ClamCase Pro for iPad Mini review: The best way to type on the iPad Mini

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MSRP: $129.00

The Good The ClamCase Pro for iPad Mini is sturdy, features a better keyboard layout than many small-tablet keyboards, automatically connects and disconnects when you need it, and can flip into many different uses and angles.

The Bad It's expensive; its keys are sometimes unavoidably uncomfortable and cramped; and it's a little heavy and bulky compared to slimmer folio cases.

The Bottom Line You'll pay a premium for it, but the ClamCase Pro for iPad Mini is the best and most versatile all-around keyboard case we've seen.

8.5 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

I've never found typing on an 8-inch tablet to be a comfortable experience. But then came the ClamCase Pro for iPad Mini , and...things got a little bit better. I'm still not going to say that your dream writer's tool is an iPad Mini with keyboard. But, this ClamCase Pro on a Mini makes a case, literally, for being the best little travel typing tool for those who are just looking for an on-the-go keyboard security blanket.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The $129 accessory is, basically, a keyboard bonded to a folio case that turns your iPad Mini or iPad Mini Retina , when snapped in, into a veritable netbook-alike. Minus the trackpad, of course. It's available now direct from the company's website. (Pricing outside of the US has not yet been announced, but previous ClamCases are on sale, so it should be available soon. $129 converts to around £76 or AU$129. ClamCase itself does not ship outside of the US, however, but a third-party site may do.)

These types of cases are everywhere, but the ClamCase does two things better: one, its keyboard base can flip around so you can use the tablet to read, or prop it up like the Lenovo Yoga or many other Windows 8 flip-top hybrids -- and that keyboard deactivates automatically when flipped. Two, that keyboard's laid out much more logically than ones like the Logitech Ultrathin for iPad Mini . The keys are cramped, but you can actually type at a clip, and the layout isn't oddly compressed. My fingers knew where to go.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ClamCase Pro's outer shell is white matte plastic, which feels durable and can take scratches well. Inside, the keyboard base is all aluminum, like a mini MacBook Air . There's even spiritual space below for the keyboard for a trackpad, which of course isn't there (iOS doesn't support trackpads anyway).

The keys, as you'd expect, are compact. But their layout makes much more sense than other small iPad Mini keyboards. My fingers were cramped, but I found myself able to get in a groove and write at a speed that was, at times, at least faster than what I could already do by tapping on the iPad's screen.

iOS-specific key functions are compressed into the number keys; just hold down Fn instead of Shift, which also adds the standard set of extra keys (@, &, * and the like).

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