Adonit Writer for iPad 2: Magnets! Brilliant! [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Adonit Writer for iPad 2: Magnets! Brilliant! [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Adonit’s humble origins as a Kickstarter project hasn’t stopped the outfit from taking the iPad-accessory world by storm. Adonit’s Jot styli were radical standouts in our stylus shootout a few weeks back, and their version of an iPad 2 keyboard case, the Adonit Writer for iPad 2 ($100), sparked similar “whoa”s as I marveled at its design.

The Good:

Adonit has really taken the magnet thing to the next level. Sure, the cover wakes the iPad upon opening, but that’s a well-worn trick. This one isn’t, though: There’s also a small magnet at the bottom of the Writer’s keyboard that sticks to a thin metallic plate within the cover of the Writer when open — giving it an infinitely variable angle along that plate. It’s quite brilliant, and it gives the Writer a flexibility only surpassed by (much heavier and bulkier) clamshell-style keyboard cases.

Not only does opening/closing the cover turn on/off the iPad, but it also de/activates the keyboard — also brilliant.

Another way the Writer flexes its..well, flexibility…is with the way it’s powered. The Writer relies on three AAA batteries that reside in its hinge; so if the juice ever runs out, you can just pop a few AAA from your local supermarket into the Writer and you’re back in the game.

Not that you’re likely to run out of power without warning, as there’s a ring around the huge, easy-to-use power button that lights up green when the keyboard is activated and red when power is low. A set of AAA lasted just under a month, with moderate use — and that’s from a writer’s perpective, so those dabbling in other professions should be able to squeeze out even more juice.

The keys have a good feel to them: just the right amount of spring, and they feel like they’re a little concave, and seem to work pretty well for touch-typists. When closed, little rubber tips on the edge of the keyboard protect the iPad’s screen from harm. popping the iPad in and out of the case is super-simple, and the iPad is held securely in place with a little plastic tab.

It’s a good-looking case too. the aluminum frame of the keyboard goes well with the iPad, and the suede cover looks snazzy, although scuff marks tend to show easily.

The Bad:

My biggest complaint with the Writer was its keys — they’re just too small; they’re the tiniest keys in the test. Although they aren’t spaced as closely together as the keys of another keyboard case coming later this week, the keyboard still felt a little cramped. Some testers who tried the keyboard didn’t has as much trouble as I did, and it seemed that touch-typists had the best experience.

The keyboard also lacks some of the dedicated keys that other ipad keyboards are equipped with, like cut, copy and paste, etc. — although it does come with standards like power, search, show/hide soft keyboard, picture frame mode and track and volume controls.

No rechargeable battery means no easy way to recharge the keyboard if you get stuck without power; sometimes an outlet is easier to find than a pack of Duracells.

Verdict:

If you can deal with the smallish keyboard, the Writer’s genius design, good looks and fast flexibility should easily win you over.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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

Adonit Writer for iPad 2: Magnets! Brilliant! [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Adonit Writer for iPad 2: Magnets! Brilliant! [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Adonit Writer for iPad 2: Magnets! Brilliant! [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

Adonit Writer for iPad 2: Magnets! Brilliant! [Review, iPad 2 Keyboard Case Week]

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  • James

    Accessories like these seem to contradict the entire concept of an iPad. If you want a physical keyboard, an 11-inch MacBook Air is a much better solution.

  • David

    @James – Apples and Oranges. These type of devices allow you to have all the functions you bought the iPad for in the first place (touchscreen, portability etc.) as well as the productivity of the MacBook Air. You don’t have touchscreen capabilty with the macbooks.

  • fidelisimo

    Can you review the ikeyboard?  It was also a kickstarter project that got great funding and lots of pre-production buzz.. It’s an overlay that fits over the ipad’s keyboard and allegedly makes it easier to type by providing tactile feedback. I’m curious about it but havent seen any reviews about it yet.

    http://www.ikeyboard.com/

  • Reeltime

    The half-width shift key is something that annoys EVERY writer.  Every time you shift– you strike the up arrow key.  

  • DarrenG

    I have one and it fulfils the purpose. I don’t need an MBA, and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to spend £900 instead of £80 just to add a keyboard. I can travel with the iPad and do all that I needed to do with a much lighter package. I wish it was rechargeable and had a top mounted OFF button. I like to use it as a stand but that means the keyboard is active. Also the screen off key is where backspace should be – I keep hitting it!

  • Mike Rathjen

    It’s perfect for people who want a tablet most of the time but a keyboard for a fraction of the time.

  • Shahin

    Looks pretty nice, although I am not sure I like the way the case looks (and possibly feels) when closed, given that the keyboard is only half the width/length of the cover. Sort of seems odd to have that empty space. Although I se how it works well, when the case is actually open an din use.

    Personally I do not do a ton of typing, so I wish that the keyboard was also detachable. I would like to have a case that I can connect the keyboard to when I am traveling and know that I will be doing a lot of typing (emails, etc.), but when I am at home, I would slip the keyboard out and store it, since I would not use it that much. I can’t seem to find a case that has such functionality yet. And, yes, I know I could just buy a separate wireless keyboard, but my point is it is nice when the keyboard can actually be integrated into the case, but also have the option of leaving it behind.

  • elimilchman

    Honestly, I didn’t notice it — but then I almost never use the right shift key.

  • elimilchman

    We’re reviewing a case that fits your description within the next day or two.

About the author

Eli MilchmanWhen he was eight, Eli Milchman came home from frolicking in the Veld one day and was given an Atari 400. Since then, his fascination with technology has made him an intrepid early adopter of whatever charming new contraption crosses his path — which explains why he's Cult of Mac's test editor-at-large. He calls San Francisco home, where he works as a journalist and photographer. Eli has contributed to the pages of Wired.com and BIKE Magazine, among others. Hang with him on Twitter.

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