The iPad Air is one of the lightest tablets around, so why weigh it down with a heavy keyboard case? At 11 ounces -- less than Apple's newest tablet -- the Griffin Slim Keyboard Folio for iPad Air is a portable Bluetooth keyboard case that offers fairly good typing speeds. At $79, this svelte case won't weigh down your wallet.
Unlike the other keyboard covers we tested that have a harder shell, the Griffin Slim Keyboard Folio is made of a thin, almost canvas material thatiPad Air offer much protection. The case fits the iPad Air like a glove, inserting into a tight pocket. Two small cutouts above and below the screen allow for a little bit of room to swipe up to see wireless settings and airport mode, or to swipe down to see notifications. The entire cover folds up nicely (and there's a slight magnetic tab to keep it closed), but it felt like nothing more than a sleeve that happens to have a Bluetooth keyboard.
The flimsy pop-out stand on the back of the Griffin case connects to two straps and only locks into one position. In a few cases, the cover would flop down, smashing the iPad Air with a worrisome force. And the stand is too narrow to let you prop the case open in your lap.
There is an eyehole for the iPad Air camera, and openings for the speakers, power, lightning charge port and headphone jack. The Folio comes in two colors, red or black, but there's not much else to the keyboard cover. For example, there's no stylus holder or activity lights.
The Griffin case measures 11.12 x 7.20 inches and weighs 11 ounces, which is about 8 ounces lighter than the M-Edge Universal Stealth Pro Keyboard Folio and 10 ounces lighter than the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Plus with Backlit Keyboard.
Click to EnlargeInitially, the Griffin Folio felt like an ideal typing machine. The keys are all placed near the screen so your palms rest on the case, rather than your lap. We managed a rate of 62 words per minute with a 98 percent accuracy rate on the TapTyping test, a hair lower than with the M-Edge and Belkin models we tested. The keys felt a bit cheap, but were responsive enough and have larger-than-usual white letters.
However, some of the keys are poorly placed. The Backspace key is a bit small, so we kept pressing Enter or the screen lock button by accident, which are just above and below. And, we kept hitting Shift (which is even bigger) when we meant to hit Enter.
Click to EnlargeThe function keys include the usual controls, such as brightness, search, music controls and volume. Oddly, while Home is of the most-used buttons on an iPad, it is relegated to a function key on the left arrow -- to use it, you have to press the blue Function key. While holding Function, you can use up and down arrows for page up and down, a feature also found on the M-Edge.
Unlike our top pick, the M-Edge Universal Stealth, which has four status lights, there is only one light to indicate the Griffin Folio is turned on or blinking to sync over Bluetooth.
Click to EnlargeGriffin says the Folio will last 130 hours on a charge for normal use or about 45 days in standby mode. The cover uses a standard microUSB charge port.
The Griffin Slim Keyboard Folio for iPad Air is as light and thin as Apple's tablet itself. While we were able to type relatively quickly on its keyboard, in this price range, we prefer the Belkin Slim Style Keyboard Case. If you don't mind spending an extra $20, the M-Edge Universal Stealth Pro Keyboard Folio, while heavier, offers a better typing experience in a more versatile design. However, Griffin's Slim Keyboard Folio for iPad Air will suffice for those who value portability above all else.