Buying guide: Find the best iPad keyboard

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Stand-alone keyboards: Bluetooth

A stand-alone keyboard must be carried separately from your iPad, and it often requires that you have a separate iPad stand (or at least a case with a built-in stand). For these reasons, many people don’t even consider this category. But you should, because stand-alone keyboards offer a number of advantages over other types. Stand-alone keyboards usually offer full-size, high-quality keys arranged in a standard layout. Combined with a good stand, you get much better ergonomics than with a keyboard case, because you can separate the iPad and the keyboard. When you don’t need the keyboard, you can leave it behind to travel light. And with a stand-alone keyboard, you don’t need to buy a new version if you upgrade your iPad. A stand-alone keyboard also lets you use your favorite case, and it works with any iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. (Most can even be used with a Mac or Windows PC.) For all these reasons, this is my favorite type of iPad keyboard unless you spend more time with a keyboard than without—and even then, I’d at least consider a separate keyboard.

The good news is that there are plenty of excellent stand-alone iPad keyboards out there, and all of them work with any iPad model. (See the "Stand-alone stands" section, below, for stand recommendations.)

Logitech’s Easy-Switch Keyboard

Recommendations: Logitech’s $100 Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard K811 is slightly wider than Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, but it’s the same depth and a little thinner. Despite its thin profile, the Easy-Switch uses fantastic, concave-top keys in a fully standard layout, along with a full complement of iOS special-function keys. Even better, all of the keys are backlit for easier dim-light typing. And the Easy-Switch can pair with up to three devices—for example, an iPad, an iPhone, and a Mac, or even an Apple TV—simultaneously, letting you instantly switch to whichever computing device happens to be sitting in front of you. The result is that the K811 is one of my favorite keyboards for iPads and Macs. (The company also makes the Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard K810, a version for Windows, Android, and iOS.)

apple wireless keyboard
Apple’s Wireless Keyboard

Although not specifically designed for the iPad, Apple’s $69 Wireless Keyboard is a great fit for the company’s tablet. The keyboard is compact, light, and sturdy, yet it offers a full-size keyboard with the same great keys as Apple’s laptops. And many of its Mac-focused special-function keys perform similar duties when used with the iPad (namely, screen brightness, media control, and volume level; the Eject key also toggles iOS’s on-screen keyboard). You may prefer some of the other options here thanks to their additional special-function keys and lighter weight, but Apple’s Wireless Keyboard remains one of the better options—especially if you’ve already got one for your Mac that you can borrow when traveling with your iPad.

innuevo keyboard
InNuevo’s InNuevo Keyboard

If Apple were to make its Wireless Keyboard a bit thinner at the back, add a full complement of iOS special-function keys, and toss in a splash of color, you’d get InNuevo’s $50 InNuevo Keyboard. Though it sports a silver-plastic bottom and a top casing in your choice of black, green, blue, red, or white, the InNuevo Keyboard nevertheless resembles Apple’s offering thanks to full-size white keys that look and feel much like the ones on the Wireless. But at just under 11 ounces and only half an inch thick along the back edge, the InNuevo is more travel friendly, and it gives you all the iOS keys Apple’s keyboard is missing. The InNuevo Keyboard also fits snuggly into InNuevo’s Dockr 2, mentioned in the stands section, below.

Amazon’s AmazonBasics Keyboard for iPad

Honorable mentions: Amazon’s $26 AmazonBasics Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad and Genius’s LuxePad 9000 Ultra-thin Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad ($60 MSRP; roughly $35 at street prices) are variations on the same keyboard—the Amazon model is black and about half an inch shorter from front edge to back, while the Genius version is white and slightly deeper. Neither is as solid as the best models here, but each weighs under nine ounces, and apart from a difficult-to-use pod of arrow keys, each is a solid keyboard at a great price.

