iPad mini Keyboard Review: Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case Review
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 3
What's Hot: Protective of the iPad mini's display, stand works well.
What's Not: Doesn't offer smooth touch-typing experience, keyboard feels cramped. Black version doesn't have dedicated iPad control keys.
Reviewed by Tong Zhang
The Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case is a portable keyboard that doubles as a display protective cover. The design allows you to carry the keyboard and your tablet in one package while protecting the most vulnerable part of the iPad mini. The Brando keyboard case fits the iPad mini well and its built-in stand works well to hold up the tablet while you're typing. The keyboard has standard layout and the white version of the keyboard has iPad-dedicated control keys as Fn keys but the black version doesn't. The keys have decent size but due to the small size of the keyboard, they feels cramped to type on.
The Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case is designed to fit the iPad mini as a front cover as well as a keyboard with a built-in stand. The exterior of the keyboard is made in plastic with bead-blasted anodized finish that matches the back of the iPad mini. The keyboard comes in either black or white. The interior is plastic and above the keyboard deck you'll find a slot that allows you to stand your iPad mini in either landscape or portrait orientation steadily. The keyboard case weighs 8.2 ounces and it balances the weight of the iPad mini well so that the tablet won't tip while standing in the keyboard. Above the stand slot you'll find a power slider, a connect button along with two LED lights that indicate power and Bluetooth connection status. The charging port lives on the right side of the keyboard and you can charge it with the included USB cable.
The Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case has four tiny dots that raise the cover above surface, though these aren't rubberized for traction. The keyboard has three raised edges that can latch onto your iPad mini when you store it with the display facing in. The case holds the iPad mini securely once you dock it with the keyboard and it protects the display of the tablet nicely.
While we like the design of the keyboard that works very as a carrying case and gives the iPad mini's display solid protection, the typing experience it offers is subpar at best. Though the keyboard has standard layout, it feels cramped in. Even for normal sized hands, the keyboard offers impossible touch-typing experience. You will hit multiple keys with single stroke, and you'll misplace your touch when you type. And unlike issues with odd placements of certain keys that require you getting used to the locations, the cramping of the keys is something that's hard to overcome. You just can't change the size of your hands no matter how hard you squeeze your fingers together. This leads to pick-typing where you use one finger to pick the keys you need to type, which you could just easily do with the iPad mini's excellent on-screen keyboard.
Another odd thing about the Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case is that the white version of the keyboard has different function keys than the black version of the keyboard. The white version has the Fn keys triple shared on the top row keys and by giving the Fn key a long press you can use iPad dedicated controls such as screen adjustment, multimedia play controls and more. The black keyboard doesn't have the Fn keys therefore there are no iPad-specific keys on this version. There are two dedicated keys that do work with the iPad mini: the Home screen key and the on-screen keyboard launcher key, both live on the left side of the spacebar. The web browser launcher key however doesn't work with the iPad mini.
The Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case has Bluetooth 3.0 and it works with any mobile device that has Bluetooth HID profile support. Pairing the keyboard with the iPad mini or any device with Bluetooth, press the Connect button once and you'll see the blue LED light flashing, use your iPad mini to find and connect with the keyboard. We tested it with the iPad mini as well as iPhone models and Android smartphones, and found the keyboard paired everything easily. The keyboard doesn't seem to remember previous pairing partners though, if you pair it with another device, it'll forget the previous device you've paired with, and you'll need to go through the pairing process again.
The Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case has built-in battery that's 160mAh in capacity and comes with a USB charging cable. The keyboard takes about 4-5 hours to charge and the power LED light will blink when the battery life is low, and it'll turn off when the battery is fully charged. Battery life is decent on the mini keyboard case but not stellar: the standby is 60 days and usage time is 55 hours. The keyboard will go to sleep automatically after 15 minutes of inactivity and you can wake it up by pressing any key on the keyboard. The keyboard reconnected with the iPad mini after being woken up from sleep reliably in our tests.
The Brando iPad Mini Bluetooth Keyboard Case works well as a cover and carrying case, and if you have very small sized hands, it might even work well as a keyboard. Though the keyboard has nice layout and keys have decent travel, the small sized keyboard just feels too cramped to offer a good type-typing experience. The white keyboard has dedicated iPad control keys so that you don't have to constantly move your hand away from the keyboard to use the touch screen, but oddly the black version of the keyboard doesn't have these iPad dedicated keys.