When the iPad first came out, there was a lot of speculation as to whether it could replace a full-fledged notebook. However, many came to realize that, without a keyboard, it was difficult to type longer documents. Enter the Kensington KeyFolio, a Bluetooth keyboard built into an iPad case. Will this $99 accessory let you leave your laptop behind?
From the outside, the KeyFolio looks like an elegant iPad case--which in fact, it is. It's made of black faux leather with white stitching. Flip over the cover, and you reveal its second function as a wireless keyboard.
The keyboard is covered in a rubber membrane that protects it from spills and prevents the screen from getting scratched. A few ridges above the keyboard let you adjust the angle of the iPad, but in doing so, it covers the Pairing button. There's no way to secure the iPad to the keyboard, so the KeyFolio has to be used on a flat surface such as a desk; putting it on our lap caused the iPad to fall backwards.
The case weighs just over one pound, which is light in the grand scheme of things, but, when coupled with the 1.5-pound iPad, this combo weighs almost as much as the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM.
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Pairing the KeyFolio with the iPad was easy. Simply turn the keyboard on (there's a small switch on the right side above the keys), and press the large Connect button on the top. A message will appear on the screen asking you to type in a code on the keyboard to complete the pairing.
The keyboard on the KeyFolio is about the same size as one you'd find on a netbook. However, it's not nearly as good as, say, the Toshiba Mini NB305. The rubber membrane was soft to the touch, and in general, we found the keys responsive. In fact, they were a bit too responsive; we found that we would often accidentally type the same letter twice in a row until we figured out just how much pressure to apply.
We found the KeyFolio, like early netbook keyboards, to be slightly irregular. For example, in order to make room for arrow keys, there's no right Shift key. (For touch typists, that's a dealbreaker right there.) Also, the quote button is not in its usual place between L and Enter--only the Colon key is there. Until we realized this, we found ourselves writing things such as "I;m" instead if "I'm."
However, we like that Kensington reversed the function keys; that is, media controls and volume can be accessed without having to press the Fn key first. Also, the F5 key can be used to bring up the on-screen keyboard, which is nice when you don't want to use Kensington's.
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The KeyFolio's battery is rated to last 90 hours; that's a lot of typing. When--or if--it runs low, you can recharge it using the microUSB port on the side.
The idea that you can take just a tablet with you on business trips is an intoxicating one, as it would free up weight and room in your carry-on. The $99 Kensington KeyFolio makes this dream a reality. However, the keyboard's misplaced keys (and missing right Shift key), the inability to use it securely in one's lap, and oversensitivity are real turn-offs. The KeyFolio is certainly better than nothing, but you may want to wait until something better comes along.