Walk into a classroom, and you’ll see how much has changed in the last ten years. Classrooms are outfitted with SmartBoards (interactive projectors that connect to your computer), basic projectors, laptop carts, and now, individual tablets for each student. I work in a high school that values technology, and one of our initiatives for the 2013-2014 school year is to introduce a one-to-one technology plan. Our technology team has decided on using the iPads. I received my assigned iPad back in November. Truthfully, I have yet to find a good use for it in the classroom; I’ll save that discussion for another post, but that all changed when I received the Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell iPad Keyboard.
I wanted to love using the iPad, but I didn’t. I forced myself to become more fluent with it by checking email and using it to surf the web. However, I found myself reading an email and wanting to respond in an efficient, frustration-free way, so I would then open up my computer and respond to the email through the comfort of my MacBook. The iPad turned into a way for me to play videogames, check Facebook, and surf the web without having to get up to get my computer.
Then, I received the Kensington KeyCover Hard Shell iPad Keyboard, and everything changed. Connecting the Bluetooth keyboard to my iPad took less than two minutes compared with the thirty plus minutes I’ve spent trying to connect cell phones to my car’s Bluetooth speakers. Then, I opened up a blank document and began typing. I was instantly in love with this keyboard. The keys are comfortably spaced and have the same feel as a typical computer keyboard. My only complaint is that the shift key on the right side is spaced a bit farther out than a typical keyboard because of the directional arrows that were placed between the ‘?’ and the shift key. Every so often, rather than capitalizing a letter, I end up hitting the up arrow and typing over previous text, but this is a small issue that I’m sure I will adjust to.
Another nice touch on this Kensington keyboard is that the frame is cut out at the bottom of the keyboard where your wrists sit while typing. I’ve used other keyboards that do not remove that lip and your wrists end up in a lot of pain after only a few minutes of use.
The battery life on the keyboard is also impressive; I’ve been using the device for two days straight, and I have not had to recharge it yet. In order to save battery power, though, there is an off switch. Kensington claims that the working time is 120 hours, and the standby time is 200 days. Impressive!
The keyboard also doubles as a case, and it does a nice job of protecting the front of the iPad. Unfortunately, there is no protection for the back of the iPad, and the fit is so snug that you cannot fit a skin over the back and still snap the iPad onto the keyboard. As long as you aren’t too rough with your iPad, this should not cause a problem. Also, because the keyboard fits so snuggly with the iPad, it takes a little effort to remove the tablet. Normally, this is not a problem, but as a teacher, I sometimes need quick access to my iPad to take attendance or enter a quick grade. I played around with the idea of keeping my iPad in its original case and just keeping it behind the keyboard, but then I have two items that I need to carry around from classroom to classroom. I think I’ve decided to simply keep the iPad open on my desk lodged nicely on the keyboard so that I can access it whenever I need.
The only other problem I noticed with the keyboard is that the pop-up stand did not support the weight of the iPad either in the landscape view or the portrait view. I’m not sure if this problem is a flaw with my particular keyboard, or if it is a design flaw. However, I did manage to create an easy fix. I simply wrapped a small layer of masking tape around the piece of metal to provide more friction to prevent the stand from sliding closed. Since then, I’ve had no issues.
Another cool and convenient feature is that when the iPad falls asleep, any keystroke on the keyboard will wake it up and you can even enter the passcode on the keyboard. I’ve become so comfortable with the keyboard so quickly that I find myself reaching for a mouse, forgetting that I’m actually on a tablet. Now, it’s only a matter of time unti I will try to touch my computer screen forgetting that it’s not a tablet.
I cannot thank Kensington enough for creating such a comfortable, functional, and awesome keyboard. This is my first review typed completely on the iPad, and not once did I consider switching over to my computer. In fact, I will recommend this keyboard to my colleagues to help them transition more easily from their computers to the iPads. If you are looking for a tool that will help you to love your iPad as much as you love your computer, I definitely recommend buying this keyboard.
What I Like: Convenient; reliable; made using the iPad a truly enjoyable process; fair price
What Needs Improvement: The stand did not support the iPad, but the quick fix worked; I would like to be able to apply a back case to the iPad and still snap it into the keyboard case.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample