Apple iPad, Day 11: Using a Physical Keyboard With the iPad

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30 Days With the iPad: Day 11

Since I began the 30 Days With the iPad journey, I have had comments, emails, tweets, and other communications from interested readers inquiring about whether or not I plan to use an external keyboard, or directly asking me to try out one or more physical keyboard options. Today I am checking out one such physical keyboard.

Let me start by reiterating something I have said repeatedly in the past--I don't have any problem typing on the virtual keyboard. I find the touchscreen to be sensitive and responsive enough to keep up a reasonable typing pace. However, as I pointed out on Day 4, there are some other reasons I don't prefer the virtual keyboard. The virtual keyboard takes up half of the display, and I have to choose between having the iPad in a good position to be a keyboard, or a good position to be a display--while I need it to be both.

The Apple Keyboard Dock for iPad only works in portrait mode and doesn't travel well.
So, which keyboard am I using? The default option may seem like it would be to just get the Apple Keyboard Dock for the iPad, but there are a plethora of keyboard options available for the iPad and iPad 2. I chose the Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 (from ZAGG).

There are a couple of very simple reasons why I went with this keyboard rather than the Apple keyboard. First, the Apple keyboard is not very practical from a mobile computing standpoint. It means having to carry two separate things around with me which is a burden I am not really interested in if it can be avoided.

Second, the Apple Keyboard Dock holds the iPad up in portrait mode (so it can plug into the dock connector on the bottom), but I prefer to use the iPad 2 in landscape mode for most tasks. Third, according to customer reviews of the Apple Keyboard Dock, it doesn't play nice with some iPad 2 cases, and it would be a pain to have to take the iPad out of its case every time to dock it.

The Logitech Keyboard Case has the added advantage of being a case. That means that even though I have to carry it around with me, it is not a separate item--it just becomes part of carrying the iPad. Obviously it adds to both the bulk and the weight of the tablet, but even with the case it is significantly thinner and lighter than my notebook.

When I want to use it, I can just slide the iPad--in either landscape or portrait mode--into a slot above the keyboard. It is quite sturdy as long as it is level or tilted back. If you happen to tilt it slightly toward you, though, the iPad may tumble forward.

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