I have tried, reviewed, and stopped using so many keyboards and keyboard cases designed to work with the iPad that, quite frankly, I’ve lost count. Each time however I have returned to using the on-screen keyboard or dictating- as I am right now. It’s not that the different keyboards didn’t work – quite the contrary – in fact, some of them were rather good. It is simply the fact that I’ve been spoiled and none of those keyboards were as good as the keyboard on my MacBook Pro or iMac. In other words, in my experience even the best external iPad keyboard doesn’t come close to what Apple offers.
I’m slow but it finally dawned on me that I should simply use an Apple Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad. It sounds like an obvious solution and, in fact, it is – especially since I’m now only using a laptop and, as a result, I have two extra Apple Bluetooth keyboards available to me. But it is not as simple as it sounds and there are some additional considerations.
First, if I’m going to bring an Apple Bluetooth keyboard along with me I need a decent way to carry it. There are a few solutions out there and the two best come from Waterfield. They offer a number of different ways to carry an Apple Bluetooth keyboard.
There is the Keyboard TravelExpress. (Read the review.)
And there is the iPad Travel Express. (Read the review.)
Elana currently uses the review sample and loves it. The iPad Travel Express holds both the iPad and an Apple Bluetooth keyboard as well as a few additional accessories. It’s small, protective, and easy to bring along. The Keyboard TravelExpress is smaller and only holds the Apple keyboard and a few key accessories. That’s what I will be using.
That resolves the travel issue but it doesn’t solve the issue of having to look at, and access, the iPad while typing. There are numerous cases that include a built-in stand and those are certainly options.
Among my favorites these days is the TwelveSouth BookBook. (Read the review.) It is thinner and lighter than before and has a built-in two position stand.
But what if I want to take the keyboard and the iPad in as minimalist a way as possible? That’s where a successful KickStarter project comes in quite handy.
The WINGStand was a KickStarter project that was successfully funded and is now available on the market. Here’s a bit of their story.
When individuals discuss design they approach it from angles: that of form and that of function. However, there is a third aspect which is equally if not more important—the story. This is the story of the WINGStand. The WINGStand was conceived in a freshman dorm-room at Stanford University, designed as a tool to bring new functionality to the iPad. Up to that point, students had only been using their tablet for reading and watching movies. Typing without a tactile interface had made taking notes, writing emails, and using the iPad like a computer impossible.
The WINGStand is a simple concept that works beautifully. When it was first announced I didn’t really see the purpose. I now realize I was dead wrong. I bought one through Amazon. (You can check it out through our Affiliate Store using the link at the end of this review.) It consists of two black (or white) plastic legs that snap together when not in use. When you need it you simply pull the two apart and slide both over the battery compartment of the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. The curved area of the accessory is perfectly sized and shaped to grab the keyboard and not let go.
Extending from that curve is a subtle arc of a leg. This provides stability so that when you place the keyboard down you have the front of the keyboard sitting on your desk, the battery compartment slightly raised by the WINGStand, and the very end of the leg extending out. To look at it is to see something that is so simple and well-executed that you will wish you thought of it yourself. I certainly do.
Above the battery compartment there are notches that have a lower front portion and a much higher rear area. It sits at a subtle angle so that when you take a tablet or a smart phone and place it in the opening that device is positioned with the top angled back a bit for better viewing. It makes for a nice connected system with the tablet held in place securely and the keyboard permanently connected to the legs. It is easy to use and, best of all, when you’re done you simply pull the tablet up and out of it and go.
There is another trick the stand has up its sleeve. Because it is not precisely sized for the iPad, and because the two legs can be as close or distant form one another as you want, it not only works with all three generations of Apple’s tablet but it will also work with a variety of smartphones and numerous other tablets as well. In addition, if your iPad is in a case it may also work without having to remove it.
The WINGStand is a great idea. It is well-executed. It doesn’t do more than it needs to do but what it does it does quite well. I like it enough that I will be ordering an additional one from Amazon for the Bluetooth keyboard in my study at work. That way I’ll be able to simply pull out my iPad and get to typing in seconds.
You can learn more about it and order yours here on our Amazon Affiliate Store.
What I Like: Works well; Easily transportable; Relatively inexpensive; Universal and works with most tablets and smartphones
What Needs Improvement: Nothing except for the fact that I’m not the one who thought of it