A little over a year ago, when my oldest daughter was a few weeks away from going away to college, I was faced with a decision to make. Money was tight and my daughter needed a laptop to take with her to school. At the time I had a MacBook Air that I would let her borrow but since she wouldn’t be living at home anymore, giving her the MacBook to take with her meant I would no longer have a laptop for myself. Again, money was tight, so sacrifices would have to be made.
I ended up giving my daughter my MacBook and resorted to my iPad Air 2, which is the iPad model I had at the time to take care of all my blogging and personal needs. I then discovered, with some research and perseverance, that the iPad was actually powerful enough to meet all my needs and just maybe I wouldn’t need a laptop after all. Fast forward a year later and I have since then upgraded to the larger 12.9″ iPad Pro (a size I then found was too large for me to be mobile with) and then again downsized to the 9.7″ one.
As good as the iPad has proven to be as a device to not only consume, but also create content, it is lacking something essential to those of us that want to use it as a productivity tool…a keyboard. I experimented with different types of keyboards to make typing on the iPad feel as natural as it was on a laptop or a desktop. I tried different kinds of keyboards, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, but ultimately settled on the Apple Magic Keyboard due to its feel and simplicity. I thought I’d give you guys a run-down of what led to that decision.
Clamshell-style iPad Cases
A very popular choice for iPad users is the clamshell style iPad case that includes a keyboard. A favorite would be the Logitech Create Keyboard, which connects directly to the iPad Pro’s smart connector, therefore eliminating the need to connect it via Bluetooth or charge it. It’s also back-lit, making it an ideal keyboard for the night owls like myself that like to type away in the dark without disturbing our significant others. I really liked using this keyboard for a while. It was nearly perfect, and if it wasn’t for the fact that it added close to 26 oz to my already large and heavy 12.9″ iPad Pro, I would have probably kept this one around. I’d say that was the only down side I found to this otherwise marvelous keyboard.
The first keyboard of this kind that I tried was Apple’s own Smart Keyboard. In my eyes, this was the perfect lightweight solution to my oversized iPad woes. It connected to the iPad’s smart connector, covered just the front of the iPad (therefore shedding quite a few ounces in the process as compared with the Logitech Create), and it was made by Apple. My gripe with this keyboard was the material it was covered in and the “click” factor, or lack thereof. It’s woven nylon skin felt funny on my fingers, a feeling akin to nails on a chalkboard, and the thinness of the keys themselves really slowed down my typing. I sometimes had to pause just to double check that the key I pressed was recognized, although I realize this is more of a “me” problem as I’ve grown accustomed to the clickity-clack of a keyboard and the feeling of productiveness it gives me.
Apple Magic Keyboard – MAGIC!
At first, I didn’t understand why Apple chose to name it the Magic Keyboard. There’s nothing magic per se about it. It’s just a regular wireless bluetooth keyboard that’s not even backlit or even that portable…that is until I started actually using it. I already had the old version of the magic keyboard already lying around the house, the one with the AA batteries compartment in its cylindrical base, so I decided to give it a whirl. After a few weeks of use, I was so happy with it, that I decided to upgrade to the new version, even if it costs me $99. The pros far outweighed the cons, which I am detailing below.
- Charging: This keyboard can be charged through its lightning port, with the same charger you already use for your iPad. There is no need to buy batteries or to have an extra charger around.
- Battery Life: The built-in battery also seems to lasts quite a while. I haven’t had a chance to properly time how long it actually lasts, but I can tell you that I charged it in full 2 weeks ago when I first got it, and it’s still miraculously at 98%. You also have the added benefit of monitoring its battery life through the Battery lock screen widget on your iPad.
- Larger Keys and font: The physical keys themselves are much larger than in the old model and are now in Apple’s San Francisco font. It’s a small detail for some, but for me, it’s huge. I have stubby fingers and the larger the keys, the more comfortable the typing is for me. Not to mention that the font is more pleasing to the eye.
- Easy Connect and On/Off switch: Bluetooth keyboards I have tried in the past had an ugly habit of being slow to respond initially, or lose the pairing and have to be paired again. I have not had that problem with the Magic Keyboard. If I have to throw it in my bag, I don’t have to worry that the keys will inadvertently be struck, wake up my iPad and start typing random letters and numbers and thus locking me out for too many wrong passcode attempts. This was a huge problem of the old Magic Keyboard. This new model comes with an on/off switch that I can simply flip if I don’t want the keyboard to take over. Turn the switch on and it connects again almost instantaneously.
- Portability: While the AA battery tube is gone in the new version of the Magic Keyboard, thus making it much thinner than its predecessor, it’s still not something that I would carry around on a casual day in my purse unless I was traveling or knew that there would be some heavy typing involved. When compared to the Smart Keyboard, it does add some bulk in your bag.
- Backlighting: I think this is one place where I think Apple missed the mark with this keyboard. Almost every other aspect of this keyboard is perfect to me, except the fact that its keys are not backlit.
As you can see though, to me there are way more pros than cons to using the Apple Magic Keyboard. I am completely in love with it and cannot see myself going back to any other keyboard for my iPad, that is unless a new backlit version is released, or maybe even one with a touchbar like the new MacBooks have. Only time will tell.