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

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

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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