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>> Hey, I'm Donald Bell for cnet.com, and today we're taking a first look at the Apple keyboard dock for the iPad. For a touch-screen device, the iPad's built in touch-screen keyboard does an above average job for jotting down email replies and surfing the web. But it's not the sort of thing you want to type on for hours at a time. When it comes to word processing and other types of long format text entry on the iPad, the keyboard dock is a justifiable investment priced at $69. You get a full-sized keyboard that's similar to the ones included with today's iMac computers. The construction is sturdy, made mostly made from a plank of aluminum and low-profile plastic keys that are easy to clean and unlikely to catch on anything. The dock that's fused to the keyboard isn't anything fancy. There's a dock connector on the top and a pass-through connection on the back along with an audio output. The pass-through port allows you to connect a charger or any other iPad accessories. You don't need to be plugged into an outlet for the keyboard to work though, which is a good thing since Apple doesn't include any wall adapters in the box. That said the docks awkward shape and relative heft makes it a poor candidate for travelers or for casual use on the couch. This is really the kind of thing you set up at the desk, at home, or at work in order to make the iPad more suitable for writing full pages of text. Aside from email, web, and notes, the keyboard really comes in handy for Apple's word processing and spreadsheet apps which are sold separately at 9.99 each. One of the big wins here is the inclusion of arrow keys for quick edits, and it's something the iPad's built-in keyboard lacks. We still find ourselves going back to the touch-screen for some of the more complex cutting and pasting, but if you're used to Apple's command Z, X, and C shortcuts, those will also work here as well as using the shift and arrow keys to select text. Beyond the usual keyboard stuff, Apple also includes a handful of shortcut keys specific for the iPad including a home button, spotlight search, screen brightness, photo frame, a soft-keyboard toggle, track control, volume, and a screen lock. So that's the iPad keyboard dock. For cnet.com, I'm Donald Bell.
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