I live in a one-computer family (for now), and that one computer is a 27″ iMac. It’s great for getting serious work done…comfortably…but there are times when I’d like to take my work with me. The iPad can kind of handle that when the lack of a file directory and mouse input don’t get in the way. Thankfully, I can still connect a keyboard to it, and one of the best I’ve used since the first iPad is the Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air.
When using an iPad keyboard case, you have to make some concessions. First, you’ll be adding plenty of bulk to the iPad Air, considering you’re adding the keyboard and another battery. The QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case will nearly double the width and weight, but it’s still comfortable to hold and carry. When you want to use the iPad without the keyboard, you can fold it back behind the screen, but you’ll need to make sure the keyboard is off. A better option is to just remove the iPad from the keyboard case.
Speaking of that, the iPad Air is held in the case by a plastic enclosure that snaps around the edges. It’s simple to place and remove, although the loud snap when you remove it is a bit disconcerting. The cover is held shut with magnets, but does not function like Apple’s Smart Cover…you’ll need to remember to turn your iPad off.
As you’d expect, there are openings to accommodate all of the iPad’s ports and switches. Belkin was wise to put the USB charging port for the case on the bottom with the iPad’s Lightning connector. The only problem is that even though there’s an opening for the back camera, if you flip the keyboard behind the iPad, you’re covering it up. The only way you can take a picture when you’re using the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is if you just let the keyboard hang below the iPad.
The bottom of the keyboard portion of the case features a thin line of rubber to hold it in place when typing. Just behind the keys are three sets of magnets to securely hold the screen at varying angles. Support is provided by a reinforced leather flap that can be a bit floppy if you’re moving—say, on a bus or an airplane—but is quite stable for desk use.
The keys themselves are smaller than standard keys, of course, but are well-spaced and quite responsive. Typing on them felt like typing on Apple’s keyboards, once I got used to the hand placement. The number row doubles as iPad-specific function keys, including a home button double tap, music/video/audio controls, cut, virtual keyboard call-up, etc. Arrow keys assist with content selection, and there’s even a Siri button. Belkin has done all they can to keep your fingers off the iPad screen, but you’ll still want a stylus for direct input at times.
The QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is available in white with a silver keyboard, silver with a silver keyboard, and black with a sort of blue steel keyboard. That’s the model Belkin provided us for review, and I really dig the way it looks. The cover collects fingerprints and scuffs, but they were mostly pretty easy to wipe away with my handy Monster Screen Clean.
Really, though, you know whether you need a keyboard for your iPad Air. If you’re using it for content creation or if it serves as your laptop when traveling, the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is a logical purchase. It’s sturdy, it provides over 260 hours of active battery life (4,300 standby), and it provides great protection for your iPad. It’s not a case you want to keep on if you’re just checking your social media accounts, reading books or playing games, but as your use of the iPad grows, the QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case will help make sure you don’t outgrow the iPad.
Provides: Bluetooth keyboard input and scuff, scratch protection for the iPad air
Minimum Requirements: iPad Air