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Entries in Keyboard (7)

Kensington KeyFolio Pro review

Chances are you type way more text on the iPad's virtual keyboard than you thought you would. In fact, studies show that responding to emails is one the of most popular duties of the iPad. It's little wonder then that bluetooth keyboards have become so popular of late. I've tried quite a number over the last 3 years and none have truly hit the mark for my personal tastes. Can the Kensington KeyFolio Pro finally deliver? Let's find out.

Key Features

The KeyFolio Pro is a smart combination of a leather textured iPad Air folio case and slimline bluetooth iPad keyboard. The keyboard is held in place by powerful magnets. Magnets are employed elsewhere for keeping the iPad in 1 of 3 viewing angles and as part of the clasp for keeping the folio case shut. The keyboard has all the keys that you expect on any iPad keyboard plus a few more, the Siri key is especially useful. Battery life is stated as 960 hours working time and 180 days standby time. Impressive! The keyboard has no backlight, though the white on black characters stand out well even in low light.

Likes

There is much to like about the KeyFolio Pro. The leather effect case feels premium with the stitching being particularly impressive, something that we have found lacking on other iPad cases. The iPad Air fits perfectly, with unrestricted access to the speakers, cameras and ports. Again, this is something that you would expect all manufacturers to get right, but you'd be surprised how many don't. All in all, the folio case is a quality item that protects the iPad Air rather nicely. Moving on to the main event, how does the keyboard fair?

I have average sized hands and I find the KeyFolio's keys to be perfectly sized and spaced given the obvious constraints. It's hard to see how this aspect of the design can be improved until such time as Apple launch a larger iPad. All the keys are exactly where you would expect to find them. Battery life is as advertised.

Being able to detach the keyboard from the folio case is a huge advantage. You can prop up the iPad on any available surface whilst typing away at a desk or even your lap. It's worth noting that the basic features of the keyboard work with the Mac too.

Dislikes

I have just 2 small gripes. When the KeyFolio Pro is open, the magnetic clasp occasionally swings around from its resting place to slam into the iPad's screen. This may sound awful, but keep in mind that the glass used on the iPad Air is incredibly scratch resistant. Even so, I think this issue could have been avoided by using slightly stronger magnets. The second gripe is more serious. If you are used to the sensitivity of the MacBook keyboard or Apple's other standalone bluetooth keyboards you will struggle at first with the KeyFolio Pro. The pressure needed to register a key press is often about 30% greater than on the afore mentioned keyboards. You soon get used to the extra pressure needed, and the perfectly spaced and sized keys compel you to keep typing, but it's something to keep in mind if you have a particularly light touch.

The Kensington KeyFolio Pro is available for £99.99 from their website. There are plenty of other iPad keyboard cases available from Kensington, so it's worth a good look around.

Video: Joby Otero's Customised Case For Creating Art on iPad

We love it when people get creative on their iPads, but we also like to see people get creative with their iPad accessories. So here's an idea for a weekend project.

Digital Artist, and ex-Creative Director at Activision(!), Joby Otero has posted this video of his modded, DIY solution to his Anker iPad case.

He says it now perfectly supports his use of the iPad for art working and even coding. It's a pretty easy and inexpensive mod of the case if you don't want/can't afford to buy a new one and a keyboard is important to you. Enjoy!

Video Demo: Casio Keyboards, iPad MIDI and GarageBand

Here's a video demo that shows just how good the sound modelling is in Apple's agressively priced GarageBand for iPad.

The video, made for Australian music store Kosmic Sound, also shows how well the MIDI integration works with external keyboards on the iPad via the Camera Connection Kit.

We thought it was pretty impressive, what do you think?

Appstore Link: GarageBand for iPad

Jorno - An iPad Keyboard In Your Pocket

Image Courtesy of and Copyright Cervantes Mobile LLCThere seems to be a rash of Bluetooth portable keyboard based products at the moment, most incorporated into some kind of folio type of case.

Pocketable

As you will see from the video below, the Bluetooth enabled Jorno from Cervantes Mobile takes a different approach by offering a foldable keyboard like those we used to see for PDAs like the Palm Pilot. It has been designed to work with most mobile devices that support Bluetooth 2.1.

iPad Stand

But the key feature of the Jorno that caught our attention is the integrated and detachable stand which is strong enough to hold our favourite take-everywhere computing device (yes, the iPad!). This is shown in the video and makes the Jorno an interesting proposition for us.