Logitech’s K760

Logitech’s $80 Wireless Solar Keyboard K760 (officially discontinued, but still widely available) is similar to the Easy-Switch K811, above, in that it offers a very good iOS-focused keyboard that pairs with up to three devices. But it lacks the Easy-Switch’s key backlighting, and while its solar-powered battery-charging system is convenient, the added space required by the solar cells makes the K760 considerably larger than the Easy-Switch. Still, it’s a great stand-alone keyboard if you’ll generally keep it with your computer but want to be able to use it with your iPad in a pinch.

Logitech’s Tablet Keyboard

Logitech’s third entry in this category—an impressive feat—is the $70 Tablet Keyboard for iPad. This model sports very good keys, feels rock-solid, and comes with a hardshell keyboard case that flips open to double as a sturdy iPad stand. However, the Tablet Keyboard is relatively heavy—with the case it weighs nearly 22 ounces—and it omits dedicated iOS special-function keys in favor of fn-key-modified numeral keys.

Targus’s Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad

Targus’s $64 Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad features large, easy-to-press keys and even an fn-key-activated embedded numeric keypad (like the one on many older Apple PowerBooks). While this model isn’t as solid-feeling as many of the other products recommended here, it’s light (just 9.5 ounces) and it fits full-size keys in a compact package. (Though I haven’t tested it, Anker’s T300 Ultra-Slim Mini Bluetooth 3.0 Wireless Keyboard, available for just $20 on Amazon.com, appears to be the same keyboard as the Targus Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad, but at a much lower price.)

Zagg ZaggKeys Flex
Zagg’s ZaggKeys Flex

Take Zagg’s Folio, mentioned above, and strip it down to just the keyboard, and you get the $80 ZaggKeys Flex Tablet Keyboard and Stand. With a footprint of just 9.5 by 4.7 inches, and only a third of an inch thick, the Flex is the smallest stand-alone keyboard I’ve tested that doesn’t induce typing frustration. It also comes with a rigid travel case that folds out to double as an iPad stand (though a gap in the back of the stand means it can’t prop up a portrait-orientation iPad mini). And at just over 11 ounces with the case/stand, and under 7 ounces without, the Flex won’t add much to your load. One complaint: The dedicated "Siri" key in the lower-left corner of the keyboard is really just a second Home-screen button...which means that if you accidentally hit it (which isn’t difficult to do given the keyboard’s smaller-than-standard layout), you’re whisked out of your app and back to the Home screen.

zagg universal tablet keyboard and stand
ZaggKeys Universal Tablet Keyboard and Stand

Also from Zagg is the $70 ZaggKeys Universal Tablet Keyboard and Stand. Though its individual keys are similar to those on the Flex, the body of the keyboard is slightly convex. Zagg says this is a more ergonomic design, but I’m not convinced—thanks to the curve, I found it a bit more difficult to reach the top row of keys than on the Flex. And the Universal is about half an inch deeper, front edge to back, than the Flex, and slightly thicker thanks to its curved shape. But the Universal fixes the Flex’s annoying Home-button placement, and it’s even lighter than the Flex at 6.7 ounces by itself or 10.4 ounces with the included travel case. (The case doubles as a tabletop tablet stand while you’re using the keyboard.) If you’ve got an Android or Windows tablet, a switch on the back of the Universal changes the special-function keys to work with those platforms; the downside to this flexibility is a useless-to-iPad-users Start key that displaces the left-hand Option key.

Latest update: Updated prices and product names; added mention of Anker T300. Previous update: Added Zagg’s ZaggKeys Universal and InNuevo’s InNuevo Keyboard; updated prices; removed Kensington KeyStand Compact Keyboard & Stand, which has been discontinued.

Stand-alone keyboards: Wired

Most iPad keyboards connect wirelessly, using Bluetooth. But there are times when Bluetooth isn’t an option, such as when you’re on a plane and not allowed to use wireless technology, or when you don’t want to worry about battery life or charging the keyboard. And some situations just aren’t suited to Bluetooth pairing, such as a classroom full of iPads that share a keyboard or two, or if you’re looking for a keyboard for someone who may not be tech savvy enough to deal with potential pairing issues. In these circumstances, a wired keyboard is a better option—you just plug in and start typing.

