"It's so much more intimate than a laptop," marveled Steve Jobs, when he first unveiled the iPad. Resting the supposed netbook-killer on his lap, ("Netbooks aren't better than anything," he said, "they're just cheap laptops"), Jobs showed off the horizontal keyboard display, pecking away at an e-mail with seeming ease.
Of course, anyone who has actually tried Apple's tablet knows Jobs feigned the effortlessness. On screen typing is awkward: hovering fingers, small keys, hands squeezed together. Writing long e-mails is painstaking, especially with a seperate page for essential keys. Many companies have scrambled to offer external Bluetooth keyboards that also prop the iPad up in prime typing position, including one from Apple itself.
But a new peripheral keyboard being touted today may be the best solution. Called the KeyCase iPad Folio, the keyboard will go on sale shortly in the UK for £59.95 and will carry a usage time of between 45 to 90 hours. (The iPad's batterly lasts around 10 to 12 hours.)
Unlike other keyboards, the Folio folds up neatly with the device and can act as a kickstand, similar to a Netbook's clamshell design. It's a very sleek fix to the iPad's on-screen keyboard, and appears to take up no more room than a typical tablet case cover (though the peripheral's weight has not been disclosed). The keyboard has an on-off switch, though whether that is prone to getting jostled in your bag and typing nonsense messages on your iPad remains to be seen.
The iPad can be used like a laptop, in other words:
As well as a tablet or e-reader:
(Meanwhile, can anyone explain why the iPad's keyboard has home row buttons? You know, those two bumps on the F and J keys meant as a cue for touch typists to find their way on the keyboard. When you can't feel the bumps without typing letters, what the heck is the point?)
Problems like that have led critics to dub the iPad a device more fit for consumption rather than creation. This new device solves the tablet's problem, but only peripherally.