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Apr 04 2012

iKeyboard Review

As I have mentioned before I have keyboard issues.

Well, I have lots of issues, ( just ask my long-suffering wife) but the particular issues that I am referring to today are rooted in my truly abysmal handwriting.

I actually LIKED Grafitti on the original Palm units because it would convert my hideous scrawl into something legible, but I have dealt with this issue for so long that when those first folding keyboards came out I was instantly hooked and I have been through countless portable keyboard since then.

When the iPad came out it promised a panacea of glass keyboard goodness that would require no mechanical movement to satisfy my need to improve my handwriting.

Meh.

The onscreen keyboard was unsatisfying for me. I found my self tapping far too hard from some misplaced need for feedback. It made my fingertips sore.

So began my quest for the scissor action, mechanical keyboard of joy. I have been through a bunch but they all add mass and bulk to the Clarke inspired, Apple obelisk of tech geekdom.

Where is the joy in that? I want low profile keyboard love for my data window.

Apparently, the guys over at iKeyboard feel the same way, so they did something about it.

The iKeyboard as actually an overlay made of plastic that lays across the existing on-screen keyboard like so:

The keys have little domes of plastic that you push down to make contact with the screen to actually type. Because of the shape of these they then pop back up into place.

It can be hard to take a picture of the iKeyboard but showing it off might give you a little better sense of its structure.

I hate to be juvenile (oh wait, I guess that is a lie) but this reminds me of the old Pop-o-matic dice roller in the Trouble board game from my childhood. The mechanics are a bit different but it does get the idea across…

Yes, childish and juvenile...just like me

The frame attaches to the iPad without adhesive. The strips along three edges of the iKeyboard are similar to those vinyl decals you put up on your windows and they come off without any residue. If they acquire a bunch of goo and will not stick, iKeyboard recommends that you clean it with a piece of scotch tape.

The big benefit of the iKeyboard is to touch typists. I can hear my high school typing teacher in my head now. “Home row, A, S, D, F, J, K, L, semi. Rest your fingers on those keys.”
Let me just wipe the cold sweat from the flashback away before I continue. (Shudder)

Obviously, you can’t rest your fingers on the glass of the iPad as it will virtually trigger a key strike. This gives the iKeyboard a leg up immediately. You can also leave it on the iPad and close the Smart Cover and it shuts down perfectly causing no interference with the magnets.

The “bins” that the iKeyboard create for each letter also make it nearly impossible to strike an adjacent key and get a misspelling.

The feel of the keyboard is a touch odd. I am a fairly “vigorous” typist and there is a bit of a sense of typing through something.

Conclusions

The pros on the iKeyboard are pretty obvious, light, very low profile, no batteries required and a touch typing experience on the iPad. If you are looking for a low impact, cost effective keyboard solution this could suit you well.

The cons really fall into two categories. The feel, and the cost. The key buttons are a bit strange for me. They work, but the feedback is not exactly what I am looking for to be confident in my typing.

The iKeyboard is $35, which obviously makes it far cheaper than any Bluetooth keyboard that is out there, but it does seem to be a bit high for the cost of materials in the product. I have not seen anything else similar out there to compare it with.

On the whole, I would categorize the iKeyboard as an improvement over the onscreen keyboard but it still leaves me personally looking for a better solution.

iKeyboard $35 (fulfilled by Amazon)

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