There are tons of wireless keyboards on the market these days for all sorts of prices. Those for portable devcies like the iPad are even more numerous, and of wildly divergent quality. I’ve long been a fan of the Logitech series of bluetooth keyboards, as it lights up and can connect to any device, Mac or otherwise, with a quick tap.
Category: iPad Bluetooth Keyboards
Works With: iPad, iPad mini
The MiniSuit BlueBoard is a nicely designed keyboard that connects via Bluetooth to any computing device, but it is primarily designed as an iPad (or other tablet) stand. It’s solidly constructed from aluminum and the keys are responsive and accurate. The price to be paid, here, though, for a full-sized keyboard, is one of size and bulkiness: I wouldn’t want to have to carry this around as a permanent bit of kit.
The keyboard is a gently curved, rigid piece of aluminum, which has been shaped to hold a tablet upright in either portrait or landscape orientation. The two metal bits that hold the iPad in place above the keys is probably one of the most solid feeling I’ve had the pleasure of using. The iPad is held, rock solid, while you type.
The key layout is seriously reminiscent of a Macbook Pro or Air keyboard, especially in coloring. The dark keys with the white characters on a shiny silver bed of aluminum were designed from an Apple-centric perspective. It just looks right to use. The keys themselves are a bit higher and more rounded than the ones on my Macbook Air, a feeling reinforced by the rounded shape of the metal piece.
While the MiniSuit BluBoard is advertised as a multi-device keyboard, it’s really made with Apple’s devices in mind. The whole layout is Mac-like, with the placement of the control key and the addition of a command key. The function keys have Apple icons, as well, with both brightness control and media keys. I’m not sure why they need a Search key and a Photos key, but that may just be more for the iPad tablet than anything else.
The keyboard is simple to pair with an iPad device of any size; just launch Settings and Bluetooth, press the Bluetooth pairing button for a couple of seconds, and the MiniSuit keyboard will show up on the list. You can turn the keyboard on and off in the upper right with a sliding toggle switch (which sort of takes away from the whole vibe, to be honest), and three lights: one for on/off, one for battery life, and one for Bluetooth pairing. Like most rechargeable keyboards of its ilk, the MiniSuit BlueBoard can be charged with any micro USB cable, one of which comes included.
There’s a cover on the keyboard, as well, which doubles as an ergonomic prop. It folds up into a triangle shape, like a Smart Cover, and holds up the rear edge of the whole keyboard, which some people like for their poor wrists. I didn’t find it to be particularly important to prop it up that way, but it doesn’t detract from the experience by any means.
The cover is supposed to help keep dust out of the keys, though I’m not sure that’s a huge issue with keyboards these days–my Logitech Bluetooth keyboard doesn’t need a cover. What’s jarring about this specific cover, though, is that I almost expect it to be a Smart Cover, with the magnetic bit in the side. The design implies that it should also hold the iPad, but it doesn’t. It just covers the keyboard.
Which brings me to my biggest gripe. When I’m portable, working on my iPad, I like to carry as little with me as possible. My backpack has a slim design that holds just enough for me to get my work done with. The BluBoard, when all covered up and sitting on a table, is almost the same size and shape as my Macbook Air. That’s a little too big for me.
The price to be paid, here, though, for a full-sized keyboard, is one of size and bulkiness: I wouldn’t want to have to carry this around as a permanent bit of kit.
It’s obviously a trade-off to have a full-sized keyboard that could function just fine as a laptop keyboard, but for an iPad or other tablet accessory, the BluBoard is just a little too bulky to add to my collection on a regular basis. When I need to write extensively on the iPad, I can see it becoming something pretty useful, at home. I just don’t want to try and stuff it in my backpack all the time.
|Product Name: MiniSuit BluBoard|
The Good: Solidly build, accurate, tactile keys with the best iPad holder lip I’ve used, yet.
The Bad: It’s way too bulky for everyday on-the-go-use. The on/off switch is a generation out of date.
The Verdict If you truly need a full-sized keyboard for your iPad that will take some punishment, the BluBoard will fit the bill, but only for home use.
Buy from: MiniSuit