A few days ago, I bought the Belkin Qode Thin Type keyboard for the iPad Air. I work all day, and when I get home, I typically write on my iPad, either this blog, or one of my works of fiction. I type frequently, so I thought it was time to try out an iPad Keyboard. I have a generalized review of iPad keyboards here, but for my specific expereince with the Belkin Qode Thin Type, look no further. The keyboard, like the experience with hardware keyboards in general, has plenty of pros and cons. Overall, it’s enjoyable experience, but there are plenty of ways it could be better.
- Tactile keyboard
- Great looks
- Battery life
- Questionable key placement
- Bluetooth disconnections
- One viewing angle
- A bit small
The Keys and Typing Feel
Jumping right in, the keys on this keyboard have a very nice, firm, tactile feel. Much like a good laptop keyboard, such as the one found on a MacBook. The keys are slightly smaller than the keys on your average laptop, but they’re spaced out about the same as any other keyboard. The spacing is a good thing, because with the reduced size of iPad keyboards, typos are more common. The layout is familliar, but some of the keys are in questionable locations. For example, the semicolon/colon key is placed next to the space bar, the funciton key is out of reach, but the key for Siri is closer to the action. I accidentally tap it all the time. I still have an issue with apostrophes though. The apostrophe/quation key is too close to the enter key, still, it’s better than accidentally typing “snot” any time I want to type “that’s not”.
Function Keys and Shortcuts
The top row of this keyboard is full of useful keys. There’s a key for the home button, lock, multitasking, screenshots, media and volume controls, hiding or showing the software keyboard (good for emoji), and three keys with radio-like icons on them. The radio icons work with iTunes Radio, for favoriting tracks, disliking them, or adding them to your iTunes wish list. They work very well together. Of course, like almost any other keyboard for the iPad, it also has command and alt keys, so you can do copy, paste, selections and more, and access to the same keyboard shortcuts Macs use for special characters.
This keyboard looks fantastic. The colors match the colors of the iPad Air quite well, and the thin aluminum design is almost Apple-like. The bulge for the battery isn’t very Apple-like, but the color, thinness, and use of high quality aluminums and plastics are great. This keyboard won’t make your iPad look much worse, whis isn’t something one could say about most cases, covers, keyboards, or other accessories.
Battery Life and Battery Saving Methods
Battery life is great. I charged the keyboard on the first day I got it, and even with constant daily usage over the past few days, I haven’t even come close to draining the battery. It’s hard to tell the charge level, as there’s only one LED, but it turns amber when the battery is low, and that hasn’t happened yet. Part of the great battery life is the automatic on/off feature, but there are some issues with that. The groove the iPad is stored in during use doesn’t hold the iPad very secrely, which means moving around will cause it to pull out slightly. Once the iPad is out of the groove enough to turn the keyboard off, you’ll go through the annoying process of waiting for it to reconnect. There’s a tiny little rubber coated button in the center of this groove (pictured). If there’s weight on it, the keyboard is on, if there isn’t, it’s off. You could theoretically find something to keep the button held down and eve use the keyboard completely seperately from the iPad, but out of the box, the keyboard will only work if it has an iPad securely held in place.
The groove on the keyboard for the iPad provides only one viewing angle, but it’s a comfortable one. The iPad has plenty of viewing angles as it is, you don’t have to look directly at it. I’ve found the angle is quite comfortable, works great for touch typing (typing without looking at the keyboard), and allows me to simultaniously write articles and binge watch Netflix. It was an unexpected bonus of using a keyboard, but the viewing angle really allows me to divide up my attention better. I just hope my TV shows don’t start bleeding into my writing.
Storage and Portability
There is a magnetic hinge for attaching the case to an iPad, closing the case, and storing the two together. It works, but I was surprised that closing it like a Smart Cover or case didn’t shut the iPad off. Aluminum and magnets don’t mix well, but Belkin could have put a strip of plastic or ruber to conceal the magnets. Fortunately, there’s a rather easy to press lock key on the keyboard, you just have to remember to lock the iPad before closing the lid. A small step, but it’s also a small annoyance that would have been easy for Belkin to fix. The keyboard itself does close on top of the iPad, and doesn’t add very much bulk at all. It doesn’t look terrible doing it either.
The Belkin Qode Thin Type is a fantastic iPad keyboard. I tried a few others in the store, but none compared. Others had a flimsy feel, less firm keys, or next to no key travel. But that wasn’t the story for the Qode. The look, feel, and quick connect/disconnect feature is great, when it works properly. I’ve certainly enjoyed using this keyboard. Is it the best on the market? I can’t say. I’d like to try one that is a bit less cramed, but for this style, it’s a great keyboard, and will suit the needs of many people. I know I’ll be getting a lot of writing done on this keyboard, unless I find a larger one, that is.
Belkin doesn’t yet (as of this writing) allow purchase of the Qode Thin Type on their website. They do have their Ultimate case and keyboard, which uses the same keyboard, but also functions as a case. It also has adjustable angles for use. Belkin hasn’t officially announced the availability of the Qode Thin Type, but after searching around online and through Twitter, I found that Target has them. I couldn’t find them at Best Buy, Radioshack, Office Max, or Staples, but Target had it. The keyboard costs $99, and comes in Grey (very close to Space Grey) and White. It is a bit expensive, after all, Apple only charges $70 for their bluetooth keyboard, but for the design of this case, it’s close enough to a fair price, especially when you consider their competitors sell inferior products for the same price. I’d say it’s worth it to anyone who wants to get some serious writing done. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, in fact, I expected to return it because $100 is a bit much for my budget. Overall, I do like this keyboard and unless I find one that’s better, I’ll be keeping this.
- Design: 4.5 / 5
- Typing Comfort: 3.5 / 5
- Capabilities: 4 / 5
- Battery Life: 5 / 5
- Value: 3.5 / 5
- Overall: 4 / 5