Every tablet keyboard doesn’t have to double as a case or cover!

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The iPad mini keyboard market has been expanded quite a bit in the last few weeks, as both Logitech and Belkin have announced their versions of an iPad mini keyboard. Both those are designed to snap onto the iPad mini like a Smart Cover, and come with magnetic hinges for that purpose. Then you have the ZAGGkeys Mini 7, another Belkin keyboard, and upcoming (in theory) mini version of the ClamCase, all of which double as full cases. Even the cheap keyboard I got for my mini doubles as a sort of case, which led me to modify it to remove the case-specific parts. All these cases all try to provide some sort of protective case solution on top of the keyboard functionality, and I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever see a normal keyboard again.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of advantages to having a keyboard case. I particularly like the keyboards that double as magnetic covers, as they utilize the magnetic feature of the iPad very well. If you type a lot, it makes a ton of sense to slap something like that on your iPad and head out the door to do some typing on the go.

What I do have a problem with, is that keyboards that aren’t cases seem to be dying out. I for one have no plans of ever using a keyboard case, because I simply don’t use a keyboard enough to want to even semi-permanently attach it to my device. I love the Smart Cover/back case combo I’m currently using, and I keep that on my iPad mini 24/7. At the same time I do have a keyboard with me, specifically that $26 iPad mini keyboard that I modified to remove its case functionality. I use it every now and then, but I’d never even consider lugging it around attached to my iPad.

It seems like the logic that these companies go by is that any keyboard made for one specific device needs to physically attach to that device. I use a bag that just fits the iPad mini, which means that carrying a large keyboard- i.e. one that isn’t made specifically for the mini- is not an option. Yet, because all the keyboards I’ve seen that are the size of the mini also double as cases, they’re not really good options either. Sure, the Logitech and Belkin keyboards wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to use as standalone accessories, but there’s just something about paying that much money for something that doesn’t fit my usage case exactly that doesn’t sit right with me.

With all these companies competing in the keyboard/case combo market, you’d think at least one of them would bother going after the currently rather empty part of the market. If you don’t have to integrate a stand and hinge into a keyboard, you also end up with a lot of empty space, which should be no problem using up. You could for instance add more keys, or even a trackpad. While iOS can’t use a trackpad without being jailbroken, it would make the keyboard more versatile, doubling as a media center keyboard when not being used for iPad duty. There are also a lot of small Android tablets that I’m sure have keyboard-hungry users as well.

Tablets are great because they let you attach accessories to your screen as needed, rather than have them be physically attached from the get-go. That’s why I find it more than a bit ironic that we’re seeing more and more accessories that are essentially designed to never be taken off. At this rate, it won’t be long until headphones come with cases attached to them as well.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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10 thoughts on “Every tablet keyboard doesn’t have to double as a case or cover!

  • Avatar of Davin
    February 12, 2013 at 8:15 am
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    Yes and not every cover and accessory has or needs to be made for Apple devices. They need to be made for Android and Windows devices such as Samsung, HTC, Blackberry and Nokia

    Reply
    • Avatar of William Devereux
      February 13, 2013 at 1:49 am
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      Yes indeed! We need more cases for other devices too.

      While it’s always good to have a variety of cases and keyboards available, I have to say that I absolutely love the Touch Cover for my Surface. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

      Reply
      • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
        February 13, 2013 at 1:50 am
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        Yeah I really wish there was one for the iPad (mini). The touch cover is the only thing from the Surface I actually want.

        Reply
  • Avatar of JRDemaskus
    February 12, 2013 at 9:12 am
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    I bought the Microsoft Wedge BT keyboard the go with a Dell Streak 7 tablet. Works great, feels good, can be used with multiple platforms.
    Thankfully we have more than one choice of product.
    Peace

    Reply
  • Avatar of Ofir
    February 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm
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    Andreas – any reason that you’re using a chopped up case-combo rather than simply buying a bluetooth keyboard? I’ve seen several that fold into themselves for ease of use while traveling, and there are a couple on Amazon that are specifically meant for the iPad and even come with a little stand if you need it.

    http://goo.gl/rYPy2
    http://goo.gl/1tlqR

    Also as an aside – love your articles, keep them up :)

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
      February 12, 2013 at 2:44 pm
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      Basically size. It needs to fit into the bag I carry, which is actually a DSLR bag that is just the right dimensions for an iPad mini, and thus, the keyboard. A foldable keyboard would be an option, but I haven’t really seen any that scream “buy me”, and I’ve actually had a foldable BT keyboard in the past. What I would really love would be a good chiclet style keyboard that would pack a full fledged keyboard into a foldable setup that when foldes is within the dimensions of the mini, but without being too thick

      Reply
      • Avatar of JRDemaskus
        February 12, 2013 at 10:26 pm
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        Well there are a lot of those choices. I saw several I wanted to buy. But the Wedge was a gift for a new college student, and I wanted to get it right. I was pleasantly surprised at how small it was.
        Just measured it, with the cover on.
        10 1/4″ long. 4″ wide.
        It is 1/2″ thick, but has a battery holder at the top that props it up. AAA x2, but thick as AA, Probably 1″ thick at that portion.
        Looks very nice, keys feel good, but they are NOT Backlit.
        And yes, it fits in my small SLR bag. Olympus OM1. My old school press horse. Miss using it.
        Happy shopping, there is no shortage of choices.
        Peace

        Reply
        • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård
          February 13, 2013 at 7:07 am
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          That’s way too long to fit in my bag. I also want one that has a built in rechargeable battery, and last but not least, something that is not made by Microsoft ;)

          Reply
          • Avatar of JRDemaskus
            February 13, 2013 at 8:11 am
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            I would be interested in what you end up choosing.
            I am always looking for new toys.
            Good Luck

  • Avatar of Joe
    February 13, 2013 at 10:16 pm
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    I’m sure it can’t be that difficult to find a Bluetooth keyboard. Sure, they might not make them to specifically match your device, but they’ve been making them for years – if you don’t want a version with a built in case, you have literally thousands of options.

    Reply

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