So I've been eyeing the new iPad Pro 9.7, and while it looks nice, I just couldn't bring myself to spend the money when basically the only improvement I would take advantage of is the keyboard. I mean, same amount of ram, same battery life, same resolution. I decided to keep my iPad Air 2 and find a keyboard case to facilitate email and writing stuff like this.
I was actually eyeing the Brydge Keyboard, but I didn't want the back of my iPad getting all scratched up. Also, Clamcase was cheaper, especially after a $20 off code for signing up for their newsletter.
The keyboard is nicely packaged and surprisingly pretty heavy, about the same weight as the keyboard itself.
The keyboard charges via Micro USB, and will supposedly last 200 hours of use and basically years of standby on a charge. So far I've only had it a few days but the battery indicator (You press a battery key on the keyboard and a light blinks to tell you battery level) is still telling me I'm over 75% full.
Speaking of charging, one little annoyance is the iPad charging port. It's sized pretty much exactly for the OEM cable, but that means that basically nothing else will fit. Like, nothing. If it's a tenth of a millimeter bigger it's not going to work.
So I'm now resigned to carry around an OEM lightning cable or take it out of it's case it charge, like a goddamn animal. I definitely wish there was a little bit more clearance.
Aside from that I have very few complaints. The keyboard is honestly as good as my MacBook Pro Retina. It's obviously smaller, but the key travel is very good and I'm having zero problems writing this article on my iPad. I kinda wish it had a backlit keyboard, but I have yet to find a situation in which I would really need it. I'm a touch typer anyway, and once I find a couple of keys, which is pretty easy from the light from the screen, I no longer need to see the keys anyway.
Build quality is top notch. It really does feel a lot like my MacBook. I don't think that's an accident based on the design.
The Clamcase (I swear to god I'm trying as hard as I can to not make clam jokes, thanks Michelle) has the stuff you expect from an iPad keyboard. Pairing is instant. It sleeps the iPad when you close it. All the shortcuts work, like CMD + T for a new tab in safari, CMD + tab for app switching etc.
The case also folds back beyond 180 degrees. When you fold it back beyond the laptop angle, it disconnects the keyboard so it can be used as a stand without getting random keyboard inputs.
As I said, the family resemblance is definitely there.
I think it looks really nice, kinda a MacBook Air Air. In my so far limited experience, it looks like this is going to be an amazing email and blogging machine. It's more portable than my MacBook Pro, and quite honestly, a lot less expensive. I would be a lot less worried leaving this in my car (out of sight of course, but still).
There are still a few niggles. It's a little top heavy when in the laptop position, it's fine most of the time but I would take a little bit more weight in the keyboard portion to make it more stable. The aforementioned charger port issue, the lack of backlit keys, and I can't for the life of me quit hitting the "trackpad" that doesn't exist. I really wish apple would allow trackpad input on the iPad. This would be an amazing experience with a trackpad down at the bottom. Even with those minor issues, I think it's going to be an amazing addition to my workflow nonetheless. I've managed to knock out this article just like I would have on my MacBook. I'm having an issue imbedding links but that's the fault of the Weebly app, not the keyboard.
It works pretty much identically to my MacBook in terms of work flow, my iPhone photos show up immediately, when I don't have an Internet connection I can just connect to my iPhone's hotspot, etc. It obviously isn't as powerful as a computer with a full desktop OS, but I often don't need that. For email and blogging, in a very portable, versatile package, this is a really compelling option.
You can find the clam case for all variety of iPads on their site and on Amazon.