Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Note: Although this iCapsule only fits the original iPad, we thought we’d include it anyway; why should iPad 2 users have all the fun?

The Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard ($49) is a big bulky blob of a hardshell case. But it’s probably the best case on the market for turning your iPad into a laptop.

The Good:

Although the iPad is expressly designed to be the anti-laptop, there are occasions when you need a full-size laptop keyboard.

What’s the most important thing about an external keyboard for the iPad? Why, the actual keyboard of course. That is, the size and layout of the keys, their movement and the overall quality. Does it make typing easier and faster than on-screen?

We’ve seen several external keyboards that don’t make typing easier. They have tiny little keys, cramped layouts, or cheap nasty keys that don’t travel well or are hard to hit.

Not so the iCapsule Keyboard, which combines a Bluetooth keyboard with a hardshell black case.

Typing on the iCapsule is fast and fluid. Unlike most external keyboards, you can prop the iCapsule in your lap.

The keys are large and well spaced. They’re chicklet style, but they’re more tightly spaced than most chicklet keyboards. The keys are firm, not squishy like some competitors’. There are a good selection of function keys: volume up and down; play/pause, forward and rewind; cut & paste; select all; and so on.

Tapping the screen to make text selections or launch apps takes some getting used to, but overall, the iCapsule Keyboard functions well as a faux laptop.

Then there’s the case itself. It’s a big chunky monster of a case, fattening the svelte iPad by a factor of four and surrounding it with a big plastic fat suit. Nonetheless, there’s barely any extra weight — the case is basically hollow. And it’s got to be big to accommodate the big keyboard.

The iPad slots easily into the lid. There’s a gap for the headphone cord (but not the dock cable). With the iPad in the lid, it’s well protected. There’s no way the iPad is going to slip out.

This is especially true when the case is closed and you’re lugging it around. When it’s shut, it’s shut. The case closes tighter than a lock-jawed clam. It’s actually difficult to get it open. I take this as an advantage; there’s no way the iPad is going to fall out as it’s carried around.

Opened up, the iCapsule is a little off balance . The iPad makes the lid heavy and it tends to tilt back. But with your hands on the keyboard most of the time, it’s not much of a problem.

The old-school carrying handle makes the iCapsule look the toilet-seat iBooks of old. It’s actually a great way to haul the iPad around. Especially for kids.

The Bluetooth keyboard is dead easy to pair — two minute job — and stays paired. There ar complaints on the web of the iCapsule dropping connections, but it’s not been a problem for me.

The keyboard uses two regular AA batteries — another advantage. Buitl-in rechargeable batteries are always dead when you need them most and standard AAAs are dead easy to replace.

The Bad:

This is a bulky car. There’s no stuffing this case in your svelte designer hipster bag.

It’s designed to work the iPad  only in landscape mode. While this is great for watching movies, it’s not so great for editing long documents. But its easy to pop the iPad out and prop it up in portrait against the lid.

The iCapsule doesn’t accommodate the iPad 2. (There’s a new Rocketfish Advanced Series Keyboard Capsule for Apple iPad™ 2, which costs $100).

There’s no way to scroll pages in Safari or other apps using the keyboard.

Verdict:

The iCapsule is a serious keyboard you can put in your lap. It’s the best of both worlds: it transforms your iPad into a laptop when you need to be comfortable for long stretches of work.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This week it’s all about turning your iPad 2 (or iPad) into a workhorse, as we bang out a stack of iPad keyboard case reviews — sometimes using the keyboards themselves to write the reviews!

Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Rocketfish iCapsule Keyboard: This Bulky Case Converts Your iPad Into a Laptop [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

  • MacRat

    Remind anyone else of the Newton eMate?

  • prof_peabody

    the eMate was svelte compared to this thing. 

    I am starting to wonder if CultofMac ever gives less than 4 out of 5 stars though. :)

  • mgeyster1

    That is the stupidest things I’ve seen. So you buy an ipad to make it look like an old powerbook? haha

  • Guest

    Wondering what drives anybody to buy any kind of tabled to transform it into a poor-performig-laptop-lookalike! Am I missing something?

  • jiehun18

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  • jiehun18

    aaa

  • jiehun18
  • jiehun18

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  • Fitz

    I can’t imagine why anyone would buy that…

  • Fitz

    I can’t imagine why anyone would buy that…

  • BillD

    It’s a case from which the iPad can be removed when the external keyboard won’t be needed for other uses of the iPad.

    If the keyboard is as functional for typing as the review indicates, this case is not only a cheaper alternative than using a separate Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard. It is easier to tote around than that two piece alternative, and more versatile to use in various environments, including one’s lap.

    Think of it as a special purpose accessory case for the iPad. For those who use an external keyboard much of the time, it could be the only case. For those who only occasionally need to do heavy-duty typing, the iPad can be slipped into this case when needed.

    The price is certainly right. I’ve got both version 1 & 2 iPads, and I’m thinking about ordering one.

    I was amused by comments that an iPad in this case is reminiscent of an eMate. That was an interesting little device, although the iPad is far more powerful.

  • Fernando Teixeira

    WHYYYYYYYY FOR THE MOTHER OF GODDD WOULD SOMEONE BUY THISS????????

  • elimilchman

    We very often award less than 4/5 stars. For example, just a day or two ago, the first review in this series, the ClamCase Trooper, was awarded a 3.5/5. 

  • AugustoZ

    this is the ugly thing i’ve ever see for an apple product

  • NewPharo

    Logitech got three keyboard stands the ultimate is fold-up full keyboard on their web site + ipad headset

  • Bukituki

    Usefull, but for data entry workers. I makes iPad ugly.

  • Mike Rathjen

    It is bulky, ugly, falls backward unless your fingers are on the keyboard, and the forced landscape mode could be awkward. Your rating is your opinion, but personally any case with that many problems I’d give 3 stars at best, probably 2.

    Typos in the review:

    “This is a bulky car.”
    (It’s a car too?)

    “The keyboard uses two regular AA batteries — another advantage. Buitl-in
    rechargeable batteries are always dead when you need them most and
    standard AAAs are dead easy to replace.”
    (So is it AA or AAA?)

    “Opened up, the iCapsule is a little off balance .”
    (Space before period.)

    Do you guys need an editor? I could use some extra money on the side. :)

  • hausoftrinity

    I actually did buy one of these, thanks to this review. I find it’s MUCH easier to tote about than the keyboard dock OR the blue tooth and easier to store. It has actually made taking my iPad to school less of a hassle.
    Thanks, Cult of Mac!

  • Matinezsmith

    Hello,
    Am matinez Smith from Scotland and i want
    the quick purchase of the item i actually want
    to send it to my cousins in Dublin and i will like to know
    your final Price along with the shipping amount to
    Dublin.
    Regards
    +447031850833
      you can contact me through my mail
    (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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