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Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air review: Turn your iPad into a laptop...almost

Thin metal, autopairing, and comfy: Belkin's latest iPad Air accessory is a worthy bag companion.

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Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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There are tablets that double as actual laptops, but if you're an iPad user there are ways to get by, too. A ton of impressive keyboard accessories offer a way to write on the go that, although lacking a trackpad, can get the job done surprisingly well.

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Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air

The Good

The Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case has a sturdy aluminum design, autopairs via Bluetooth once an iPad is dropped in, and has a lot of iOS-specific shortcut keys.

The Bad

Doesn't fully protect the iPad; rear end is a little thicker than you'd expect for a thin keyboard; keys good but not the best for responsiveness.

The Bottom Line

If you want a sturdy, easy-to-use keyboard accessory that looks nearly as good as the iPad itself, the Belkin Qode Thin Type is one of the best.

My favorite was always the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover , a sleek, flat keyboard that latches onto the iPad's magnetic side and works wonderfully at small tables and counters. (That case has a design update I'm currently using and writing a review for; it now has an adjustable iPad angle but feels similar) Now, Belkin may have made me switch preferences with its Qode Thin Type Keyboard for iPad Air , which costs the same ($100) but feels even nicer...with one small exception. (Pricing in the UK starts at £76.34, while Australians can purchase one for $110 AU.) I wrote this whole review on it, and I have warm feelings about the Thin Type. I want to take it with me everywhere.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Belkin has made a bunch of iPad keyboard cases, and they're quite good, but the Thin Type isn't really a case: it's a flat keyboard that can latch and rest flat on top of the iPad Air's screen for travel, like a cover.

The Thin Type has a sturdy aluminum construction and comes in two colors to match the iPad's color schemes. It's less than 4mm thick, according to Belkin. Just know that it's essentially as thin and light as the Logitech Ultrathin. But, the back of the Belkin Qode Thin Type is a little thicker, housing a battery along with a bit of a keyboard riser. The Thin Type charges via Micro-USB (a cable is included). Belkin claims six months of use on a single charge. I've only used it for a few weeks, but so far so good: I haven't even charged it out of the box.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

This Belkin keyboard has the same magnetic, hinged, metal latch as the Logitech case, or Apple's older Smart Covers. It snaps onto the Air quickly. Slotting an Air into a groove in the Thin Type's keyboard stands it up -- either in landscape or portrait mode -- at a decent but non-adjustable angle for cafe typing. Lap typing, not quite so much.

Even better, this accessory autopairs via Bluetooth. There's no 'on' switch, a trend that's growing in keyboard cases, but that the Logitech Ultrathin still lacks.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Autopair, a sturdy construction, and...the keys. This keyboard's keys are small but not weirdly compressed; they are spaced properly and situated perfectly. And there's even a row of dedicated iOS-related keys on top. Some are essential, like the home button, volume keys, and a shortcut to see all open apps. Others, like three dedicated buttons that I think are for iTunes Radio but didn't work, were downright bizarre. Belkin doesn't offer a help guide. I discovered by trial and error that one takes screenshots.

Typing was comfy, but I had a few more typing errors than on Logitech's stellar keyboard. Maybe I wasn't pressing down hard enough on the keys. So, it's a very good but not great typing experience.

But the Thin Type, overall, is a winner based on design alone. Consider it strongly if you want a premium iPad Air keyboard. It might not trounce Logitech's, but it's awfully close.

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Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8