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Issue 10.6 ('Retina')
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TouchType iPad Case

Issue: 10.6 (September/October 2012)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 6,328
Starting Page Number: 19
Article Number: 10604
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The problem with an external keyboard for iPad is that since it's a separate piece of equipment, you don't always bring it with you. Then you don't have it when you want it. A few months ago a Kickstarter project was launched to solve this problem with a brilliant iPad case that lets you store your Apple Bluetooth keyboard and the iPad in a slim portfolio. But does it actually work?

I am pleased to say that I was an early backer and yes, the TouchType delivers everything it promises. It's a clever design, capitalizing on the unusual shape of the Apple keyboard (the TouchType is designed specifically for Apple's keyboard and probably won't work with others): the thin keyboard part slides into a pocket behind the iPad, while the round battery tube at the rear of the keyboard ends up in the hinge area of the portfolio case.

This means the case itself is remarkably thin, considering what it is doing, though the main drawback is that you can't use the keyboard while it's stored in the case. Getting the keyboard in and out is a slight hassle, though I'm confident that will lessen over time, both as I get more accustomed to doing it and as the keyboard pocket loosens (it's very tight initially).

While this sounds complicated and it is difficult to describe, it's really easy when you have the actual case in front of you. It just takes a few seconds to be up and ready to type. Perhaps not quite as fast as with a case with a built-in keyboard, but then you're carrying a full-sized keyboard, not a shrunken "netbook" keyboard (which isn't much better than the iPad's virtual keyboard).

The case also works as a stand, with the front face folding around to the back and inserting under small flap to hold the iPad either horizontally (landscape) or vertically (portrait). The iPad is held in place by elastic tabs on all four corners. While this holds very well, the tabs are required (the iPad will slide out without them) and it is a bit annoying to have to fasten the thing in four places just to put it away.

On a positive note, two extra tabs are included to hold the bottom of the iPad in portrait mode (my preferred view for word processing) and I am pleased that all the tabs are elastic (I have used other cases where two of the tabs were fixed and then you have to insert that side first which is annoying). The elastics also mean there's no problem keeping a rear cover and/or an Apple Smart Cover on your iPad if you'd like (other cases require you to remove existing thin covers as the fit is too tight).

You can use the iPad while it's still in the case, which is handy, but it's not the most convenient (it's usually easier to take the iPad out if you're doing anything extensive).

It is important to point out that carrying both an external keyboard, a case, and an iPad does add significant weight. The combination is much heavier than a bare iPad, but still much less than a regular laptop (probably comparable to a Macbook Air). For this reason, I certainly wouldn't use the TouchType around the house or office, but if I'm going out, I want the additional protection of a case and I might want the keyboard. For me, that's the ideal use: many times I haven't taken the keyboard and when I ended up with some spare time, I was frustrated because I'd left the keyboard at home.

The TouchType certainly isn't for everyone. If you're comfortable with a netbook-size keyboard, a case with a tiny built-in keyboard might be better (and cheaper, when you consider the cost of Apple's keyboard plus the TouchType). If you rarely need to type on an external keyboard, it also may be overkill. But if you're a writer like me and find you're vastly more productive with a full-size external keyboard, the TouchType might be just the solution to encourage you to bring the keyboard along in case you find some writing time. It's well-made, looks elegant, and works as advertised.

Currently the manufacturer is fulfilling all the Kickstarter orders, so the TouchType isn't even for sale yet: but you can sign up on the TouchType website to be notified for ordering is available.

End of article.