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Typo for iPad Air review: A pricey iPad companion

The Typo for iPad Air's full-sized keys and flexible hinge aren't enough to justify its hefty price.

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Nate Ralph
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Nate Ralph

Associate Editor

Associate Editor Nate Ralph is an aspiring wordsmith, covering mobile software and hardware for CNET Reviews. His hobbies include dismantling gadgets, waxing poetic about obscure ASCII games, and wandering through airports.

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4 min read

The Typo for iPad Air wraps your iPad Air or iPad Air 2 up in a thick, protective shell and tosses a Bluetooth keyboard into the mix. But it costs $189, making it one of the pricier iPad keyboards we've reviewed (that converts to £121, or AU$244).

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6.7

Typo for iPad Air

The Good

The Typo for iPad Air's full-sized keys make for fast typing with fewer errors on the iPad Air and iPad Air 2, and the flexible hinge makes it comfortable to use in your lap.

The Bad

No backlit keys and the hefty price makes this keyboard case less attractive than its competitors.

The Bottom Line

The full-sized keys and flexible hinge are both nice touches, but the Typo for iPad Air doesn't deliver as much as its price tag demands.

Full-sized keys and a flexible friction hinge make for a satisfying typing experience, but the Typo does little to outpace competitors that cost less and deliver more features. And a 16GB iPad Air 2 paired with a Typo keyboard will set you back about $688 (£442, AU$890). If you're looking for a productivity machine, that could get you a 64GB Surface 3 , the Surface 3's keyboard cover, and the Surface Pen, with a bit of cash left over for a snack.

Take a closer look at the Typo for iPad Air (pictures)

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Design

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Magnets keep the keyboard attached to the case. Nate Ralph/CNET

The Typo Keyboard case isn't actually a single, contiguous unit: you'll snap the case onto your iPad Air or iPad Air 2, while the keyboard attaches to the rest of the package by way of magnets.

The case only fits iPad Airs and it isn't exactly interchangeable between both models, either: you'll have to stick a set of (included) adhesive rubber feet to get the slightly slimmer iPad Air 2 to fit. The keyboard's magnetic connection is strong enough to resist jostle during general use in your lap, but not quite strong enough to support its own weight. I'm constantly tempted to hold the entire package by the tablet-end, as I would the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. But the keyboard flops right off once it's hanging vertically -- a tad disappointing.

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I didn't have trouble writing this review with the Typo in my lap. Nate Ralph/CNET

The case also adds quite a bit of heft to the iPad Air, though that much is expected. It doesn't get in the way of the headphone or charging ports, but you'll bump into the case if you try to press the volume and lock buttons. The keyboard's Bluetooth switch sits on the lower right edge, and I had no trouble pairing it with my iPad.

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The Typo is only a little smaller than the Surface 3's keyboard (right). Nate Ralph/CNET

Of course the Typo Keyboard's primary function is to be a keyboard, and it does a fairly good job here. The keys are shallow, which is expected in a keyboard that's 5.5mm thick. But the keys are wide, and fairly comfortable to type on -- even my comically large paws don't have too much trouble finding the letters I aim to hit. The keys on the Surface 3's keyboard offer a bit more travel, and as a result feel more satisfying to type on, but the Typo keyboard complements the iPad rather well.

It's comfortable to use, too. The Typo is clearly designed to be used on a desk, but it works in my lap just fine: a flexible friction hinge will let you tilt the screen as far back as you'd like, and I had no trouble balancing the iPad in my lap while working. When you want the keyboard out of the way, just turn it around: when reversed it sits flush with the back of the case. This feels nice in the hand but makes the entire package even thicker -- I usually just took the keyboard off instead.

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Some of the keys are a little cramped. Nate Ralph/CNET

Some crucial keys like the Shift, bracket, and arrow keys have been squished to fit the iPad Air's 9.7-inch footprint, which can make hitting them problematic. And then there are the little differences, like placing the colon and semi-colon keys to the right of the spacebar, instead of its usual spot on the end of the home row. It's a tiny change, but one that requires overcoming years of muscle memory. The keys also aren't backlit, which is a far more serious flaw.

Features

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Dedicated iOS function keys are a nice touch. Nate Ralph/CNET

Cramming a full keyboard into the iPad's footprint is no mean feat, but it does mean you can get a lot done on the Typo. There's a function row running across the top of the keyboard that offers media controls, a home button, and button to call up Siri, and a switch so you can check on the keyboard's battery life. There's also a button to switch between International keyboards if you've set some up on your iPad, and button for calling up the on-screen keyboard.

But there's also quite a bit of stuff that's missing. Like the ( now defunct) Typo2 keyboard case for the iPhone 6 , the Typo for iPad Air doesn't support the autocorrect and text suggestion features of iOS. That isn't the Typo's fault: it's an issue you'll encounter with all Bluetooth keyboards on iOS. But it remains problematic. There are also a pair of shortcut keys on the Typo keyboard that don't do anything quite yet -- one enables quick access to your Contacts, the other your Calendar.

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The friction hinge is sturdy and flexible. Nate Ralph/CNET

Typo will soon be releasing a free, companion note-taking app to unlock new features in the keyboard case. I got an early look at the app earlier this year: it's rather simple and won't hold a candle to more robust apps like Evernote or OneNote, but it will offer the autocorrect functionality that's currently missing. Those calendar and contact shortcut keys will also be able to call up a calendar and contact menus, respectively, on the bottom half of the companion app -- think of a limited version of the multitasking that's coming to Apple's iOS 9 .

Conclusion

The Typo for iPad Air 2 costs $189. That's certainly pricey, though admittedly not too far removed from other iPad Air cases. The Belkin Qode Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad Air doesn't have backlit keys and isn't as flexible as the Typo, but costs $129. Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard cover for iPad Air lacks adjustable angles and isn't a full case, but at $99 it costs half as much.

But you can also spend a bit less to get far more: the $169 BrydgeAir Keyboard , for example, has backlit keys, an aluminum finish, and built-in speakers. Never mind that the speakers don't sound very good -- if you're paying this much you might as well load up on features.

And if you're just looking for a keyboard to make typing on the iPad a little more bearable, any Bluetooth keyboard will do.

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6.7

Typo for iPad Air

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 6Performance 6
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