The downside to the wired approach is that your iPad’s stand or case must keep the tablet’s Lightning- or 30-pin-connector port accessible, but the upside is an instant, no-hassle connection, along with the capability to quickly move the keyboard between devices. (Wired keyboards are powered by your iPad—they don’t require charging or batteries.)

Macally iKeyLT
Macally’s iKeyLT

The best wired iPad keyboard I’ve seen is Macally’s $60 iKey Wired Keyboard. Available in two versions, the iKeyLT Lightning Wired Keyboard (shown here, for Lightning-connector devices) and the iKey30 30 Pin Wired Keyboard (for older, 30-pin dock-connector devices), this keyboard features full-size keys in a standard layout, and it connects to your iPad (or other iOS device) using a 3-foot cable. It also includes a few other niceties, including dedicated keys for undo, redo, and taking a screenshot, as well as keys for typing €, £, ¥, .com, .net, .org, and .biz. Both models come with a fold-up iPad stand, but that stand is flimsy and feels like an afterthought.

belkin secure wired keyboard for ipad
Belkin’s Secure Wired Keyboard for iPad

A close second is Belkin’s $60 Secure Wired Keyboard for iPad, also available in both Lightning-connector and 30-pin versions. This one is quite a bit larger than the MacAlly model—specifically, it’s a bit thicker and a couple inches deeper—but it offers widely-spaced keys with longer key travel, resulting in a typing experience that feels a bit closer to that of a desktop keyboard than a laptop. The keys are slightly mushy, but I suspect that many people will still prefer them for their tactile feedback. Because of the keyboard’s desktop-style size, the arrow keys are large and separated from the main keyboard area, and the keys along each edge (Tab, Caps Lock, Shift, Enter, and so on) are considerably larger than on most portable keyboards, making for easier touch-typing. The Secure Wired Keyboard is designed for use in schools and feels exceptionally sturdy—it should hold up to reasonable abuse. The downsides here are that the keyboard offers fewer special-function keys than you’ll find on the MacAlly model (just media-playback-control, volume/mute, Home, and screen lock), and the two-foot cable might be too short for some situations.

griffin technology wired keyboard for ios devices
Griffin Technology’s Wired Keyboard for iOS Devices

Honorable mentions: Griffin Technology’s $60 Wired Keyboard for iOS Devices is the lightest and most compact wired keyboard I’ve tested, making it a nice option for travel—it looks and feels a lot like the Targus Bluetooth stand-alone keyboard mentioned above, only with a silver-plastic body instead of black (and without the Targus model’s handy overlaid number pad). The low-profile keys are roughly the same size as those on Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, though they don’t have as much travel or tactile feedback—I occasionally didn’t press a key firmly enough to register a keystroke. The keyboard uses a 3.5-foot cable, and is available in both Lightning-connector and 30-pin versions.

logitech wired keyboard for ipad
Logitech’s Wired Keyboard for iPad

Logitech’s $60 Wired Keyboard for iPad, also available in both Lightning-connector and 30-pin versions, is another solid offering designed specifically for schools. It features a rugged, spill-resistant design and a shorter cable. However, the Logitech keyboard is even thicker than the Belkin model, and its keys aren’t quite as responsive.

Latest update: Added Belkin Secure Wireless Keyboard and Griffin Technology Wired Keyboard for iPad. Previous update: Added Logitech Wired Keyboad for iPad.

Desktop keyboards and desktop/tablet hybrids

If you generally use an external keyboard only when at your desk, you might want to consider forgoing travel-friendly size and weight in favor of some desktop niceties. Several vendors make keyboards designed to be used at a desk that add features you won’t find in a portable model. Other vendors make keyboards that can pair with multiple devices—say, your desktop computer, your laptop, and your iPad—and let you easily switch your Bluetooth connection between those devices, so you can use a single keyboard with all your gear. You’ll still need a stand, but you’ll have one less keyboard on your desk.

