I love my huge, heavy Toshiba laptop with its big, glorious 17 inch screen, and I wouldn’t trade it for the fanciest macbook on the market. But, I rarely drag it around campus with me because of its weight. As a nontraditional student of a undisclosed age, I have to be careful about what I load into my backpack each morning. I have a weird fear of lifting my backpack wrong, putting my back out, and being forced to roll my books around in a bag on wheels. Since my irrational fear of rolling bags prevents me from bringing my trusty old laptop to campus, my iPad is my lifeline. I use my iPad to email, check twitter and facebook, browse Pinterest, read books, work on papers, take notes in class, and type this blog. This, of course, requires a quality keyboard.
Last semester, I used a Targus Versavu keyboard. I would not recommend this keyboard. It was big and bulky, had to be manually connected each time I wanted to use it, and it stopped working after a few months. For me, it was a waste of money. After my bad experience, I started my quest to find the perfect keyboard for my iPad 3 with Retina Display (or a 4th generation as it is also known). I read many, many reviews and watched countless youtube video reviews. I am now somewhat of an expert when it comes to iPad keyboards for iPad 2-3-4. Let me share my knowledge.
The first option is to buy a standalone bluetooth keyboard to go with your iPad. The problem here is that you have to remember to pack your keyboard in addition to the iPad, and there is rarely space on those tiny desks for an iPad in a stand and a separate keyboard. Plus, you also would need to purchase a protective cover and stand for your ipad to transport it safely to class. This could be a good option for an office worker who has plenty of space and can leave the stand and keyboard on the desk all day long, but it is probably not the best bet for a college student who is constantly on the move.
The next option is to buy a keyboard cover for the iPad. The highest rated product available currently is the Logitech Ultimate Keyboard Cover. These market for around $99 but can often be found on sale for around $75. These are great, and have wonderful reviews. The biggest drawback with the keyboard cover is that, like the Apple Smart Cover, it leaves the back of the iPad unprotected from scratches and drops. This is a deal breaker for clumsy people like me. There is always the option of purchasing a sticker-like skin to go on the back of the ipad, or storing and transporting the ipad in a protective sleeve, but I personally feel that this adds inconvenience and bulk. Since the primary advantage of the keyboard cover is that it is the sleekest and most convenient option, this kind of defeats the purpose.
The final option that I researched was a keyboard folio. Keyboard folios are basically covers with an integrated keyboard. There are many, many options when it comes to these products. There are generic pleather folios on ebay for about $20, including shipping. There are also high end, name brand folios that retail for $150. Since I had decided that a keyboard folio was the best fit for me and my needs, I decided to dig in and do some serious research to find the best folio out there. I was instantly drawn to the Logitech line of folios because they are highly rated and available in a variety of fun, vibrant colors. My first choice was the Logitech Fabricskin Keyboard Folio, which has a smooth, integrated, and water resistant keyboard. These, I found, were difficult to locate in stock anywhere and were amongst the most expensive on the market, so I moved on down the line to the Logitech Keyboard Folio, which is similar, but has a chiclet keyboard and is slightly bulkier. These retail for about $99 on most websites, but are still difficult to find in the blue color that I had my heart set on. I ended up finding a refurbished blue folio on ebay for $35 and decided to take a risk and order it. I am so glad that I did because I absolutely love it, and I saved a bunch of money on it! It is nice looking, easy to connect, the battery life is great, and it is easy to type on. I couldn’t be happier, and since I got a great deal on it, I won’t be terribly upset if something happens to it.
If you are in the market for a keyboard folio for iPad 2/3/4, your best option is to shop online. When I visited Best Buy in Champaign over winter break they had exactly one folio to choose from, and it wasn’t even on my list of folios to consider. Some other high quality keyboards that I would recommend researching are the Zaggkeys Profolio+ and the Belkin Qode Ultimate Keyboard Case, both of which can usually be found for between $75 and $100.
Do you have a keyboard recommendation to share with other students? Comment below or tweet me at @thamra and I might include your suggestions in a future post!