Posts tagged adonit
The rate at which the iPad has been adopted by school leaders has been nothing short of astounding. I get questions all the time from principals around the world about the best ways to use the iPad in school leadership, and one of the top questions I receive is “What’s the best keyboard to use with the iPad?”
It’s an understandable question. The light, compact form factor and long battery life make the iPad great for toting around all day. But writing evaluations and answering emails without a real keyboard is nearly impossible – the onscreen keyboard just doesn’t cut it.
I used Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard for several months, but found it awkward to hold the keyboard on my lap and find somewhere else to set the iPad.
Then I bought a cheap keyboard case, the leather-folio style, and used it for a few months. But I found the key quality, placement, and functionality less than tolerable (mushy, illogical, and erratic, respectively).
Enter the Adonit Writer, a slim, hard-key keyboard case for the iPad and iPad 2 that I’ve been drooling over since I saw it on Kickstarter a few months ago. Adonit (a Seattle company) was kind enough to provide me with a review model, which I used to draft this review.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no perfect keyboard case for the iPad, but the Adonit Writer is as close as anyone is going to get.
There are two shift keys and two command, option, and control keys, which was a curious choice since Apple laptops don’t have a control key on the right. Leaving it out could have enabled them to make the spacebar longer; currently, it doesn’t extend beneath the M key, making it a full key shorter than on an Apple laptop. My other spacebar pet-peeve is that the bumper that keeps the keys from touching the screen is somewhat in the way, especially given how short the spacebar is anyway. However, I’ve adapted pretty quickly to these two small issues.
The keys are small, but as big as they could possibly be and still fit in this form factor. The repeat rate, which as far as I know isn’t a software setting on the iPad, is reasonable, and I didn’t have any trouble with multiple characters resulting from a single key press, which is a huge problem on the mushy-key case I’ve been using. The Writer’s keys are hard and responsive. The top-row buttons match the buttons on the iPad dock keyboard, in function if not in placement.
For principals, a lot of the appeal of an iPad keyboard is being able to do classroom observations, which generally requires balancing the whole setup on your lap. So far, the Writer seems very stable, since it’s held up by magnets under the keyboard – even with my knees on a slope, as they often are in tiny elementary-school chairs, the Writer had no trouble staying upright.
This is probably the most unique feature of the Writer – the keyboard sticks magnetically to the cover flap, so you can adjust it to a variety of angles, and it absolutely will not flop over. If your hands are on the keyboard, it’s impossible for the iPad to fall over.
I haven’t found any case that isn’t somewhat in the way when you’re using the iPad in portrait mode as a PDA. The Writer does a fairly good job of opening unobtrusively, but it’s always a bit awkward to close due to the magnets that hold the keyboard against the case flap. The flap itself is held closed by an elastic loop. This loop would be easier to close if it was triangular rather than rounded, but it’s a pretty good design.
When the case is closed, it’s extremely thin and easy to slip in and out of a bag; the Writer is about half as thick as my previous keyboard case.
The hard plastic rim that holds the iPad in place seems sturdy, and doesn’t interfere with using the iPad all the way to the edge of the screen; many leather-style cases cover the black border around the screen, making it hard to touch near the edges. The Writer is absolutely great in terms of touch-usability, and it’s easy to pull out if you don’t want to use the keyboard. I found that I could even get the iPad out of the case while it’s still in my briefcase, thanks to the quick-release tab on top.
The exterior material is a matte nylon-like fabric, like the Apple case for the original iPad (though it seems to attract far less dirt). The keyboard body seems to be Apple-style machined aluminum, and the rim that holds in the iPad appears to be sturdy plastic. I’ve been using it for several weeks, and it’s held up to the rigors of travel very well.
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