Recommendations: I already recommended (in the stand-alone keyboard section, above) Logitech’s excellent Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard K811 and Wireless Solar Keyboard K760. Each of these models can pair with multiple devices, and each works great as a keyboard for both an iPad and a desktop computer simultaneously. They’re my favorite multi-device keyboards.

Matias’s Tactile One

Matias, the well-known maker of mechanical-keyswitch keyboards such as the Quiet Pro, offers a number of desktop/iOS hybrid models. The $200 Tactile One Keyboard is a full-size desktop keyboard that uses the same excellent keys as the popular Tactile Pro but adds Bluetooth and a USB 3.0 hub. You connect the Tactile One to your computer via USB, and to your iPad (or other iOS device) via Bluetooth; a button on the keyboard lets you toggle between the USB and Bluetooth connections. A cushioned pad, positioned between the main key area and the numeric keypad, lets you keep your smartphone close at hand. (The One line is officially designed for the iPhone, but it works just as well with the iPad.)

If you prefer a compact keyboard, Matias’s $50 Slim One Keyboard is based on the same concept as the Tactile One, but instead of a full-size keyboard with a number pad, the Slim is about the size of Apple’s wired keyboard and uses similar flat, low-profile keys. Those keys are pretty good as iPad keyboards go, though they’re not quite as good as the keys on Apple’s own keyboards. Both One keyboards are handy if you tend to use your iPad at your desk for, say, reading and posting to Twitter, or for taking quick notes.

Honorable mentions: Matias’s $100 One Keyboard is similar to the Tactile One but uses less-expensive (and less-tactilely-pleasing) keys; it also includes a USB 2.0 hub instead of USB 3.0.

Kanex Multi-Sync Keyboard layout
Kanex’s Multi-Sync Keyboard

Like Logitech’s Easy-Switch K811 keyboard, Kanex’s $69 Multi-Sync Keyboard can pair with multiple iOS devices and Macs simultaneously, letting you switch between paired devices with a button press. But the Multi-Sync also includes a USB port for connecting directly to your computer, leaving you with all three Bluetooth slots for iOS devices (or other computers). The Multi-Sync also offers a full-size design, complete with a numeric keypad, and it includes a great iPad stand that I also recommend separately in the next section. However, the Kanex keyboard’s keys aren’t nearly as good as those on the Logitech or Matias models.

Finally, it’s worth noting that you can use many standard USB keyboards with an iPad via Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adapter for Lightning-connector iPads, or the older 30-pin version for 30-pin-dock-connector iPads. As long as the keyboard doesn’t require too much power—for example, some keyboards with backlit keys need more juice—it should work fine, though you’ll miss out on iOS-specific keys.

Stand-alone stands and keyboard accessories

If you’re using a stand-alone keyboard, and your iPad’s case doesn’t include a suitable stand—I’m a fan of ZeroChroma’s Vario-SC line of stand cases—you’ll need a separate stand to prop up your tablet.

Travel stands My current favorites for travel are Kanex’s Foldable iDevice Stand ($20 for two), Cooler Master’s $30 Jas mini, Twelve South’s $40 Compass 2 Mobile Stand, and Rain Design’s $40 iSlider iPad Pocket Stand. The Kanex stand weighs less than an ounce and folds into an almost-flat package, yet it offers multiple angles and is surprisingly sturdy. It’s also a fantastic value. The stylish Jas mini weighs just 2.7 ounces, but it’s made of anodized aluminum and is available in multiple colors. My only complaint is that the lip on Jas mini’s cradle is a bit shallow for an iPad in a case, especially if that case has a smooth finish.

portable ipad stands 201407
The Compass (left), Foldable iDevice Stand (center-left), Jas mini (center-right) and iSlider (right)

The Compass 2 is heavier (8.2 ounces) and it offers just two angles—one upright and one for onscreen typing—but it’s more stable than the iDevice Stand and Jas mini when used with an iPad in portrait orientation, and it folds up to a size that’s not much larger than a few pens. (Compared to the original Compass, the Compass 2 is more stable, especially in portrait orientation.) The iSlider (7.5 ounces) is the bulkiest of the bunch, but it’s also the sturdiest, and its clever design offers a range of angles, from nearly horizontal to nearly vertical.

