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The first case we ever saw for Apple's iPad 2 was the Targus Versavu. A thick, leather case with a unique center pivot, the Versavu is a stand-type case folio that can fold back to display the iPad 2 in portrait or landscape mode. With the plethora of keyboard cases that have suddenly arrived onto the flooded iPad accessory scene, it's not much of a surprise that Targus has repurposed the Versavu case with its own embedded keyboard. The $99 Versavu Keyboard and Case for iPad retains the Versavu's sturdy feel and rugged build, and might have been a candidate as one of the best keyboard cases we've ever used--if it weren't for its keyboard.
The keyboard's problem isn't build quality--in fact, far from it. Solidly lodged into the plush suedelike microfiber inner lid, the black plastic keyboard has raised island-style keys with excellent key travel. No, the problem is with the keyboard layout, and its unfortunate compression on the edges. A casual eye might think the Versavu's keyboard is identical to a Netbook's, but it isn't: several keys normally dedicated to the colon, semicolon, and question mark have been removed, and their functions remapped onto other QWERTY keys instead (the question mark key is now awkwardly set on the N key, for instance). It's a slight knock, but a serious one if you're a time-pressed writer who's looking for a physical keyboard to resolve the awkward transpositions that already beset Apple's virtual onscreen keyboard. Sadly, it turns what should be rapid-fire typing into occasional missed keys and finger-fumbling. Otherwise, it's an extremely good keyboard. iPad-specific buttons are laid out on a dedicated row above the numbers. Pause/track skipping, volume control, cut/paste, and shortcuts for Spotlight, picture gallery and the home buttons can come in handy (music controls more than the others).
One of the unique qualities about Targus' case is its fully rotational iPad mount. The black leather case has a plastic shell between its foliolike front and back cover that the iPad 2 snaps into; this back cover is attached to the leather via a circle-shaped rotating pivot with a large hole in the middle that exposes the Apple logo. The iPad 2 can swivel 360 degrees into either landscape or portrait orientation--the bottom-most edge of the case slots into a groove on the rear of the keyboard. In landscape mode the angle is too upright and feels oddly balanced when typing, but it's perfect in portrait mode. When closed for travel, raised suede side bumpers on the keyboard protect against contact with the iPad's screen, and an elastic band stretches across the back to seal it shut.
The Targus keyboard charges via a Mini-USB port (cable included), and can plug into a laptop or any standard USB port-studded charger. An on/off switch and a Bluetooth syncing button activate pairing with the iPad 2. Once Bluetooth is searching, the iPad 2 asks for several digits to be typed before activating the pairing. Response time works as well as any Bluetooth keyboard.
In short, Targus' Versavu keyboard case is one of the best-built around, and while thick, feels better than many competitors. Just ask yourself whether you can live with a compromised-layout keyboard, and whether you prefer typing in vertical portrait mode. If so, this might be your best keyboard case bet.