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

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The Good The Belkin Portable Keyboard Case for iPad Mini is trim and stylish, it's easy to pair via Bluetooth, and it offers long battery life. Also, the keys are hard and relatively tactile.

The Bad The keyboard is a little cramped and there's no dedicated apostrophe/quotation key. It doubles the weight of your iPad Mini.

The Bottom Line The Belkin iPad Mini Keyboard Case is one of the better keyboard cases currently available for the Mini -- but it does have its shortcomings.

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6.9 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

Belkin makes a few different external Bluetooth keyboards and keyboard cases for the full-size iPad, so it's hardly a surprise that the accessory maker has ventured into Mini territory with its simply named Portable Keyboard Case for iPad Mini ($79.99 list).

Let's start with the good stuff. Belkin's done a nice job of making a keyboard case that's pretty trim and protective at the same time. At first glance, you wouldn't even know that there was a keyboard inside, and when I showed the case to people, they were surprised to see the keyboard when I opened the case up (the flap adheres magnetically and stays shut).

To be sure, this isn't nearly as light as the plethora of slim cases that are available for the Mini. It weighs in at 11.2 ounces, a tad more than the 10.9-ounce Mini itself; that means it effectively doubles the weight when attached. But it's still nicely styled, and its faux leather finish has a rubberized texture to it.

The cover folds back into a stand. Sarah Tew/CNET

I also liked how the front cover folds back into a stand. To make that happen, you have to fold down the top part of the case, which seems a little tricky at first, but ultimately is simple enough. You then end up fiddling around with the cover a bit, trying to make a triangle with the flap and making the magnet on the flap stick in just the right place. Once you get it right, your iPad is supported nicely at around a 60-degree angle.

When the case is closed, you wouldn't necessarily know there's a keyboard inside. Sarah Tew/CNET

The keys are made of hard plastic and are pretty tactile, with some spacing between them. Overall, it's not on par with an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, but at least the keys aren't too tiny.

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

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