Less-portable stands If you’ll be using your iPad/keyboard combo mainly at your desk, consider Heckler Design’s $49 @Rest for iPad, a heavy, rock-solid stand that offers several angles and compatibility with a range of cases—it would be tough to find a more-stable stand. Rain Design’s $40 iRest Lap Stand lifts your iPad higher than most, and it doubles as a comfortable stand for propping your iPad in your lap when you’re lounging. For something more compact, Gogo’s $25 Stump Tablet Stand is a staff favorite—thanks to its chunky profile, sticky bottom, and nearly 9-ounce weight, it offers a stable base that doesn’t slide around, yet it doesn’t take up much room on your desk.

irest stump atrest ipad stands
The iRest Lap Stand (left), Stump (center), and @Rest (right)

Stands for Apple’s Wireless Keyboard If you’re using Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard, a slew of stands are available that are specifically designed to pair it with an iPad. A longtime favorite is Incase’s $30 Origami Workstation, which encloses your Wireless Keyboard in a sturdy travel case that unfolds into a solid iPad stand when it’s time to get to work. The stand even works in a pinch for typing on your lap.

origami workstation nimblstand
Incase’s Origami Workstation (left) and the Nimblstand (right)

A similar, though less svelte, option is the Touchtype ($49 for polyurethane; $99 for leather), a folio-style case that holds both your iPad and Apple’s Wireless Keyboard for travel. When you’re ready to type, slip the keyboard out of the case and the case becomes an iPad stand for either portrait- or landscape-orientation use. However, the current version of the Touchtype doesn’t fit the iPad Air or iPad mini.

touchtype ipad case stand 2
The Touchtype stand/case

The $40 Nimblstand is a nifty Apple Wireless Keyboard stand for those who need to type and draw. The keyboard slides into a groove in the front, and your iPad rests in a thin cradle just above the keyboard. A stabilizing wedge in back allows your iPad to lean much farther than with most stands, even in portrait orientation, making it easier to view the screen while typing. When you want to sketch or draw—or just to read something on the screen without hands—you move that wedge to the other side (under the keyboard), flip the stand around, and the Nimblstand’s second cradle holds your iPad at an even-closer-to-horizontal angle that’s great for onscreen strokes. There’s even a slot to hold a Wacom Bamboo Stylus.

MyKeyO’s $35 silicone Executive Restt is weighted in the rear for a flexible-yet-stable design. The front of the Restt fits Apple’s Wireless Keyboard perfectly, and a wide slot in the rear props up any iPad in either orientation, even in a thin case—though it’s tough to press the iPad’s Home button in portrait orientation. What makes the Restt unique is a slew of organizational features: You get two stylus/pen holders, two business-card slots, and—my favorite—a hidden desktop organizer. Just lift the front of the keyboard, like the top of an old-fashioned school desk, to reveal five small compartments for desk supplies. The Restt is available in eight colors and comes with a five-year warranty. (MyKeyO also sells a $70 version that includes the company’s own Bluetooth keyboard.)

restt tablettray ipad stands
The Restt (left) and TabletTray (right)

If you’re looking for something with a bit more style, the German-made Woody’s TabletTray (67€) is CNC-carved, hand sanded, environmentally friendly, and fits Apple’s Wireless Keyboard precisely. It’s available in your choice of walnut, cherry, or maple—I’m partial to the walnut model. A slot at the rear holds your iPad (any size, even in a thin case) at a pretty good angle in landscape or portrait orientation; a cutout at the front of the slot lets you access the iPad’s Home button in portrait orientation. It’s a very attractive package that looks great on a desk, and it also works well for typing on your lap, though when used on your lap with a full-size iPad, it’s more stable in landscape orientation than portrait. (The company ships to the U.S., or you can purchase from AhaLife.)

ethic wingstand
Ethic’s WingStand

For something a bit more minimalist, and portable in a pinch, Ethic’s $15 WingStand consists of two small pieces of plastic that slide onto the cylindrical rear edge of the Wireless Keyboard. These plastic pieces form a cradle for your iPad or other iOS device in landscape or portrait orientation. The WingStand isn’t very versatile—it doesn’t work with thicker cases, it’s intended for use only on a desktop or other flat surface, and it works only with Apple’s keyboard—but it’s sturdy and inexpensive.

