Another keyboard folio has just appeared for the iPad Air, this time from longtime accessory manufacturer Kensington. The KeyFolio Pro keyboard folio for iPad Air (US$99.99) is perfect for the person who wants both protection and a keyboard for the iPad Air, as well as a budget price. We'll take a quick look in this review, and then a reader has the opportunity to win a KeyFolio Pro for iPad Air from TUAW and Kensington.
My first reaction after picking up the box that the KeyFolio Pro is in was "wow, this thing is heavy." That's because Kensington has a bunch of different iPad Air keyboard folios in the mix -- there's the KeyCover Hard Shell and Hard Case Keyboards for iPad Air at the low end ($79.99 each), the KeyCover Hard Case Keyboard, the KeyFolio Executive Zipper Folio, and KeyFolio Pro at $99.99 each, the KeyFolio Executive Plus Zipper Folio and KeyFolio Pro Plus at $119.99 each, the KeyFolio Exact Thin at $129.99, and the KeyFolio Exact-Plus Thin at $149.99. Why the company has decided to inundate the market with nine different keyboard folios is totally confusing, and I think consumers will find it confusing as well. I'd rather see an entry level and "executive level" keyboard folio, not a perplexing range of subtly differentiated products.
Well, enough of my griping about Kensington's propensity to flood the market -- let's look at the KeyFolio Pro. It's a rather nondescript black faux leather folio with a removable Bluetooth keyboard that's held into place with some strong magnets. The 1 lb., 4.5 oz. (581 grams) KeyFolio Pro is much heavier than Belkin's Ultimate Keyboard for iPad Air, which weights in at 14.6 oz. (413 grams) and even more weighty than Belkin's Slim Style Keyboard for iPad Air which resembles the KeyFolio Pro but is 3.5 oz. (99 grams) lighter.
There's a magnetic closure that is supposed to keep the folio closed; in reality, the magnet is quite weak and flopped open easily. There are also a series of magnets that work with the iPad Air side of the folio to let it adjust to a number of varying angles, particularly when the keyboard is removed.
The iPad Air is held in place by a slim bezel of the same faux leather, with cutouts for buttons, speakers, and ports.
There are two things that recommend the Kensington KeyFolio Pro for iPad Air -- the keyboard itself and the adjustability of the display angle.
The keyboard is, unlike the Belkin keyboards, a completely standard keyboard layout. That means that you can type quickly without fear of hitting the wrong keys, which was a constant battle with the Belkin layout. There's a top row of iPad "function" keys above the number keys, quite useful for controlling music playback, Siri, or bringing up the virtual keyboard on the screen.
For charging, the KeyFolio Pro uses an included USB to micro-USB cable. For initial pairing of the device, Kensington uses the "old" method of pressing a pairing button, then having you type in a code displayed on the iPad Air screen onto the keyboard. This seems to indicate that the KeyFolio Pro is using an older version of Bluetooth and not the Bluetooth 4 LE standard used on many new keyboards. With those keyboards, pairing is much easier to accomplish.
The feel of the keyboard is quite nice, and it's possible to really speed type on this thing without fingers going to misplaced keys. I also liked the ability to remove the keyboard from the folio and place it elsewhere on a table with the iPad Air further away. There is apparently a backlit version of this keyboard folio (yet another SKU?), so if you need to type in the dark you may wish to search for that version.
As an incentive, Kensington is also offering 65 GB of Google Drive storage for one year when you purchase the KeyFolio Pro for iPad Air.
Kensington's KeyFolio Pro for iPad Air is the first of the confusingly large array of keyboard folios that the company has shipped. It's a rather plain-Jane keyboard folio, although the keyboard has a great feel and a standard layout that make typing a breeze.
Excellent removable keyboard with a standard layout
Magnets allow the iPad Air to be adjusted to a range of viewing angles
Relatively inexpensive at $100
Built-in stylus loop (stylus not included, only thin styluses will fit)
Heavier than competing keyboard folios
Rather plain looking
Magnetic closure doesn't work all that well
Who is it for?
Anyone who wants a keyboard folio that does one thing very well -- providing a fast and well-designed keyboard for an iPad Air
Have an iPad Air? Need a keyboard folio for it? We've got one for you, thanks to Kensington.
Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before November 16, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a Kensington KeyFolio Pro for iPad Air valued at $99.99