Appletell reviews Solid Line’s Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad

Sections: iDevice Accessories, iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Keyboards, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Peripherals, Reviews

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Provides: Bluetooth keyboard and case for iPad
Developer: Solid Line Products
Minimum Requirements: iPad
Price: $119.00
Availability: Now

When Steve Jobs first showed off the iPad, he suggested that typing on it is a dream, or something to that effect. This is a half truth. Typing on the screen is surprisingly comfortable, since no actual pressure is involved. But the keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. Whoever felt that forcing us to switch to a different set of keys to type something as common as an apostrophe needs to be fired and robbed and jailed and denied desert.

Perhaps Apple figured anyone wanting to do some serious typing is going to want an external keyboard. Perhaps that’s true. But do you want to carry around your iPad and an external keyboard? May as well have a laptop, right? Well, it’s not a concern if you get Solid Line’s Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad, which wraps this all up in a fairly slim, PU leather case.

First, I know. PU leather? Solid Line describes it thus:

Also known as bycast leather, PU leather is made by bonding leather scraps and coating them with a layer of polyurethane. The result is a look and feel that is difficult to distinguish from 100% cowhide leather. PU leather is water resistant and easy to clean.

I will agree that it does look authentic enough, albeit with a rather bland texture. But it’s sturdy enough, and the stitching has held up well during my testing period. It’s available in black and brown, so don’t expect anything too flashy.

To use the case, you insert the iPad into a top opening and latch it in place with a flap that tucks inside. The flap is a bit too long to tuck in easily, but I guess that’ll help its reliability. You can then close the whole thing via another flap that latches in place with magnets. I had to kind of pull it further than expected to get the magnets to latch, but once you do this the first time, you’ll see how everything needs to sit in order work.

Solid Line's Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad

That’s just the case part, though. The meat here is the keyboard, which is a little bit good and a little bit bad.

Synching the Bluetooth is a breeze. Make sure Bluetooth is on in your iPad’s system settings. Turn on the keyboard. Hit the connect button. Type in the code. You’re done. It’s mildly confusing when typing in the code, because it doesn’t actually display on your iPad screen; it only gives you a cancel option. You have to just ignore this and type anyway.

A long, slight bump behind the keyboard fits in with the part of the case that holds the iPad, tilting it surprisingly shy of 90°. I’d like to see this angled a bit further, but tucking the lock flap under the case helps by angling the keyboard down and providing more tilt for the screen. Also, you’re stuck using the iPad in its horizontal orientation. That’s the tradeoff for integrating the keyboard with a case.

Now, the keyboard itself isn’t exactly what I’d hoped, but perhaps my expectations are unreasonable. There’s only so much room for a keyboard inside an iPad case, and Solid Line chose to shove as many keys in there as possible. As a result, you only get one shift key, placement doesn’t follow the norm, and the keys are quite small, creating some cramped typing. On the other hand, you get arrow keys for navigation without having to touch the screen, you get audio/video control and function keys, you get a home button on the keyboard, and you get that apostrophe right there where you want it.

Solid Line's Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad

The key action is a bit squishy, like typing on an old spring action computer keyboard with a silicone dust cover on it. As a result, because I’m used to the new Apple keyboards and screen typing, I’d often get repeat letters just because of my typing method. The more I used it, though, the less frequently this happened.

The keyboard is powered by a built-in lithium ion battery that provides up 90 hours of continuous use, Solid Line claims. I’ll have to trust them, because I haven’t used it that long. During my three week test period, though, I haven’t had to charge it once.

Although it takes some getting used to, Solid Line’s Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad is certainly better for serious typing than the iPad keyboard. It’s a good case, and it’s a good keyboard, but it’s not the best for either. If you’re willing to get separate units, you’re going to do better for both, getting more flexibility for possibly less than $120. But if you want everything wrapped up into one tight, professional looking package, this is worth consideration.

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