Wednesday, April 21, 2010

iPad Keyboard Dock Review

Apple's keyboard dock accessory for the iPad ($69) offers one of the simplest solutions for adding a hard keyboard to the device. It still can't compete with a laptop or desktop computer when it comes to professional typing and editing capabilities, but many will appreciate the familiar functionality of using a full-size keyboard.

The keyboard measures 11 inches wide and 4.5 inches deep, and stands just 0.65 inch tall toward the back, sloping down to a mere 0.25 inch at the spacebar. The white plastic dock fused to the back of the keyboard gives the accessory a total depth of 7.25 inches.

The dock's integrated iPad stand measures 2 inches tall, making it a tough fit for many roll-away computer desk keyboard trays. That said, a desktop is the natural habitat for this keyboard. With its grippy rubber base and 1.4 lbs, heft, the whole thing has been purposefully designed to stay put and reinforce the iPad against tipping over while you poke at the touch screen.

Positives: The iPad keyboard dock provides a nice sturdy, full-size keyboard which is useful with e-mail and word processing. You'll be extatic at the return of the cursor arrow keys and Caps Lock control, which are absent from the iPad. Little things, like not having to switch menus just to type a number or exclamation mark are no longer a nuisence.

Negatives: The iPad Keyboard Dock isn't cheap, and the integrated iPad stand makes it difficult to for travel. Word processor editing, such as cutting and pasting, is still just as easy through iPad's touch screen. The dock is only configured in one screen orientation.

Conclusion: Apple's keyboard dock for the iPad offers a functional and elegant solution for people who find the touch-screen keyboard a little limiting, but it does not make the iPad into an equivilent computer. I find myself using it less-and-less though as it eliminates the freedom the iPad granted!

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