Test two: the case
When you take your iPad out and about, it's going to get knocked around a bit, so you want a case that's going to protect it, ideally without adding too much bulk.
The ZAGGmate adds the least by way of weight to the original iPad, although it doesn't cover the scratch-prone back of the device, leaving it vulnerable.
And the Kensington KeyFolio Pro, while covering the back, leaves the corners a bit exposed. It doesn't have a way of staying shut either, and though it isn't the fattest case here, it feels very tubby. It will, however, allow you to stand the iPad in portrait as well as landscape orientation, adding to its versatility when you're on the move.
The Adonit Writer is beautifully thin and its magnets keep it snugly shut when you're carrying it around. It's rare in offering all-round protection for your iPad, slotting into a plastic frame (which has some nasty sharp corners).
The soft front cover's edges do feel a bit vulnerable, though; we worry that the outer coating and inner lining could split apart with repeated use. And setting the stand up is a tad fiddly, with the magnets that hold the keyboard to the inside of the case making it tricky to set up.
None of the above three cases lets you remove the keyboard, which means you can't put your iPad up at a comfortable height for viewing and type at the same time.
This is what sets the iLuv iCK826 and WeKreat TypeRider apart, because these both let you take out the keyboard. The iLuv iCK826 is the fattest case, but it feels so solid. Granted, the corners of your iPad are left exposed, though less so than with the Kensington KeyFolio Pro.
The WeKreat TypeRider is nice and thin and houses your iPad in a plastic grip, which helps protect it on all sides. However, it leaves the top edge largely exposed, and the shell isn't actually that robust - the thin bit next to the camera opening snapped while we were testing it. Furthermore, when you shut this case, the keyboard rests against the iPad screen because the back of the case bends slightly.
Sometimes, after testing several products, there's a clear winner. But not this time, and your buying decision here is down to where you're willing to compromise: the keyboard or the case.
The Kensington KeyFolio Pro has the best keyboard, no contest. We also appreciated being able to spin the iPad into portrait orientation, and that the case will fit an original iPad or an iPad 2 - if you upgrade, you won't need a new case. We'd recommend it over the Zagg ZAGGmate for the original iPad.
Sadly, the excellent keyboard is let down by the case it's in and the glue binding the two together. Not being able to remove the keyboard means you're forced to peer down at the iPad as you type - not always a bad thing, but at our desk we wanted the iPad higher up for more comfortable viewing. And the case, though well made, is chunky and has no way of keeping itself shut, which is a big oversight.
We like the WeKreat TypeRider too - indeed, when we put it up against the iLuv iCK826 in a Twin Test recently, we preferred it, due to its thin design and nicer keyboard. But a combination of the ridge in front of the spacebar (which irritated several of our friends, but not us), the bendy front cover and the fragile plastic shell means we don't feel comfortable recommending it any more.
The best iPad keyboard case is...
So the gong of best iPad keyboard case goes to the iLuv iCK826. Yes, it's the fattest case here, but it's a price you pay for good protection, and it certainly feels like the most solid offering. There's no worrying that the case will snap, like there is with the TypeRider. The use of a magnet in the clasp is clever, making it easier to open and shut than the TypeRider, too, which uses an elastic strap.
We also really like the way the keyboard is removable and is built into its own leather-like enclosure, which gives you a comfy wrist-rest wherever you're using it. The flat-topped keys aren't ideal - it's too easy to knock the key next to the one you want - but with a bit of care, we were able to type on it quite happily, and the key action is nice and light, so it won't place much strain on your fingers even with prolonged use.
First published in Tap! Issue 10
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