The iPad has yet another device designed to protect Apple's tablet and add a wireless keyboard. The Padacs Rubata encloses the iPad in soft leather and opens to reveal a keyboard that is the best among its competitors (so far). But is this $99 accessory worth the investment for those who want to make their iPad more like a netbook?
Design and Setup
Similar to the Kensington Keyfolio, the Padacs Rubata is a combination iPad case and keyboard. The case itself is made of black leather, which feels nice to the touch. At 1.3 pounds, the Rubata is slightly heavier than the Keyfolio (16.5 ounces), and weighs nearly as much as the iPad itself. On one edge is a power switch and a Bluetooth button that can only be pressed using the tip of a pencil. A small microUSB port next to these buttons is used to recharge the device. Just above the keyboard are small lights indicating power and Bluetooth
When opened, the lower edge of the iPad rests just above the keyboard. Like the KeyFolio, there's no way to secure the iPad to the keyboard, so the Rubata must be used on a flat surface. Putting it on our lap caused the iPad to flop backwards.
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Despite the pain in trying to press the Rubata's Bluetooth button, pairing the keyboard with the tablet is fairly easy; simply hold the button down. In the iPad's Bluetooth settings, the keyboard's name will appear; select it, and then, using the keyboard, type the passkey that appears on screen.
Like the Keyfolio and the Zaggmate, the Rubata's keyboard has iPad-centric buttons in place of Function keys. These let us perform tasks, such as controlling the volume and launching a slideshow, along with cut, copy, and paste, Search, and return to the Home screen.
Unlike the KeyFolio, the Rubata's keys are not covered in a rubber membrane. It's more like a traditional keyboard, which made this layout easier to type on. However, it still felt cramped, even compared to a netbook. The keys were responsive and snappy, but a few are out of place. The right Shift key, for example, is all the way to the right, past the Up arrow. Still, that's better than the Keyfolio, which doesn't have a right Shift key at all. Despite these qualms, typing was better on the Rubata than the KeyFolio and the Zaggmate.
Padacs says that the Rubata should last 72 hours of typing without charging, about 18 hours less than the KeyFolio.
Among the three iPad keyboard cases we've reviewed thus far, the Padacs Rubata is the one we prefer. The soft exterior combined with the crisp key feel makes for a pretty comfortable typing experience. Still, there's plenty of room for improvement. You can't comfortably use the device in your lap, and the layout is cramped. Overall, though, the $99 Rubata is definitely worth considering.