iPad Keyboard Case Review: Freedom i-Connex Combi Keyboard Case for iPad 2 and New iPad Review
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4.5
What's Hot: Good case, nice keyboard, great battery life.
What's Not: Adds bulk to the tablet.
Reviewed by Tong Zhang
The Freedom i-Connex Combi Keyboard Case for iPad 2 and New iPad is a Bluetooth keyboard that integrates into a hard shell case with a front cover. The keyboard attaches to the back of the case magnetically. You can take it out for a typing session then attach it to the case to carry it with you. The Freedom i-Connex Combi has well designed case and the keyboard is easy to pair and easy to use. The keyboard's Bluetooth works nicely with all Bluetooth enabled devices and the built-in battery has good runtimes.
The design of the Freedom i-Connex Combi is quite unique. The portfolio case holds the iPad 2 or the new iPad in its tablet holder, the front cover is detachable via Velcro so that you can either use the cover that comes with the keyboard case or if you already have an Apple SmartCover, you can use that instead. The keyboard slides in the back of the case, secured by a magnet. So you can carry everything, the tablet in the case, the cover and the keyboard, in a single integrated package. The keyboard and case weighs about 14.6 oz. and with the new iPad together, the whole package weighs 2.35 lbs. The keyboard is actually one of the lightest on the market compared to other keyboard cases.
The tablet holder on the case is made with strong plastic and provides excellent protection for the new iPad. The case is very thick to accommodate the keyboard storage but it has a meshed design that vents heat to keep the iPad cool. The case has a layer of soft lining that's also meshed to match the exterior design. The tablet holder is easy to install and not difficulty to take off. Since the case is thick, ports and buttons sit way inside of the cutouts. But the cutouts have nice tappers that make it easy for you to use the buttons and ports. The case offers a side cutout that exposes the screen lock and volume buttons; top cutouts expose the power button, audio jack and the top mic; a bottom cutout for the sync/charge port, a rear camera cutout that give the lens full view and grated cutouts for the rear speaker. You should have no problem using the buttons on the new iPad, or headphones and sync cable.
The Freedom i-Connex Combi case has a thin plastic cover with soft micro-suede like interior lining. It's velcroed onto the tablet holder and you can detach it if you don't want a front cover or use your existing SmartCover. The detachable front cover has built-in magnetic closure support and works like a built-in stand in both portrait and landscape mode.
The Freedom i-Connect Combi measures 8.9" wide and it will take a little time to get used to the smaller size keyboard if you're used to typing on standard sized keyboards. Individual key size is good however, making it easier for your fingers to land at the right places. The keys have good travel distance but they're a bit stiff. You will need to apply some pressure when typing on the keyboard. The keyboard has good tactile feedback though.
The layout of the keyboard is normal and the row keys have no surprises for key locations. Both Shift keys are over sized, so are the Tab, Return and Back keys. The keyboard includes 4 directional keys as well as all two Command, Option/Alt keys and one Control key on the left. The keyboard also offers a dedicated on-screen keyboard launch key. Above the regular key rows, the Freedom i-Connex Combi offers a row of dedicated tablet control keys that include multimedia playback keys, volume controls, copy/paste/cut, screen brightness controls, search and Home screen launcher. Since the keyboard aims at international users as well, it offers a shared Pound/Euro key as well.
The Freedom i-Connex Combi Keyboard for iPad has built-in Bluetooth 4.0 and pairs with Bluetooth devices easily. The keyboard goes into pairing mode automatically when you turn it on the first time, and for subsequent pairing, press and hold the pairing key until the LED flashes blue rapidly.
The Freedom i-Connex Combi keyboard has a built-in battery that's rechargeable using the included USB/micro USB cable. It takes a few hours to fully charge the keyboard and the run time per charge is over 100 hours and standby time is over 300 hours. The keyboard has a power on/off slider, and you can turn off the power at the end of the day to conserve power.
The Freedom i-Connex Combi keyboard case is a compact keyboard and hard case combo that provides convenient hardware typing solution and a very protective case. The keyboard has standard layout and good key travel as well as dedicated tablet keys to minimize touch screen use. The case is well designed and easy to use. It offers easy access to all ports and buttons and the front cover works like a stand. The combine weight isn't too bad compared to other keyboard cases and the built-in Bluetooth is super easy to operate. The keyboard has great battery life as well. It does add quite a bit of bulk thank to the design and keys take a bit of effort to press.