January 27, 2014, 4:50 PM —
Photo by liewcf
I've been thinking about "working on a tablet" lately.
I talked a few weeks back with 5by5 podcast boss Dan Benjamin on an episode of In Beta centered around working styles. I recently wrote a post for Work Intelligent.ly about tablet-specific apps and upgrades. I'm now thinking that a tablet is not just a "when I have free time device"; for people like me, who have a hard time defining "work time" and "personal time," a tablet is a way of having just enough computer to do something serious if needed, but also keeping you from doing to much work-work.
Put another way: you can, if a situation arises requiring an Emergency Email, you can get it done by typing on a keyboard linked to a tablet. But it's harder to get lost in your work, because it's not a Full Laptop, full of Work Stuff. You will, hopefully, not create false and needless capitalization in your email, just to get around having to really describe things with well-chosen words. But I digress.
If you want to use a tablet as a less stressful work device at home, or take it on a trip or vacation as a fail-safe, you had better have a decent keyboard. Cramped and cheap keyboards quickly prove that old adage about getting what you pay for with cramped fingers, a shoddy and unstable feel, and constantly hiccuping Bluetooth connections.
With that rhetoric out of the way, here are three keyboards worth considering, as first linked in the Work Intelligent.ly piece:
Logitech's Easy-Switch Keyboards, as recommended by The Wirecutter (for which I have also done some work). The thing that sets the Logitech models apart are their thoughtful design of being, very specifically, a tablet-augmenting keyboard. They are illuminated, they go a very long time without needing a battery charge, they are lightweight yet spacious, and they have Windows or Mac-specific function buttons. Then again, once you get comfortable with the Easy-Switch on your tablet, you'll want to use it for your home theater system, or for the occasional laptop keyboard replacement. And it's easy to switch over to those devices with just a single button, as the name implies.
The folks at iOS accessories review and news site iLounge also like the Easy-Switch, but for certain iPads, they recommend a more all-in-one solution: The Adonit Writer Plus. The built-in keyboard that automatically sleeps for battery life, the hardly cramped keys, and the overall completeness of the iPad case and bundling are what make the Writer Plus the "the best overall keyboard case option (iLounge has) seen for the iPad." It does not seem as though Adonit is keeping up with updates to the line for newer iPads, though, so it's mostly an option for those looking to boost the viability of older (fourth generation and older) iPads.
The pick of readers of the productivity and software blog Lifehacker (where I used to work—see how lazy I can be?) for the best iPad keyboard case is yet another Logitech: the **Logitch Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. What stood out to Lifehacker readers was the case's "flexibility, battery life, super-thin profile, and the fact that the keys are comfortable to work with but the cover doesn't add a ton of bulk to your tablet." The reviewer at The Wirecutter who also recommended the Ultrathin actually hates tablet keyboard cases, but he grudgingly acknowledged the "weight, durability, excellent price-to-features ration, (and) long battery life."
Not many cases stand out, or have been thoroughly reviewed, for newer iPad Mini and Air models. When that happens, expect a follow-up here.