I find whole concept of using external keyboards with iOS devices enigmatic. In my estimation, the essential point of using an iPad instead of a MacBook is its low-hassle, self-contained portability, and adding a physical keyboard collides with that.
An external keyboard also accentuates the iPad’s lack of external pointing device support, making it necessary to reach over the ‘board to paw at the touchscreen using horribly unergonomic body English. If I had my druthers, I’d pick mouse support over an external keyboard without hesitation. However, I acknowledge that many folks disagree with me, and I have no quarrel with others who prefer a freestanding keyboard for productivity and comfort, and I really don’t like typing on virtual keyboards smaller than the iPad mini’s.
I also dislike Bluetooth, and much prefer wired connectivity, which hasn’t been an option with iOS devices until recently with the appearance of several wired keyboard products available in both Lightning and 30-pin versions. These include Belkin’s Secure Wired Keyboard for iPad (supports iPads only), MacAlly’s IKEYLT Wired Keyboard, and the subject of this review: the Griffin Wired Keyboard for iOS Devices.
Griffin Technology is a Nashville, Tennessee based developer of often somewhat off-the-beaten-track product peripherals and accessories. The company was founded on Paul Griffin’s kitchen table in 1992, and Griffin products are still conceived, designed and developed in-house.
Griffin’s Wired Keyboard offers full iOS key functions and tactile feedback with the added advantage of a cord that makes connections and disconnections quick, easy, and positive, with no Bluetooth pairing required. The Griffin Wired Keyboard is available in 30-pin or Lightning connector versions, and connect to the iDevice (iPad, iPhone or iPod touch) via the docking port.
Created with school environments as a priority (but cool for anybody who just prefers wired input), the Griffin Wired Keyboard’s wired-ness helps teachers avoid problems that inevitably crop up when pairing several iPads in close proximity with several Bluetooth keyboards. Since there is never a need to change batteries, recharge the keyboard or go through a Bluetooth pairing process, teachers can focus on teaching rather than spending time troubleshooting connection issues. The Griffin Keyboard’s generous one-meter cord provides enough length to configure workspaces comfortably.
The keyboard is extremely light and should be minimal hardship to take along when going mobile with a modestly-sized case. The housing is a good quality plastic molding with a dark gray metallic finish, black key caps, and a fine-textured black on the bottom.
The electronics, such as they are with a wired keyboard, live in a boxed channel section of the unit’s bottom enclosure molding that also serves to raise the rear of the keyboard (obligatory or nearly so by convention, albeit ergonomically wrong, but this is far from unique to the Griffin ‘board).
The main alphanumeric keypad keys are mostly mapped where you would expect. I would’ve preferred a row of standard F–Keys on top with an fn function modifier key in the lower left corner. As it stands, we get a row of dedicated iOS function keys for things like volume, multimedia controls, and so forth, and a dummy key where the fn key should be.
Of course, I have to keep reminding myself that this is a keyboard for the iOS and not the Mac.
The Griffin Wired Keyboard has a short-travel key action, which is what I usually prefer, but it’s somewhat stiffer and with more membrane keyboard “over-center” tactile feel than I find comfortable. I have chronic polyneuritis, which makes me ultra-picky about key action. Others may like the Griffin Wired Keyboard’s stiffish action.
To summarize my impressions, on the one hand, I applaud Griffin and its competitors for offering wired keyboards for those of us who prefer wired input over the hassle of pairing Bluetooth, wireless latency, and so forth, or who are challenged by the issue of too many Bluetooth devices operating in the same area.
On the other hand, as noted, I find the Griffin’s relatively stiff keyboard action unappealing, at least for long form entry, but I expect that most users will probably find the Griffin Wired Keyboard’s action just fine.
Provides: Wired keyboard input for iOS devices
Developer: Griffin Technology
Minimum Requirements: 30-pin or Lightning compatible iOS device