During our trip, we will be leaving the MacBook Air computers at a stop along the way, and will be blogging and communicating solely on iPads. So, we have several basic options for entering text:
- Use the onscreen keyboard (utility = low, price = free, encumbrance = nothing)
- Use the keyboard dock (utility = high, price = I own it, encumbrance = heaviest/bulkiest)
- Use a bluetooth keyboard (utility = high, price = $80-$200 for two, encumbrance = minimal)
Using the Apple bluetooth keyboard has been a complete pain. It does not have iPad-specific keys (still!), it is large, and it has a habit of accidentally turning on in my bag and locking up the iPad. To really turn it "off", you need to deactivate bluetooth on the iPad, which is a chore. There is a neat way to get the home button to work, and to control the iPad via keyboard, but it requires VoiceOver and is a bit of a kludge: Navigate using a keyboard on iPad
I have also tried out the AmazonBasics bluetooth keyboard, available for $40, and the brand-new Logitech Ultrathin keyboard cover for $100. Both of them have iPad-specific keys, and both of them are smaller than the Apple bluetooth keyboard. Most crucially, both of them have easy-to-use "off" switches. In fact, they both are in all ways better than the Apple bluetooth keyboard, except for one reason: they are too small to comfortable type fast on, and they cost money (I already own an Apple wireless keyboard).
So the other option, the cheapest option, is to just bring along the keyboard docks that we already own. Low lag, great keys, iPad specific keys, fun to type on. And the iPad can be charged at the same time. While the iPad looks a little silly in portrait mode, I think that is just a societal artifact of "landscape=cool". Otherwise, the Apple Keyboard dock is expensive, but high quality. They are heavy, but since this is a road trip, and ultralight is not essential, I think they might be the best bet.
If I was looking to spend money, I would choose the AmazonBasics Bluetooth keyboard. It's inexpensive, sharp looking, has good keys (if a bit small), and really light and small.
The Logitech Ultrathin is very snazzy, but turns the iPad into a laptop. And I want an iPad, not a laptop (I feel like it would be great if you always want a keyboard with you). So I will stick with the bigger keyboards. If I am going to haul along keyboards anyway, they might as well be great to type on.
Oh Apple. You win again. But hurry up with an Apple wireless keyboard for the iPad with a home-screen key.
Get your iPad keyboards on Amazon:
Who knew ordering RAM could look so sexy? (Montana, 2011)