The right keyboard case for your iPad Air 2 will not only keep your tablet investment safe but makes using the iPad more productive than ever. The $149.99 Incipio ClamCase+ iPad Air 2 Bluetooth Keyboard is such a case. It offers a variety of uses, a nice assortment of specialty keys, and it even offers a backlit keyboard!
When I met Raina, her iPad was a bit dated. I got her an iPad Air 2, and she seems quite happy with it. It is, in fact, rare for me to see her using her MacBook Pro. Yup, like so many, the iPad is her main large-size mobile device. She has never had a keyboard case for it, so when a review sample of the ClamCase+ became available I scooped it up. As Carly noted recently, mobile device accessory maker Incipio has been on a buying spree and, most recently, acquired Griffin Technologies. ClamCase is another such company. As such, the review complete that arrived is actually the Incipio ClamCase+ for iPad Air. At $149.99, it isn’t the least expensive keyboard case one could find, but it is a great choice; here’s why.
The case offers an LED backlit keyboard to make typing at night easy, a protective frame to keep your iPad protected, and “intelligent internal technology” that, among other things, automatically activates sleep and wake functionality in order to save battery life.
In addition, the smart hinge allows you to customize the viewing and typing angle to your liking so you get the best and most efficient productivity process possible. As a result of all of these, Incipio feels justified to claim that, “ClamCase+ is an exceptional accessory for your iPad Air 2. Slimmest in its class, ClamCase+ transforms your mobile iPad Air 2 experience, with the functionality of a laptop and the portability of a tablet.”
Inside the box is the ClamCase+ for iPad Air 2, the USB Cable, and a Quick Startup Guide. Charging the keyboard case is accomplished via a power adapter or USB connection using the included USB to microUSB cable. At the back of the left side is an on/off toggle that lets you manually turn the keyboard on and off and LED indication lights provide information on battery life, pairing, power activation, and charge. The combination of the lithium-ion battery, Bluetooth 3.0 chip, and intelligent internal technology mean you will get “weeks of use on a single charge”. Broken down, that translates to 6 hours of uninterrupted use if the backlighting is on and 100 hours of use if the backlighting is off. Rounding out these specifics is the fact that the keyboard has three months of standby time, and it takes just three hours to fully charge. The battery indicator lets you know how much charge is remaining so you won’t find yourself needing to use the keyboard only to discover that you have no juice.
The keyboard also boasts an array of specialty keys. These include a Home button, the ability to call up the On-Screen Keyboard, a Lock button, Volume controls, Siri activation, a Search button, Media controls and the ability to adjust the brightness.
I like this keyboard case a lot. It is light but feels substantial. The aluminum and polycarbonate enclosure protects the iPad and is rigid enough to create a stable typing platform, but it also allows you to insert and remove the iPad with ease. It is, as one might expect, specifically designed for the buttons and ports of the iPad Air 2. The island-style keys are comfortable to the on and offer just enough “play” for my tastes. It includes a smart sleep/awake functionality so you won’t unwittingly run down your iPad battery.
The real key to this keyboard case (pun intended) is the smart hinge. It is great, and it offers a variety of modes of use.
Typing Mode: When using the iPad in typing mode the hinge can be adjusted to pretty much any angle. That’s a great feature that really does move the iPad in the direction of a laptop replacement.
Tablet Mode: The smart hinge can flip completely around and lets the keyboard lay flat against the iPad. This gets you back to the original iPad shape albeit with a slight addition to the length and width. Of course in this mode, the device is thicker but it does give you the familiar tablet profile if you are, for example, earning a book or a magazine. The downside here is that when using the iPad and ClamCase+ in tablet mode, the keyboard is now the “back” of the iPad, and when holding it you’ll end up grabbing the keys.
Viewing Mode: The smart hinge lets the keyboard flip to the back so you can view videos hands-free without having to have the keyboard between you and the screen.
Tent Mode: The ClamCase+ also works in tent mode so you can view content hands-free without having the keyboard sitting between you and the screen. Here again, the smart hinge comes in handy because you can set it to pretty much any angle you want and it will hold that angle. There is, Raina discovered when using it this way this afternoon, a downside to this mode. When placing the iPad tent mode, the edge of the iPad with the volume buttons sits on the surface you are placing the iPad on. The iPad and keyboard case have enough weight that she found them pressing the buttons and adjusting the volume without her wanting any sort of change.
- Spacious island style keyboard
- Aluminum and polycarbonate enclosure
- Patented hinge with infinite viewing angles
- iPad wakes and sleeps automatically
- Easily insert and remove iPad
- Bluetooth auto pair
- Auto on/off keyboard
- Built-in rechargeable Lithium-ion Polymer battery
The $149.99 Incipio ClamCase+ for iPad Air 2 is a great keyboard case. The light but strong design protects the iPad without making it too heavy to carry throughout the day. The dedicated power toggle plus the intelligent circuitry let you maximize battery life. The keyboard is easy to type on, includes specialty shortcut keys and is backlit. All of that comes together to create a keyboard case that lets you iPad function as a small laptop. That’s great for productivity and, since there are times when you want to use your iPad as a tablet or for watching videos, the smart hinge’s ability to flip around and let you use the iPad in tablet or tent mode is great. Yes, there is a potential issue with the tent mode interacting with the volume buttons, but this shouldn’t be a huge issue for most people. In all, this keyboard case is a great option if you are looking to get the most out of your iPad!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the Incipio ClamCase+ for iPad Air 2
What I Like: Surprisingly light; Backlit keyboard; Smart hinge holds screen at a huge range of angles; works in tablet and tent modes; Smart keys on keyboard.
What Needs Improvement: In tent mode, the volume buttons can be activated.