Finally, if you’ve got Apple’s Wireless Keyboard or InNuevo’s InNuevo Keyboard (mentioned above), the $115 Dockr 2 (iPad 1, 2, 3, 4) is an interesting option. It looks much like a laptop, but when you open the lid, the base offers a well that’s custom-fit for either of these two keyboards; the lid becomes an adjustable stand that holds any iPad model in portrait or landscape orientation. (It doesn’t hold the iPad Air or iPad mini firmly, so you won’t want to carry those iPad models inside; the iPad 1, 2, 3, and 4 fit more securely.) The Dockr 2 also includes a set of Bluetooth speakers and a battery that adds a bit of extra use time to your iPad. The speakers are fairly tinny, and the case is plasticky and bulky, but the Dockr is great on your lap, and it could be a nice option for a classroom. (The company sells the Dockr 2 and InNuevo Keyboard together for $150.)

innuevo dockr2
InNuevo’s Dockr 2

For other stand options, check out our chart of stand reviews.

Keyboard bags and cases: If you frequently travel with a stand-alone keyboard, you might also consider a pouch or bag for carrying it. WaterField Designs offers a number of nice options, including one that holds both your iPad and a keyboard. I personally use WaterField’s lightweight, padded Keyboard Socket ($15), which fits a number of the stand-alone keyboards I recommend above.

Latest update: Added Cooler Master’s Jas mini, MyKeyO’s Restt, and Woody’s TabletTray; updated prices. Previous update: Added Kanex’s Foldable iDevice Stand, Gogo’s Stump Stand, the Nimblstand, and InNuevo’s Dockr 2; updated prices; removed Griffin Technology’s Xpo Compact Universal Tablet Stand, which has been discontinued.

iPad mini keyboards

Apple’s iPad mini and Retina iPad mini have turned out to be even more popular than their full-size counterparts. But the mini’s smaller screen means that it’s even more difficult to do serious typing using iOS’s software keyboard—which for some people will make a physical keyboard that much more appealing.

However, all the usability trade-offs I mentioned for iPad keyboard cases affect iPad mini keyboard cases even more: Because the iPad mini has a considerably smaller footprint, any keyboard case that tries to match that footprint must incorporate an even more-cramped keyboard, with even smaller keys, than would a keyboard for a full-size iPad. Most iPad mini keyboard cases we’ve tested omit some keys altogether, or at best relegate them to fn-key-enabled functions of remaining keys.

I’ve tested many iPad mini-sized keyboard cases, and while they vary in design and key quality, I’ve found most of them to be exceedingly frustrating to use for touch-typing. A number of them have keyboards that just feel cheap and flimsy, and most are so cramped, and have enough keys in non-standard locations, that I couldn’t type a sentence without multiple errors. Others, such as Genius’s LuxePad i9010 Ultra-Thin Keyboard for iPad mini, Kensington’s KeyCover Hard Shell Keyboard for iPad mini, Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini and Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini, and Zagg’s Mini 7 (formerly called ZaggKeys Mini 7), use higher-quality keys, but in the case of the Ultrathin models, some are just too small for comfortable use, and on the LuxePad i9010, Hard Shell Keyboard, and Mini 7, larger key size has been achieved by placing some keys in non-standard locations and by overlaying commonly used keys, requiring the fn key to access the overlays.

In short, if you’re a hunt-and-peck typist, some iPad mini keyboard cases may be acceptable to you, but touch-typists like me will largely be disappointed. That said, there are a few models that stand out from the rest.

