranging from parallel to the keyboard to perpendicular to it. This makes it convenient to use the tyPad in a variety of different situations, but it also means there is some wobbliness when you press on your iPad's screen, which means it isn't ideal for fast-paced action games. You can also just leave the keyboard off and use your iPad in portrait orientation if you wish, but the weight of the keyboard makes this position sort of uncomfortable; it might be nice if there were some way to fold the keyboard out of the way instead of just having it "hanging" there while you are trying to work (or play).
The tyPad's keyboard provides virtually all the keys you could ever want for use with your iPad. Its designers included command, option, control, arrow, Home, and Search keys, as well as playback and volume controls. Keyboard shortcuts for the clipboard (like command-C for copy and command-V for paste) work great, and it features two shift keys, although the right one is very small. However, even though all the keys are here, they aren't all in the standard places. The backslash and quote keys are both on the bottom row to the right of the space bar, the Home key is at the top right (whereas Apple's keyboards usually place it at the top left), and the plus/equals key is on the top row, to the right of the F2 key. You will definitely need to retrain some of your typing habits in order to become fully comfortable typing quickly on the tyPad, and when you first start out, you may find yourself having to take long pauses just so you can search for the key you are trying to press.
The tyPad's keys are significantly smaller than those of a standard computer (or even netbook) keyboard. The typing area of the keyboard measures about 8.25 inches across by 3.25 inches tall, which will feel quite scrunched for someone who is accustomed to a computer or even Apple?s iPad keyboard dock. While it is still large enough for touch-typists to type very quickly, this too will take some getting used to.
Above the keyboard, the tyPad provides indicator lights for power and charging status, but it does not provide you with any indication of whether caps lock is enabled.
For some reason, a large number of iPad keyboard cases have started hitting the market in a relatively short amount of time. This means that consumers have lots of options, all roughly in the same price range, so models that aren't as well designed are likely to get overlooked. Unfortunately, some consumers may see the tyPad as one of the models that isn?t especially well designed, thanks mainly to its small keys with nonstandard placements. However, other users may find these quirks to be a small price to pay for the compact, quiet design and the comprehensive set of keys that Accessory Workshop remembered to include. No matter how you look at it, the tyPad is still far more convenient than carrying an entire backpack full of accessories just for convenient typing on your iPad.
Pros: Convenient, small, and light; quiet; good battery life; can keep your iPad at any angle while using the keyboard.
Cons: Nonstandard key placement; can make your screen dirty; small keys; iPad is wobbly when used in case.
List Price: $99
Web site: Accessory Workshop http://www.buytypad.com
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