Brookstone Bluetooth Keyboard w/ Portfolio Case for iPad 2
By Troy Saxton-Getty
We always like taking extended trips because it is the perfect field environment to test new tools, gadgets and fun stuff. Not to mention paying full price in the usually well stocked airport technology stores in most major international airports which have very strong techno-gravity. Today is more of an “I’ and less of a “we” article. Gill is on another plane from the east coast to Singapore and I launched to catch up from San Francisco. (SFO)(KSFO for your pilots!)
I can’t wait to find out what fun gadgets Gill is testing along the way, always great stuff.
I haven’t been into Brookstone in quite a while, I must say, they have really up’ed their game for electronic goodies. Right at the front door I was met with a very interesting iPad2 case which includes a Bluetooth keyboard, I had to test it out! Before I left the store, I had made 2 additional purchases, one at a time, out with the credit card, sign and a valiant attempt to walk out, only to find myself stumbling onto something else that was worthy of an international trip and test in the real-world. (more on this in future articles)
So let’s talk about the iPad2 keyboard and case, at $99USD, I was a wondering if it would be another purchase worthy of the price or would I try it and toss it aside for the next new and cool case. I was also a bit concerned as these smaller keyboards tend to be tough to use with my fairly large hands and fingers and I get frustrated quickly trying to type anything lengthy.
True test, could I type comfortably for multiple documents both complex and simple using the keyboard with the iPad2. I have been fiddling with it for the past few hours on the flight and decided to write this article with the new keyboard / case. So far, so good. We have purchased 3 or so Bluetooth keyboards for use with iPads, including the Apple keyboard, which is the gold standard as far as we are concerned, it’s actually the same Bluetooth keyboard that you can use with their computer lineup and it is nearly perfect, just a tad too large to put in the travel backpack.
Brookstone has a previous model for iPad (first generation) which is still being sold in the store, that keyboard/case combo had rubbery type water proof looking keys and the action was quite a bit less than natural, I found it awkward to use for anything lengthy and after a few days I gave it to a friend, only to be out nearly a cool hundy.
In this test I will use the iPad2 keyboard & case for my day to day work and personal stuff and get back to this article after I have survived 10+ lengthy pages of typing, thousands of emails and so on.
Well, I am back and its day 6, I am using the keyboard on the airplane again from Singapore to Chennai India. I’ve used it all week and I must say, I think it is a keeper keyboard and case combination, even with quite a bit of turbulence on the flight I am finding it comfortable to type and I noticed I keep reaching for the trackpad as if this keyboard is on my Macbook Air so my brain must be fooled.
I have used the keyboard for just about everything in my daily life so far, very happy with it, it is a dramatic improvement over the version 1 case/keyboard from the same company.
My only two gripes are the standard MiniUSB port for charging the Bluetooth radio and the standby mode of the keyboard. After a year or more of buying electronics which have converted fully to the MicroUSB I have to make sure to carry a MiniUSB plug charger again, this isn’t that big of a deal since I tend to carry a charger / battery backup with multiple adapters, but it is just odd that they would have picked the older and mostly outdated plug format for charging. On regular trips I don’t see this as much of a problem as the documentation shows the full charge lasts for up to a month.. so far, so good, I will let it run out since the initial charge and see how well it actually lasts.
My other gripe is that when you are reading over a document or pause for a few minutes the keyboard goes into standby mode (This is probably why the battery lasts so long!) and the on-screen keyboard pops up like a normal iPad without a keyboard attached, not that big of a deal, but if you are using your finger to scroll to edit or move around it makes for a little awkward navigation. It also takes a keystroke to wake it up, which, if not paying attention, you will lose the first character you type after the 40 second stand-by mode. After you get used to this it’s not that big of a deal, if you are reading back over the document using your finger to scroll and 40 seconds goes by without touching the keyboard, it goes into standby, pops up the on-screen keyboard, at this point, simply press any key, wait 1 second and now start typing again. I would have set the stand-by to several minutes and on average use you wouldn’t even notice this wonkiness.
Overall the keyboard / case combination is worthy of the purchase for the iPad 2, its a high quality leather case, nice stitching, its holds the iPad 2 nicely and doesn’t let it move around, when closed, the keyboard doubles as more protection for the screen and it isn’t to bulky. I have dropped it from waist height a few times and it has protected the iPad 2 well, without anything on the iPad 2 connecting to the floor. I am going to recommend this as a good buy… I am really enjoying it. More to come!