There are times when you need to write something on the iPad that is just too long for the software keyboard. Sure you can carry a Bluetooth keyboard, but that may become cumbersome and heavy. That’s where having a mini Bluetooth keyboard built into a case for the iPad comes in. Sure, it is a relatively new concept, but by combining the keyboard with the familiar and popular folio style iPad case, many of the limitations people find with the iPad can be resolved. Finding the perfect solution, however, is difficult at best. Several companies have provided options. One of them, Sena — the creators of elegant, hand crafted leather cases — has an offering. They were kind enough to provide one of their iPad Keyboard Folio cases for us to review. Let’s dig in!
Anytime you see a Sena product you can be guaranteed a few things. First off, the leather is always superb. The case is hand-crafted from high quality, full grain leather. The look and feel of the leather is exquisite. It even smells great! Yes, I am a sucker for fine leather products, and Sena produces just that!
Remember that with all fine leather items, the case will only look better as it ages and gain “personality”. The case is elegant and will fit in all situations, from business meetings to watching a movie at home.
A folio case means that the case will fold in half and open like a book. The Sena case measures 9 5/8″ x 7 1/2″ when fully closed and is only 1 1/4″ thick. This does add a bit of bulk to the iPad, but I see it as a small compromise considering the functionality the case brings. The iPad slips in from the underside of the “iPad pocket”, and a strap slides back into the case to hold it securely inside. By inserting the iPad from this direction there is no threat of the iPad falling out. Cutouts in the case maintain the functionality of all of the buttons and rockers. When inside, the home button sits on the right side when the iPad is sitting in landscape on a surface.
The design is such that the iPad can be charged while inside the case.
I should note that the cutouts in the sample I received do not line up perfectly with the button or ports to which they are meant to allow access; even though the holes are a bit off, I found that I lost no functionality.
The backside of the case sports a collapsible stand to allow the iPad to sit upright while using the keyboard or watching a movie. To maintain a sleek profile the stand is slightly recessed when collapsed. It is held in place by a metal snap.
The design is such that using the stand on a table is easy, but it will not work when the iPad is sitting in your lap.
To keep the folio from opening when not in use, a strap with the same metal snap allows you to carry or store the iPad with confidence.
As noted previously, the case is gorgeous and made with high quality leather. I love the look and design. You must keep in mind that the fit of each case will probably be slightly different since it is a handmade product. While the fit may differ from case to case, the quality and elegance will be the same regardless.
We all know that Sena leather products are beautiful and high quality, but what about the functionality of the bluetooth keyboard in the Keyboard Folio? It is worth noting that the keyboard does seem to be nearly identical to a similar case I already reviewed right here. It seems obvious that they were both manufactured by the same electronics company and then supplied to Sena and numerous other iPad accessory manufacturers.
The keyboard boasts 45 hours of battery life while in use and 55 hours of stand by time. They keyboard is a bit smaller than a full size or laptop keyboard, but within a few minutes of using it, I adapted. I especially liked the soft feel of the keys and the silicone cover which should help protect the keyboard from moisture.
To fit all of the keys into the limited space, some of the usual keys will be in slightly different locations. For instance, there is only one Shift key and it is on the left. It literally only took a few minutes to get used to layout since most of the common keys will be in their usual locations, but new users will find that there is a bit of a learning curve.
Twelve function keys are provided and give access to all of the standard audio controls. The Play/Pause, as well as forward and reverse keys, work with any media app that is currently open on the iPad. Next to these keys are volume and mute controls. The top right key doubles as a home button which allows you to keep your hands on the keyboard as you navigate the iPad.
As is the case with most Bluetooth devices, the initial pairing process with your iPad requires entry of a unique pairing code. Once the code is entered, however (via the Settings on the iPad) the keyboard will automatically pair with the iPad each time it is turned on.
The keyboard is not the best, but is is fully functional and simple to use. Having a keyboard does make it far easier to write long posts, articles or homework assignments on the iPad.
There are people who have resisted jumping into the iPad world simply because they need to enter large amounts of text and find the onscreen keyboard too limiting. The Sena Keyboard Folio for iPad solves that issue and brings that functionality to the iPad in a sleek, elegant package. If you are a fan of fine leather and hand-made craftsmanship, and want a keyboard to use with your iPad, this case won’t disappoint. Sena’s products are fantastic, and once you add in the full QWERTY keyboard with all of the function keys, your iPad can be transformed into a sleek and classy work station.
What I Like: The high quality of all Sena leather products and the full functioning Bluetooth keyboard
What Needs Improvement: I do wish the fit around the iPad and keyboard was tightened up a bit