With my recent upgrade to the iPad Air, I had to retire my Logitech Ultrathin keyboard. Because the new device has a different design, the old Logitech case didn’t work.
Looking into new keyboard cases for the fancy new iPad, I decided this time around I wanted something that would completely enclose my iPad. I don’t always keep my iPad in a keyboard case and, when I do, it is acting much more as a laptop replacement than usual. Therefore, it made sense for me to put it in a case that would protect the entire device.
This time around I decided to go with the Belkin QODE iPad Air keyboard case.
This new case is made from alluminum alloy and extremely light. The iPad air snaps in to the cover and, when closed, it offers full protection to my device. The case has cutouts for the speakers, Lightening port, headphone jack, camera lens, microphone, and iPad Air buttons so the device is fully functional while clipped in. I’ve been using it a month and it still stays in the device firmly but snaps out easily enough when I need it to.
The keyboard has a nice feel to it. The keys are definitely smaller and closer together than on a standard laptop. The keyboard “feel” however, is superior to my Logitech keyboard. There is a dedicated Siri buton and some other custom iOS commands. The keys are well-spaced (to the extent they can be) and responsive. I definitely am faster on this keyboard than I am on the iPad’s touchscreen. The keyboard also includes iPad specific shortcut keys letting me, for instance, play and pause music.
My biggest gripe with the keyboard is key placement. I learned to type with the semicolon under my right pinky and the quote key to its right and the return key to its further right. This keyboard (probably due to space constraints) moved the semicolon key to the bottom to the right of the space bar. This puts the quote key where my brain thinks the semicolon key is and the return key where my brain thinks the quote key is. As a result, my documents sometimes have seemingly random carriage returns at the beginning of very quote and single quotes where you’d expect semicolons. I know attempting to cram a full keyboard into the smaller footprint of the iPad Air can’t be easy but I still think they should have found a better way than moving some of the most commonly used keys. I’d personally have preferred they leave the keys as normal and just made the return key smaller. I’ve now grown used to this quirk and am using the keyboard often.
The screen props up through the use of magnets to three possible viewing angles. The magnets stay attached and despite all of my bumping and jostling while typing on my lap, they’ve stayed firmly connected. One downside of the multiple viewing angles is a certain degree of bounce in the screen. It’s not locked in at one specific angle so when you tap the screen with your finger, it bounces a bit. I did not find this problem to be troublesome.
One of the most interesting features is the lack of a power button. The device turns off and on as needed. The manufacturer claims the device has 264 hours of active battery life and 4,300 hours of standby. I have not thouroughly tested this but I have been using the keyboard for a month with little respect for the charging cable and had no problems.
Belkin got a lot right with the materials, power management, and viewing angles on this keyboard. The big knock against this keyboard is the keyboard layout alteration. It works just fine on my lap, even without a desk in front of me. If they had found a way to keep the standard keyboard layout, I’d have no problem recommending this keyboard. With the strange layout, I’m more reserved in my recommendation, particularly if you are a touch typist.