Image Courtesy of and Copyright Cervantes Mobile LLC

Advantage Over Portfolio Cases

The problem, as we see it, with some of the folio type cases with integrated keyboards is there are going to be plenty of times (perhaps the majority) when you want to use your iPad without a keyboard and you would have to keep taking it out of the case or try and manage a keyboard flapping about and getting in your way.

So a keyboard with 'proper' keys that folds down into a very small size when you don't need it so you can drop it in your bag when on the move (or large enough trouser pockets but that might cause some unsightly bulges) is a nice compromise.

A Word on Pricing

The problem here is the price: $99 seems a tad steep in our opinion, especially as you will be buying this in addition to some sort of case for your iPad, but if you still want one you can pre-order now for a 'Spring 2011' release (so sometime soon hopefully), and July in the UK.

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you think the Jorno is worth the price and/or something you would use.

Akai SynthStation49 - iPad docking Keyboard

When Akai Professional brought out the SynthStation25 with integrated iPod Touch/iPhone dock we were desperately scouring the Internet for hacks that would allow a dock extender to work with our iPads but most reports were that the full functionality was not going to work this way.

But worry no more, Akai have just announced at NAMM 2011 the iPad version with a larger keyboard to match, the SynthStation49 (with 49 velocity-sensitive keys as opposed to the 25 keys of the smaller version).

The SynthStation49 is iOS CoreMIDI compatible so should act as an interface to pretty much any App using MIDI but it also has an onboard USB connection so that you can hook it up to your computer / DAW and control that too.

We think this might just be what live gigging musicians have been waiting for to use some of the awesome iPad apps in a real context.

The iPad is charged when docked and can be adjusted to different viewing angles so it looks like they have put a lot of thought into the iPad integration.

We hope that Akai have addressed the latency issues that some were reporting with the SynthStation25 but we are sure we will hear about that soon enough!

You can read more details and a full description of the features on the SynthStation49 webpage, but here are the main ones from the announcement:

  • Portable, velocity-sensitive keyboard with pitch and modulation wheels
  • Nine velocity-sensitive MPC-style drum pads which light when triggered
  • Dedicated transport control buttons including Play, Pause and Record
  • Play MIDI keyboard and drum pad performances into an iPad via CoreMIDI or AkaiConnect apps
  • Built-in, adjustable dock charges your iPad while positioning the screen at the perfect angle
  • USB port for connecting to a Mac or PC, receiving power and controlling MIDI music software
  • Professional ¼" stereo outputs with volume control to connect mixers, speakers and recording equipment
  • Headphone output to practice and compose in private

If this is just what you have been looking for or you have any thoughts about SynthStation49 let us know in the comments. 

What is the ultimate iPad case? 

We have covered iPad cases in quite some detail. It is fair to say that there is a case out there for just about every iPad user, at least that is what we thought until earlier this week. The two primary purposes of a good iPad case up until now have been to protect the iPad and to act as a stand. But now there is a third reason. Physical keyboards and controls.

Multi-Touch is pretty special but until Apple can endow the iPad screen with some kind of haptic feedback there will always be those who struggle when performing certain tasks. Two tasks that readily come to mind are typing and game control. The KeyCase iPad Folio with Integrated Bluetooth Keyboard and the iControlPad look to solve the problems of typing and game control.

Though we can't honestly see a larger iPad specific version of the iControlPad being particularly popular should it ever come to market, the KeyCase on the other hand looks like a real winner. Having a slim Bluetooth keyboard built into the body of the case is a superb idea. The KeyCase could well be the ultimate iPad case for those who spent a lot of time writing.

The Netbook owners' comfort blanket

Some people need a comfort blanket, a physical keepsake that reminds them of more familiar times. The ClamCase for iPad is a comfort blanket for those who find it hard to let go of the traditional physical keyboard.

The ClamCase iPad concept case provides keyboard die-hards with a physical keyboard that communicates with the iPad via Bluetooth. Details are sparse and it seems that the ClamCase site has taken a bit of a beating today and is running in a low bandwidth mode, but the idea seems sound. If it performs well, looks attractive and is priced appropriately, we see no reason why it wouldn't sell very well. We think it's safe to say that they are planning an iPhone version too.