I’m writing this review on a regular, full-size USB keyboard plugged into the Mac. That should be a warning sign right there — after all, this is a review of an iPad keyboard case. But that’s not the whole story. For instance, the case part of the Moshi VersaKeyboard is fantastic — so good that I’ve been using it as my main iPad case since it turned up for testing.
They keyboard is good, too, with keys as responsive as those on Logitech’s Ultrathin keyboard covers. So what’s the problem? Why am I not typing this review on the Moshi? Size.
The VersaKeyboard combines the clever, origami-style design of Moshi’s VersaCover with a tiny, super-slim keyboard that slips into a slot on the case’s back. When empty, this slot makes a convenient spot for the fingers to grip. When full, you have a case that’s still as slim as many non-keyboard cases.
The case itself is excellent. As you can see in the photos, the front cover folds along pre-creased lines. A pair of magnets keep it folded when in position. As you’ll discover if you buy one (and I recommend the case part), it can be folded into any number of odd shapes. You need just two if you want to use the VersaCover as a stand: one for vertical and one for horizontal orientation.
Both are very sturdy, and both hold the iPad at better angles than any other cases. That is, the “upright” position used to watch movies is slightly less upright than most other cases, adding stability without being any less easy to see. Conversely, the “typing” angle is higher, making the iPad easier to see when it’s on the desk in front of you, either for typing or for anything else.
In fact, I’d say the low angle afforded by the case is better than that of any other typing solution for the iPad. I would also say the standard (non-keyboard) VersaCover, paired with Logitech’s full-size K811 keyboard, might be the perfect travel-typing setup for the iPad Air. It’s also almost as light as Apple’s Smart Case (179 grams versus 150 grams – and the non-keyboard VersaCover is just 156 grams).
The VersaKeyboard itself is a miracle of miniaturization. The keyboard is just a few millimeters thick and weighs 202 grams. It has five rows of keys, with the media keys from the top row combined with the number keys, and an fn key to switch between the two. The key switches themselves are of good quality – crisp and responsive, with a surprising amount of travel for such a small device.
But that’s the problem. The keyboard feels cramped. The Delete key at the top right is not even a full-size key, and I kept hitting the keys around the Return key by mistake. This is partially because I’m used to the bigger, L-shaped Return key of a proper ISO keyboard, but I have other ANSI keyboards that I can type just fine on.
This could go either way. If you plan to use your keyboard just for travel, or as a handy way to get some work done on the go, then the VersaKeyboard is the best miniature keyboard I’ve used – it compromises on size, but that’s it.
On the other hand, if you want something to be your full-time keyboard, then opt for something bigger. And by “bigger” I mean full-size. All iPad keyboards are too small, including the roomier Logitechs, so if you do a lot of typing, just get the Easy Switch and use that.
Which is to say that the Moshi VersaKeyboard might just be the perfect travel companion for the writer on the go, because it is so tiny you can leave it in a bag and forget about it. Just be sure to put in some practice with that tiny Delete key.
|VersaKeyboard by Moshi ($120 list)|
The good: Surprisingly usable for such a tiny device. One of the best iPad cases around.
The bad: You won’t want to type a novel on this thing.
The verdict: An almost perfect compromise, with a great case to boot.
Buy from Moshi