AppleEditorialsTablets

Why my iPad is a physical keyboard-less device

ipad keyboard - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

A while back, I reviewed an iPad case that came with a keyboard. For the most part, both the case and the keyboard were flops: the case wasn’t meant to be used on its own or in a (pardon the pun) lap-top setting, while the keyboard was just awkwardly laid out.

I’ve tried other iPad keyboards in my personal – i.e. not Pocketables – testing, too, but I haven’t found one that matches the reliability and frankly usefulness that the iPad on-screen keyboard offers. Since they all have to be relatively thin to be considered mobile enough to take around with an iPad, these external keyboards almost always have shallow key travel and overall horrible typing feedback.

On top of the lack in usability of these keyboards, most of them just make the iPad seem too thick. Sure, hardly any of them top a quarter of an inch thick, but any amount of thickness still adds up. In the case of the IPEVO accessory, my 0.37-inch new iPad swelled up to a thickness of 1.5-inches.

But most importantly, the iPad does come with a keyboard already. It’s unobtrusive: it stays out of the way when I’m doing something else and only appears when I need it. It’s incredibly responsive, too, since there are no actual key presses to be done: just touch the screen and a “keypress” is registered. It’s instantaneous and I love it.

I’m sure there are very specific use cases for external keyboards, but I can’t think of any of them. The keyboard on the iPad has every key that is necessary, while lacking the ones that aren’t. What am I going to use a Mac Command key for on the iPad? And the arrow keys? Unless I’m forgetting about an awesome feature that utilizes those keys, they are completely pointless.

Then again, I’m just one man, and maybe some of you couldn’t live with your iPad without a keyboard. If you’re one of those people, let me know in the comments what task you use your keyboard for!

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Calob Horton

Calob Horton is an associate editor at Pocketables. He loves all technology, no matter which company it comes from. This unbiased view of the tech world allows him to choose the products that best fit his personal needs and tastes: a Microsoft Surface Pro, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and a third-gen iPad.Google+ | Twitter | More posts by Calob | Subscribe to Calob's posts

Avatar of Calob Horton

10 thoughts on “Why my iPad is a physical keyboard-less device

  • I am rather surprised anyone really feels this way; definitely different strokes for different folks! Actually, the fact that the keyboard has no physical feedback when you touch it is a big disadvantage to most people; it’s why keyboard keys have feedback to begin with.

    I have seen people on the iPad and computer before and thought that with how slow they type, maybe it isn’t as big of a deal to them. If you can touch type, though, typing on the iPad is much slower.

    For my own purposes — though on Android — I frequently am in a Terminal program (hey, OSX has one too), using ssh or programming and needing all the special keys I can get. :)

    Reply
  • ” these external keyboards almost always have shallow key travel and overall horrible typing feedback.”

    Versus no key travel and no feedback on the iPad keyboard.

    I get the adding to the thickness part but if you are stashing it in a backpack then who cares? If you are just using it at home, who cares? But if feedback and key travel are things to complain about on a physical keyboard then you can’t just let the iPad off in this regard. You need to be more consistent in your reviews.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Calob Horton

      It’s like a phone keyboard to me. I’d rather have an on-screen keyboard on my phone rather than a crappy physical keyboard that I have to press down on and not enjoy using. Personal preference, of course. :)

      Reply
  • I can’t imagine typing *any* kind of long document with an on-screen keyboard… one of the reasons I love my Transformer Prime!

    Reply
    • Avatar of Aaron Orquia

      I feel the same way, there’s no way I could type long emails or documents on a tablet, even short emails are a pain. If it’s longer than a few sentences and Google voice to text won’t work, then I usually just wait for a keyboard.

      Reply
  • I’ve found the same thing. Although I still wish there was a good keyboard/case option for the iPad. Every one I’ve tried has been a failure and I end up typing on the screen anyway.

    Reply
  • Swiftkey and my Transformer’s keyboard easily blow any iOS solution away… I’m rather surprised Apple hasn’t entered the keyboard accessory market themselves with a more polished solution, I guess they’d first have to improve keyboard support in iOS tho. The TF’s keyboard has various custom keys specifically tailored for the tablet’s or Android’s features. I only wish it had a setting that disabled the touchpad when it detects a palm, but I often use a mouse when I’m sitting down to write something longer anyway. A real laptop with a quality backlit keyboard is also way ahead of any of this, which is why I don’t see convergence devices like the Surface really becoming the de facto choice for a majority of people. They’ll be fine for people who don’t need a laptop or who need a really large one, but no one with a slim 13-15″ laptop will ever replace it with a tablet convertible.

    Reply
  • One of the main reasons I waited so long to get an iPhone was its lack of keyboard. As soon as I found out there was a keyboard case for it, I switched. It still wasn’t as good as the fabulous keyboard on my HTC, but it worked. Then I learned all the ins and outs of the iPhone virtual keyboard and gave away my case.

    But the lack of arrow keys still drives me crazy sometimes.

    I’ve never before read about anyone loving the iPad keyboard *more* than a physical one, so maybe I’ll grow accustomed as I have to the iPhone’s. But I’m betting the lack of arrow keys may still make me crazy.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Thanman

    I’m with Calob. I have learnt to use the iPad keyboard and have learnt to love it. No longer need to use an external keyboard. The audio feedback that the iPad gives is more than enough to know if you have hit a key or not. There are also typing apps which you can use to improve your hit rate with the onscreen keyboard. I find the keys are spaced out nicely enough such that I don’t have to adjust my hands too much when I get back onto a real keyboard.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Fran Twersky

    Where is the command button on the ipad keyboard screen? I have to copy and paste something into another form.

    Reply

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