Keyboards and iPads are a useful but sometimes awkward combination. The Apple iPad is not a device that cries out for an accessory: its minimalist chic and versatile touch screen nearly demand a lack of clutter. While writers on the go can, technically, type on an iPad's virtual onscreen keyboard, it's obviously not ideal. But neither is the decision to clutter up a thin, light device with big, bulky external keyboards. The $129.99 iLuv iCK826 Professional Case with Detachable Bluetooth Keyboard will likely polarize iPad case minimalists and those who prefer to think of the iPad as a productivity tool. Bulky and awkward, the iCK826 nearly defeats the purpose of having a slim iPad.
iLuv's all-in-one Bluetooth keyboard case for the iPad is a leather folio-style case that unfolds to reveal a full keyboard on the inside lid, much like other keyboard cases we've seen before. Is it "professional"? Well, it's thick, and it's made of black leather through and through. It makes an iPad feel like an old-school business accessory, if that's what you're looking for. It also adds quite a bit of thickness due to the added keyboard.
However, the iLuv case's keyboard, as advertised, does detach. It adheres to the inside cover via four Velcro pads. The keyboard is lightweight and has its own lithium ion battery. An included Micro-USB cable recharges the keyboard and plugs into any standard USB-equipped laptop or charger. Once the keyboard is charged, a small sync button initiates pairing with the iPad, which works like any other Bluetooth keyboard pairing process. The decision to use Velcro pads as a fastener, while perhaps inevitable, makes the case feel a bit of cheap. We would have preferred a more Apple-like solution, like magnets.
iLuv's case has a fold-down stand reminiscent of a picture frame that props the case open, and snaps into the back when not in use. It keeps the stand securely upright, but won't adjust to multiple angles. Also, the iCK826 requires that the iPad be stripped of the Smart Cover or any other back covers before it can be slotted into the stitched leather sleeve. Some people might be turned off by the case's lack of flexibility, or its inability to work in portrait mode. Logitech's Keyboard Case for the iPad 2 can work in either orientation, but doesn't provide the same level of protection. It's also far slimmer.