Now that Microsoft Office is out on the iPad, it just underlines what the iPad has become: a laptop replacement for many people. You don't need a keyboard for your iPad. But, if you're planning on an iPad being a place where you get a lot of writing done, having one can come in very handy. Yes, you can type on the iPad's screen instead, but a real keyboard frees up screen space, feels more comfortable, and isn't hard to set up via Bluetooth.
You can use a regular Bluetooth keyboard with your iPad, or go with a combo case or accessory. I've played with a lot of keyboard accessories on the iPad: these are my favorites.
Before the iPad Air, most cases would fit the second-, third-, and fourth-gen models equally. That's no longer the case. So, having used several new accessories and written on each, I've broken my recommendations down into categories of iPad: Air, previous generations, and iPad Mini. No matter who you are, there should be a good option.
Just keep in mind that none of these support trackpads, because iOS still doesn't allow for it. Sad, but true.
Belkin Qode Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air ($129.99)
Slim, and outfitted with a great keyboard, the Ultimate's advantage lies in its three adjustable angles for desk or lap typing. The case autoconnects when opened and magnetically snaps into place, saving battery and preventing keys from being pressed when not in use. The keyboard can be folded underneath when not needed. Read the full review.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air ($99.99)
My favorite iPad keyboard accessory gets a new variation that fits the Air's smaller dimensions. Cheaper than other cases, the Cover doesn't protect the back of your iPad, but it does magnetically snap onto the side of your iPad and act as a makeshift cover when tucked into a bag. The iPad docks on top in a narrow slot when in use. This cover lacks auto-on pairing or extra angles, but has one of the best keyboards I've used. Read the full review.
Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad Air ($149.99)
Logitech's highest-end keyboard case opts for a spill-resistant rubberized design and a wraparound protective covering. It autoconnects like the Belkin Ultimate case, but only has one set angle when snapped into place. The key layout also feels different: keys are more spaced out, and some keys are combined. Typing purists may be turned off. Read the full review.
Second-, third-, and fourth-gen iPad:
Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad
The original Belkin case won me over with the same three-angle autoconnecting design as the Air version. The case is bulkier, but so is the iPad it's meant for. Read the full review.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad
Still one of my favorites. Same idea as the version: a bare-bones, Bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a magnetically attached Smart Cover-like front cover. Read the full review.
Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad
The older iPad version of the FabricSkin feels bulkier, with a lot more padding. Good for kids, perhaps, but it's a lot of extra padding for the average person. Read the full review.
ZAGGKeys ProFolio+ Keyboard Case for iPad
Zagg's $129 case has solid protection and some impressive built-in backlighting. I wasn't as wild about the typing responsiveness, but writers who prefer the dark might like having this option -- and the backlighting comes in many colors, too, which can be switched with a key-press. Read the full review.
iPad Mini :
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Mini
I wouldn't suggest any keyboard cover/case for the iPad Mini, because most compress keys way too much: just pair a full-size Bluetooth keyboard like the ones below instead. But, if you're desperate for a little add-on that's not a full-size keyboard, Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover isn't bad in a pinch. Just be forewarned: the key layout really isn't the same. Read the full review.
Universal solutions: Simple, standalone keyboards
Guess what? You don't need a keyboard case or cover at all. Any Bluetooth keyboard should work; you may even have one on your desk that works just fine. Below are two of my old favorites.
Apple Wireless Keyboard
Apple's own Bluetooth keyboard is still a great universal solution: use it with any iPad or any other tablet. Just make sure you prop up your iPad with a separate cover or stand. Read the full review.
Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad
Can you tell I like Logitech keyboards? Compared with other accessories, I find their key feel and response to generally be the best. Logitech's had newer versions since this older "tablet" keyboard, but this model was particularly great because it had its own keyboard sheath that doubled as a tablet stand. Smart idea. Read the full review.
Any others you recommend, or that we should review next? Sound off below.