Azio Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard hands-on

Built for iPads (but also suitable for iPhones and Macs), this finger-friendly keyboard is a fine alternative to Apple's portrait-only Keyboard Dock.

The Azio Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard is a winner, offering quiet, comfy keys and easy pairing with an iPad, iPhone, or Mac.
The Azio Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard is a winner, offering quiet, comfy keys and easy pairing with an iPad, iPhone, or Mac. Azio

Can an iPad really take the place of a laptop? For many users, the answer would be: "Not without a real keyboard."

I hear that. Though I'm able to manage some basic touch-typing with the iPad's onscreen keys, my fingers don't fly nearly as nimbly as they do with a real set of QWERTYs.

Apple's iPad Keyboard Dock is one option, but it forces you into a portrait orientation--and costs $69. For something a little more affordable, check out the Azio KB333BM Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard. (As opposed to a wired Bluetooth keyboard, I guess.)

Priced at $49.99, the Azio keyboard offers a full set of perfectly sized, perfectly spaced keys. It's actually quite like a Mac keyboard, and in fact can be paired with a Mac (and an iPhone, and probably anything else that accepts Bluetooth input).

Having spent some time composing notes, e-mails, and other documents, I have this to say about the Azio: it rocks. The keys are comfy, the feedback is just how I like it, and the Bluetooth pairing works beautifully. Even if I haven't touched the keyboard for a week. A couple of "wake-up" taps instantly re-establish the connection with my iPad. (The battery-sipping keyboard goes into standby mode after two hours of inactivity.)

Many of the available extra keys (like F1-F16, Command, Home, etc.) are useless in iPad apps, but others--like the play/pause/volume controls doubled onto some of the function keys--work very nicely.

I think my only complaint with the keyboard is that it's not particularly portable. I mean, it's thin and fairly lightweight, but also considerably longer than the iPad itself. You could toss it in a carry-on bag, but Azio doesn't provide a case or anything else to keep it protected.

Even so, if you want to get one big step closer to the dream of using your iPad as a laptop, the Azio KB333BM is an excellent start. I really, really like it.

Featured Video

How Pixar created the world of 'The Good Dinosaur'

Pixar's upcoming new film imagines what it would have been like if dinosaurs never became extinct.'s Lexy Savvides reports on how real-world data helped make the movie's prehistoric landscapes look incredibly authentic.

by Lexy Savvides