by Bill Palmer
Keyboard cases give iPad users not only protection, but also the ability to type on a physical keyboard instead of the iPad’s built in virtual keyboard. The catch is that because such cases have their own electronics built in, they tend to add more bulk than a standard case would. Hatch & Co offers the 2-SKINNY, which answers the question of just what it would take to deliver an iPad keyboard case that’s not really any thicker than a standard case.
In general terms, the 2-SKINNY follows the same path as most keyboard cases. It’s a clamshell design with the keyboard built into the inside panel which faces the iPad when closed. Rather than dealing with docking ports or cables, the keyboard simply pairs up with the iPad wirelessly, and runs on its own battery which can be recharged via micro-USB. But the 2-SKINNY diverges from its counterparts in that it’s simply a think hard plastic case, eschewing the bulkier leather or metal found elsewhere. And rather than employing a trifold design for the purposes of standing the iPad up, a half panel behind the iPad folds out to form a stand. A pull-tab uses the weight of the iPad itself to allow for a crude, but effective, system of adjusting the angle of the iPad while typing.
The keyboard consists not of keys which can be physically pressed down, but instead of capacitie “keys” which are simply touched and don’t move; a raised lining around each key allows your fingers to differentiate between keys. To make things more clear, and to allow you to work effectively in the dark, each key name and the lower right corner of the ring around it optionally light up. I’ve tested keyboard cases with touch capacitive keys, and ones with backlit keys, but never both on the same product. It’s a clever combination.
I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from a keyboard case this thin, but in the end I found that you’re not giving up much in exchange for the svelteness.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5 • Price: $99 • hatchnco.com
by Bill Palmer
Kensington’s first attempt at an iPad keyboard case was about as awkward as most of its competitors’ first tries, but the company struck nailed it with its second attempt in the form of the KeyFolio Pro. That product is going to stick around, but will now coexist with the KeyLite, which is a slimmer iteration as its name implies. The KeyLite abandons chiclet keys in favor of an all-flat conductive keyboard whose “keys” exist simply as raised outlines, which Kensington refers to as a “touch keyboard.”
In typing on the unit, we found that the flat physical keyboard does have advantages over the iPad’s virtual keyboard in that the raised lips around the keys allow you to be more assured that you’re hitting the correct key – and it of course allows you to keep your iPad’s entire screen available for whatever app you’re using without the intrusion of the virtual keyboard.
The result is a slimmer KeyLite case overall, about as thick as the KeyFolio pro on one end but much slimmer for the rest of the length of the case. Not everyone will go for the unusual keyboard surface of the $119 KeyLite over that of the $99 KeyFolio Pro, but it makes the unit sufficiently slimmer such that it has to be considered. As of right now, Kensington makes the top two iPad 2 keyboard cases on the market.