Keyboard cases for iPad are many and multiplying, but at this point it’s a question of refining the best concepts, not creating dramatically different devices. The Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad is a great example, taking a lot of cues from the massively popular Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad and folio style designs to create a solution that might be as near as perfect as tablet typers can get.
- Keyboard is 6.4mm thin
- 160 hours battery life
- Magnets for secure closure and three viewing angles
- MSRP: $99.99
- Product info page
The Ultimate Keyboard Case is not small, but it isn’t big either. It avoids feeling anywhere near as bulky as a total hardcase like the Brydge, but don’t expect something with the low profile of Apple’s Smart Cover, for instance. But it sill manages to be just about as low-profile as the Logitech Ultrathin, and it has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, including a protective cover for the back of your iPad, three possible viewing angles for your device, and a sound port built into the case that redirects the iPad’s speaker output for better listening.[gallery columns="4" ids="794314,794315,794316,794317"]
The materials feel top-quality, it weighs only 411 grams (slightly more than the Ultrathin’s 355 grams) and its keyboard layout feels natural and won’t impede your touch typing abilities. The design of the keyboard component and faux leather hinge means that you can use it with the keyboard folded back in behind, without keys awkwardly facing outward where you can accidentally hit them with your fingers, as is often the case with folio designs.
As mentioned, the Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case is great to type on, with one small quibble: the recessed design of the keys means that it can be awkward to hit the space bar, since your thumb will also brush up against the base of the case itself. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it does annoy when you’re coming from a standard notebook or desktop keyboard. But the dedicated keys, including a microphone key that brings up Siri on later generation iPads or voice dictation on earlier ones, as well as the convenience factor outweigh any downsides.
The Ultimate Keyboard’s other big feature is its use of magnets to allow for three different viewing angles. It’s a nice trick, and one that works well. The one limitation here is that if you’re trying to type in an unstable setting, say on a very bumpy car or train ride, the magnets can actually become dislodged. As long as you’re using the Belkin on a flat surface and you aren’t on Safari, however, the magnets do their job and offer a bit of flexibility vs. the Logitech Ultrathin.
I feel like we may be reaching peak keyboard case, especially for the standard-sized iPad. But Belkin’s Ultimate Keyboard Case, though somewhat late to the party, shows that there’s still some depth left to be plumbed in terms of wringing innovation out of the overcrowded space. At $99.99, it’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a way to make your iPad a much more capable text-entry machine, while still offering full protection for your iPad itself, this is a good option.