Belkin Portable Keyboard Case for iPad Mini review: iPad Mini keyboard case is good, but cramped

Pairing the keyboard via Bluetooth was also easy -- it charges with an included USB cable -- and there's an on/off switch to conserve battery life. Belkin says you can get up to 155 hours of "active" battery life. I only used it for a few days so I can't confirm that number, but Bluetooth keyboards sip power pretty slowly.

Close-up of the keys and key layout. Sarah Tew/CNET

The not-so-good
The biggest problem with the keyboard is that it isn't a true, full-size keyboard. My hands felt a little cramped using it, and often when I hit the spacebar the edge of my thumb would catch on the outer edge of the keyboard just below it. The apostrophe/quotation mark key is also missing. As a workaround, you have to hit the Function key to make an apostrophe, which is awkward. For some it will be quite irritating while others will be able to deal with it.

Another shot of the case closed. Sarah Tew/CNET

There are some other small keyboard-layout choices that folks may take issue with, but the apostrophe and cramped size of the keyboard were the biggest issues for me. Finally, it's worth noting that if you're used to having a lighter cover on your iPad Mini, this case will seem heavy when you're not using the keyboard. You can hold your iPad vertically (with the keyboard flipped around back) and just use the touch screen as you normally would. But the whole thing just feels heavier than it should. In other words, this keyboard case is only for someone who plans on doing a lot of typing on an iPad Mini.

In typing mode. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
To make a compact keyboard case for the iPad Mini, Belkin had to make a few sacrifices, most notably leaving off a dedicated key for apostrophes and quotation marks. That, plus a couple of other small design flaws and its somewhat cramped size and shape, make this keyboard less appealing to use than your standard-size iPad keyboard case. That said, the case has a lot of positives, including a relatively trim design for a keyboard case, which keeps your Mini from becoming too bulky.

While I think the design could be improved a little, the truth is any keyboard case for the iPad Mini -- unless it has an extendable butterfly design -- will likely have some shortcomings.

In other words, this is one of the better iPad Mini keyboard cases that you can buy at this time, but it's not exactly ideal. For those who take notes and do a lot e-mail on their iPad Minis and don't like using the onscreen virtual keyboard, this is certainly a viable choice, especially if you don't want to lug around an external Bluetooth keyboard, even a compact one. I liked it, but it does have a few niggling issues.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Belkin iPad Mini Keyboard Case (Black)

Part Number: F5L145ttBLK Released: Nov 14, 2012
MSRP: $79.99 Low Price: $69.98 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov 14, 2012