Recommendations: As you may have guessed, I don’t have any strong recommendations here. If you’re a touch-typist, and you don’t need to type on your lap, consider going with a stand-alone keyboard instead. (Even if you do need to type on your lap, consider a stand-alone keyboard with one of the lap-friendly stands or cases recommended above.) You’ll get a much better typing experience, you won’t ruin the iPad mini’s thin profile and light weight, and you can leave the keyboard behind when you want to travel light—which, if you’ve got an iPad mini, is likely a good deal of the time.

Zagg’s ZaggKeys Mini 9

Honorable mentions: If you truly need a keyboard that fits the iPad mini’s profile, a few models get my limited recommendation. If you don’t mind a bit of extra bulk, Zagg’s ZaggKeys Mini 9 (officially discontinued, but currently available for as little as $19 on Amazon.com) forgoes an iPad mini-matching footprint in favor of a better typing experience. The Mini 9 is about an inch and a half wider than the Mini 7 mentioned above (9.6 versus 8.1 inches), but is the same depth and thickness. Your iPad looks a bit odd in the Mini 9’s too-long case, but it fits snuggly (almost too snuggly—it’s a bit of a challenge to remove the iPad, especially the iPad mini with Retina display, which is slightly thicker than the original model). In return for putting up with this extra length, however, you get a keyboard that’s about the same size as you’d find in a standard iPad keyboard case. In other words, the keyboard is somewhat cramped, but entirely useable, with all the keys in the correct places. The Mini 9 even lets you type in your lap. Though the Mini 9 was one of the first iPad mini cases on the market, it’s still my overall favorite, despite the larger-than-a-mini size, because I can actually type on it.

Zagg’s ZaggKeys Cover

Zagg also has a couple other decent offerings, the $100 Folio for iPad mini (formerly called ZaggKeys Folio for iPad mini) and the $100 Cover for iPad mini (formerly called ZaggKeys Cover for iPad mini). Each uses the same backlit keyboard and is roughly the same size as the iPad mini itself. The main difference is that the Folio uses a plastic back shell that holds your iPad; the Cover features a hinge into which you slide the iPad, using your iPad itself as the lid of a makeshift laptop—the Cover doesn’t actually cover the mini’s backside. (If you read the sections on keyboards for full-size iPads, above, these are simply iPad mini versions of Zagg’s standard Folio and Cover keyboards.) The keys aren’t full size, but most of the main keys are large enough and, as we pointed out in our review, you can actually type on them. To fit everything, however, other keys are half-width, while a few serve fn-enabled double duty. The result is, as with other iPad mini keyboards, a good amount of compromise, but if you want a keyboard that matches your iPad mini’s footprint, these two offer the best set of compromises we’ve seen. (Which to choose? Check out our full review for the relative merits of each.)

new trent airbender minis
New Trent’s Airbender Mini (left) and Airbender Mini 1.0 (right)

Finally, New Trent’s $41 Airbender Mini and $36 Airbender Mini 1.0, like the full-size Airbenders mentioned above, have cramped keyboards with keys that feel just okay. But as with their larger siblings, after opening the case/screen on the Airbender Mini, you can rotate the iPad into portrait orientation; the hinge can detach from the keyboard to become an independent stand for a more ergonomic typing setup; and a quick-release clip lets detach your iPad completely from the stand/hinge for use sans keyboard. The Airbender Mini’s case section is all-over protective: There’s a rigid shell on the back; a plastic front with a use-through, transparent screen cover; and a silicone jacket that wraps around everything.

The Airbender Mini 1.0 is less rugged—its case is a thinner shell without the silicone jacket or screen protector—and instead of using a removable hinge/stand, the 1.0 uses a laptop-style hinge that also swivels 180 degrees (much like the Clamcase, above). The result is that the 1.0 has a considerably thinner profile, though it loses a lot of the versatility of the non-1.0 Airbender Mini.

Latest update: Added information about the Airbender Mini 1.0; updated names of Zagg keyboards; updated prices. Previous update: Added mention of Kensington and Genius iPad mini keyboards and Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini.

This story, "Buying guide: Find the best iPad keyboard" was originally published by Macworld.

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