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