With clumsy students and teachers, a naked iPad can be a dangerous thing in schools. Every tablet deserves a case to protect it from spills and drops that are part of every school day. Some, like Belkin’s Keyboard Folio for iPad 2, protect and provide an adjustable stand and a wireless keyboard transforming the slate into a go-anywhere desktop computer.
Fashionistas beware: the Keyboard Folio case is only available in dark gray, but the design blends well with the iPad’s appearance. The iPad 2 slides into the case and fits snugly. Unfortunately, it’s a tight fit for an original iPad.
The case has faux leather on the outside and soft fabric on the inside. When the case is closed, the entire tablet is covered and protected, but all the buttons and cameras are exposed and ready for use. The tri-fold elements can be a handful but the case can be folded in a number of different ways, providing a variety of display angles so that you can minimize screen glare.
With its keyboard, the case weighs in at 1.5 pounds or roughly doubling the weight of the iPad. Altogether, it’s still lighter than most notebooks, but lacks space for a pad and pen or a digital stylus. After spending a month with the case, I found the 17.8mm keys to be small but usable and a welcome step up from using the iPad’s on-screen keyboard. The keyboard has an on-off switch and an LED that shows that its battery is charging.
Happily, the Bluetooth keyboard connected on the first try with an iPad and iPad 2. Be ready to enter a PIN code on the keyboard that comes up on the iPad’s screen for the first time the two are paired. There’s no lag between typing and when the characters appear on-screen and the bonus is that the Folio keyboard has a slew of specialty keys across the top row for volume-up and -down, mute and searching. My favorites are the dedicated keys for entering the @ and .com symbols, which can streamline any online journey.
The keyboard’s battery is rated at 60 hours of use and up to three months in standby. It’s likely that the keyboard will only need recharging once a month or so. It ran without a booster charge for more than three weeks of daily use, but lacks even the most basic battery gauge. It comes with a USB charging cable that unfortunately can’t plug into the iPad to fill up the keyboard’s battery. I suggest getting a few multiple USB chargers to juice up a classroom’s worth of Keyboard Folio cases at once.
At $100, the Belkin Keyboard Folio case is an inexpensive accessory that can enhance an iPad and take it to a new level of instruction. For those schools contemplating replacing bulky desktop PCs with ultramobile tablets, the Keyboard Folio case should help them fit right into any classroom.
Belkin Keyboard Folio for iPad 2
+ Protects tablet
+ Bluetooth keyboard
+ Several different screen angles
+ Specialty keys
- Tight fit for original iPad
- No battery gauge