One interesting side-effect of using the iPad as a primary device is that I find myself accumulating keyboards. I consider it of great benefit that the iPad isn’t fixed to a keyboard. I can pick it up and use it all by itself which is largely the point of an iPad. For that reason I will not buy a case that requires the iPad be clipped into it in anyway that is not very easy to remove. The most I want for protection is Apple’s Smart Cover which can easily be pulled off. I want the iPad as light and thin as possible. For the first six years that I owned an iPad I almost always used it in a case with a cover. Once I started using it without covers I started using it more as it just feels better that way. All that said I also use an external keyboard with the iPad for 50% of the time and I’m finding that having multiple keyboards handy. At the moment all three of those are Logitech Keyboards.
My least used of the bunch is the Logitech Keys-To-Go which is great for taking on the road. If I’m going to spend an hour working at the library or coffeeshop all I take is the Keys-To-Go, and iPad in the Smart Cover, that’s it. No bags or cases. Super light and thin but my least favorite to type on as there’s no backlight and very little key travel. It really takes some getting used to. Also, it shows more wear than I think it should for the amount it has been used. In particular the fabric covering, what seems like a kind of rubber, has come a bit loose and bubbly which you can see in the image.
When working at home or outside on the deck I’ve been using the K811 as my primary keyboard. It’s a great keyboard to type on and has backlighting. When I’m using the K811 I’m also using a stand of some kind for the iPad. It’s a two piece arrangement with the iPad in the folded Smart Cover (or one of the other stands I’ve got) and the keyboard on a desk or on a lap board of some kind. The benefit of this arrangement is that the iPad can sit off to the side or up on a stack of books closer to eye level. Basically, anything goes and it changes based on my comfort.
But last week I decided to pick up the Logitech K480 which has a greater front-to-back depth and includes a slot/stand for an iPad or iPhone or both. It’s fairly heavy compared to the other two because it also serves as a stand. This is not a keyboard that I’d take to a coffeeshop for light typing. But for working at or around the home it is my new favorite. That said, at 1.8 lbs, it is still light enough that I would take it on the road if I were expecting to do more than a couple of hours of steady typing. It’s not so heavy that I can’t easily put it into my travel bag with the iPad.
Like the K811 the K480 allows for pairing with multiple Bluetooth devices and easy switching between 3 of them. In the case of the K480 there is a handy dial for switching and it works nearly instantly. I currently have it paired to the iPad and iPhone. When the 12.9″ iPad is updated I’ll be getting that and will pair it as well. It won’t fit into the slot in landscape mode with this keyboard but it will work in the portrait orientation. Not sure how stable it will be. If it doesn’t work well with the larger iPad I can pair it to the Mac or AppleTV. Regardless, I expect that it will primarily be used with my current Air 2.
The K480 is a great keyboard for the iPad. The typing experience is excellent and the iPad is very stable when sitting in the keyboard slot. I can have it in my lap at any number of angles based on lighting and my comfort. Over the past three days I’ve used it to type a 20+ page podcast transcript. During that time I’ve used it in my lap on my futon, on the arm of an adirondack chair, in a camping chair in my lap, and in the front seat of a mini-van. In all situations it has allowed for excellent viewing and typing angles while remaining very stable. Due to the weight of the keyboard, the depth and angle of the slot, I can lean it backward or forward and the iPad stays put. It balances with the same stability of a laptop. Carrying from location to location while leaving it in the slot feels very safe.
The only downside is that because it sits so deeply in the slot I cannot activate the swipe-from-bottom Control Center without first lifting the iPad out of the slot a bit. Or, I find that I can swipe up from the bottom left or bottom right corner which will bring up the centered arrow that allows for swiping up Control Center. Not terribly inconvenient but not as easy as a single action swipe up. Yeah, first world problems.
One last negative, minor but worth noting: while the K480 feels like a solid, well made keyboard, it does have a very loud creak to it when picked up or moved around. It’s the sound of plastic flexing and the two pieces of the keyboard rubbing against one another. It’s certainly not a deal breaker but it is loud enough that the people in the room with me noticed it when I adjusted the keyboard on my lap. It’s also a bit loud to type on but I expect a certain amount of sound from a keyboard.
Until Apple releases a 2017 update for the larger iPad Pro I suspect that the majority of my typing will be with the Air 2 and K480 though it’s nice to have the option of pulling the iPad out to use freehanded or with any other keyboard in any arrangement that best fits the situation.