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Why I never used my iPad to replace my laptop at E3: A review of iLuv's keyboard case for the iPad

Keyboards can make an iPad a better writing tool, but they have a long way to go before an iPad can replace a laptop outright.

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I'm long overdue on a promise I made before I left for the E3 Expo over a month ago. As I packed my bags, I said I'd take iLuv's new keyboard case for the iPad with me, and see if I'd end up using my iPad 2 plus a keyboard more than I used my laptop to write. Pitted against the keyboarded iPad 2: a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E220s.

In short: the laptop won.

That's probably not much of a surprise. E3 is mission-critical time for writing quick posts and editing on the fly between press conferences. While the Lenovo ThinkPad couldn't quick-start quite as fast, its reliability and multitasking made it a clear winner for quick, efficient work. That's not a dig at the iLuv case per se as much as it is a statement on how I use my iPad. Mine is a multipurpose e-reader with video, and I mainly use it to watch, read, and e-mail.

However, that being said, the bulky iLuv case encouraged me, on most days, to leave the entire iPad and case back at the hotel. After all, if your iPad and its case are nearly as thick as an 11-inch laptop, then what's the point of having a tablet? Also, the case's easel-like back stand is meant for table-top use. On my lap, which was the default way I worked on most of my stories (often sitting down in a hallway), the case was a floppy mess.

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 a writer 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 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.

Read the rest of our review of the iLuv iCK826 Professional Case with Detachable Bluetooth Keyboard for the iPad.