The original iPad and iPad 2 are wonderful tools for working on the go: they're lighter than laptops and have great battery lives that will put most laptop computers to shame.
Bung them in protective cases and off you go: your perfect portable office.
But if you're doing loads of typing on your iPad, the on-screen keyboard isn't ideal; an external one is faster and more comfortable to work on.
So why not kill two birds with a single stone, or, in this instance, a case with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard? This way, your iPad is protected when you head out the door, and you've always got a keyboard with you when you want to do some serious typing.
There are a few cases available, especially for the iPad 2, so we've picked a selection to try out for you.
You connect the keyboard to your iPad wirelessly using Bluetooth. First time round, you'll need to pair the two by switching the keyboard into pairing mode (the instructions will tell you how to do this), and then going into the Settings app on your iPad, tapping General, then Bluetooth. The keyboard will appear in the list. To use it, tap its name, wait a moment, then type the passcode that appears on the iPad's screen on the keyboard and press Return.
You'll only need to do this the first time round - each subsequent time, as soon as you switch on the keyboard, your iPad will pick it up, enabling you to get started instantly. Just remember to keep the batteries in the keyboard charged!
Remember that using Bluetooth puts a bit of added strain on your iPad's battery, so it may be worth switching it off (in Settings > General > Bluetooth) if you're running low on power and don't need to use the keyboard at that time.
Some of these iPad keyboard cases are iPad 2-only, others solely for the original iPad, and one will, unofficially, work with both. But many manufacturers offer similar versions for the other iPad, so if one of the iPad 2 cases particularly takes your fancy but you have an original iPad, there may be a version for that available, too.
The Zagg ZAGGmate is designed for the original iPad, though there is a similarly built version for iPad 2 (£90).
The Adonit Writer also comes in versions for both iPads; we tested the iPad 2 edition but the one for the original (£90) is the same, bar the differently shaped cradle. The WeKreat TypeRider is iPad 2-only, as is the iLuv iCK826.
The Kensington KeyFolio Pro is advertised as being for the iPad 2, but it will fit an original iPad - it sticks out of the side a bit and a minute portion of the top of the screen is obscured, but this doesn't affect its use.
Test one: Ease of typing
The keyboard's the most important thing here; if it wasn't, why would you be buying a keyboard case rather than one of the hundreds of other iPad cases out there? To help you make the right choice, we spent a long time typing on each one of the cases in this test to get a proper feel for it. The question at the forefront of our minds was this: how fast could we type on each keyboard without making (too many) mistakes?
Even though these keyboards all fit within the confines of an iPad case, they're not all the same size: the Adonit Writer is the smallest, followed by the equally sized WeKreat TypeRider, Zagg ZAGGmate and iLuv iCK826, and the Kensington KeyFolio Pro is the largest.
None are the size of a full desktop or laptop keyboard (the KeyFolio Pro is around 2cm shorter), but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. There will inevitably be a short period of getting used to the smaller keyboard, but we found ourselves typing away fairly quickly on most of these. Moreover, they've all got some form of iOS shortcut keys along the top, giving quick access to your Home screen, music controls and more.
If you have larger hands, you may struggle using any but the Kensington KeyFolio Pro, especially with the Adonit Writer, but having done a lot of typing on each of these, we don't dislike any of them. Each has its own quirks and minor annoyances, but we were able to type reasonably error-free fairly quickly.
There are irritations, however. The TypeRider's Delete button is only a single key wide, and some in the office really disliked the ridge in front of the spacebar.
The ZAGGmate's arrow keys are arranged in an L-shape rather than the traditional (and intuitive) inverted T, but the flipside of this annoying arrow key arrangement is that you get a longer (and therefore easier to hit) right Shift key; on the iLuv iCK826, TypeRider and Writer, it's only a single key wide and sits alongside the up arrow, which meant we often hit the latter by mistake.
And while we're on the topic of the ZAGGmate, the protective ridge around the edge had a tendency to get in the way of the outsides of your hands when you reach for the keys around the edge.
The iLuv iCK826's keys, while they offer a lovely light action, offer little tactile difference between them, which means we sometimes hit the wrong key or pressed two at once. Let's be clear though, these are minor irritations.
You'll have noticed that the Kensington KeyFolio Pro has been conspicuous by its absence so far. That's because it's easily our favourite keyboard here. The large keys require less acclimatisation than the other models', while they're nicely spaced so as to prevent you hitting two at once. A lovely, lovely keyboard.