iPad Keyboard Review: Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad Review
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4.5
What's Hot: Great typing experience, sturdy cover and has built-in stand.
What's Not: The right Shift key is set a bit too far.
Reviewed by Tong Zhang
Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad is a Bluetooth wireless keyboard that also doubles as a protective cover. The keyboard comes in matte black and looks sleek. It's reasonably slim and weighs 10.4 ounces. The Kensington keyboard offers very good typing experience and strong protection for the iPad's display. The wireless keyboard works with any Bluetooth device, but its size and fit and the dedicated keys are specifically designed to use with the iPad 2, iPad 3 and iPad 4 models.
The Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad is made with brushed aluminum and has ultra soft rubber interior surface. The keyboard fits together with the iPad perfectly: just snap the iPad into the keyboard and the keyboard becomes a screen cover. The keyboard clips to the iPad securely. The bottom side of the keyboard is cut out to give you an easy grip to release the iPad from the cover, and to ensure nothing is getting in your way of typing. The keyboard has a slot for the iPad to sit in and a built-in spring loaded pop-up stand to support the iPad in either portrait or landscape orientation. Both power switch and the Bluetooth button live on top of the keyboard, offering easy access. Each control button has an LED light above it indicating power/charging status and Bluetooth status. The micro USB charging port lives on the right side.
The keyboard cover has four large rubber feet to prevent it from slipping on smooth surface and they also provide some shock absorption for the display should you bang the iPad on a hard surface. It comes in a brush gunmetal color.
The keyboard layout is mostly standard and it requires very little adjustment to your normal typing habit. The only thing that takes a little bit of getting used to is the right "shift" key that is a bit further and it's easy to hit the "up" directional key instead and lose your cursor position. The keyboard has all Mac OS' command keys, a dedicated web browser launcher and four directional keys. Like many smaller sized notebook keyboards, the Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell iPad Keyboard favors a Backspace key over a delete key. In addition to the five-row keys, the keyboard has a row of iPad-specific control keys including media play controls, speaker controls, screen brightness, screen lock, cut/paste and dedicated keys to launch the Home screen, Photos and more. These control keys work very well and let you use the tablet with mostly the keyboard instead of having you keep touching the screen.
The keyboard deck has a bit of flexing but it doesn't get in the way of good typing experience. The keys have textured surface that feels slightly rough which prevents your fingers from slipping off the keys when speed typing. The keys also have very good travel depth and it feels better than most portable keyboards we've tested. The size of the keys is large enough for most people to comfortably type on it without feeling cramped and the keyboard offers good spacing between the keys as well.
The Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad has built-in Bluetooth 3.0 and is easy to pair. To pair it with the iPad, press the Connect button and you'll see the LED light above it flashing blue, use your iPad to find and connect with the keyboard, then type in the passcode, the keyboard will connect with the iPad. Bluetooth operations were smooth and flawless in our tests.
The Kensington KeyCover has a built-in rechargeable battery that's 380 mAh in capacity. You can charge the battery using the included USB cable. The LED light turns red when it's charging and it turns off when the battery is charged fully. The Bluetooth keyboard automatically goes to sleep if there is no active key press for 15 minutes, and you can wake it up by pressing any key. The keyboard slept, woke up and connected with our iPad perfectly in our tests. It takes a few hours to fully charge the battery, and the working time is 120 hours and standby time is 200 days on a full charge.
The Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad is one of the best portable keyboards we've seen so far. The typing experience is excellent thanks to the nice key travel, spacing and texture of the keys. The layout is mostly standard and the dedicated iPad keys come in handy for working with Office documents, notes apps and more. The keyboard is slim and light, and offers long lasting battery life. The only thing that might take you a bit of getting used to is the right "shift" key is too far from the main letter keys.