Apple iPad, Day 11: Using a Physical Keyboard With the iPad
The keyboard is small. The case fits the iPad 2, so you can imagine the size of the keyboard. It is like typing on a netbook. It does, however, resolve both of my complaints from Day 4, and it has some additional perks. I like having a tab key, and the directional arrow keys that are missing from the iPad virtual keyboard.
In addition, the keyboard has a row of keys across the top that provide access to special iPad functions. There is a Home button that works just like the Home button on the iPad itself--including opening the list of multitasked apps currently running. It also has keys for playing music, switching tracks, and controlling the volume, as well as for cut, copy, and paste.
One more feature of the Logitech Keyboard Case that is nice is that it works with the magic magnets of the iPad 2. Just like the Apple iPad Smart Cover, the iPad 2 will automatically lock when the case is closed, and instantly come to life when the case is opened.
I have two complaints about the Logitech Keyboard Case. It is rechargeable--which is awesome--but it recharges via USB. That means keeping it juiced depends on having a PC of some sort available which goes against the premise of using it as a PC replacement, and could keep me tethered to a PC even after iOS 5 cuts the cord for the iPad itself. I suppose I could find some other adapter to charge it via USB from the wall without adding a PC to the mix.
My other complaint is the keyboard size. I think it is great that this keyboard serves a dual function as a case, and I will definitely keep it and use it as my case so the keyboard is handy when I need it. But, for working at my desk, I think I would prefer to get the standard Apple wireless keyboard, and use the HDMI output dongle to connect the iPad 2 to my 23-inch monitor so I can really work in a mode more akin to what I am used to with my PC.
I still maintain that average users who don't write for a living don't necessarily need a physical keyboard. When iOS 5 comes out this fall that will be even more true thanks to the split keyboard mode. With iOS 5 you can use the iPad in horizontal mode with the keyboard split in half and moved to the bottom left and right corners where it can be easily accessed with your thumbs while holding the tablet. I don't recommend writing a short story that way, but I think that mode will be awesome for emails, Web surfing, and other typing tasks.
That's just me, though. If any of you have an iPad or iPad 2, feel free to chime in on the comments and let me know what you think. Is the virtual keyboard good enough? Is a physical keyboard really necessary? Do you have a particular keyboard model you prefer?