There is a proliferation of external keyboards for iPads and iPhones. Logitech’s Bluetooth Easy-Switch Keyboard K811 is by far the best.
Here is a short video of the keyboard in action:
This is no foldable, plastic, tag-along keyboard. It looks and feels like something native to an aluminum-body Mac Laptop.
This is what’s great about the keyboard:
- It’s backlit. You can use it in the dark and make out all of the keys easily.
- It’s got three keyboard shortcuts for toggling between three Apple devices at a time. So once you’ve paired it with, say, a computer, an iPhone, and an iPad, you can switch between any device the keyboard is paired with… with just one press of a button. You don’t have to pair, un-pair, re-pair, etc.
- That backlit keyboard? It’s smart. The keyboard has sensors that allow it to adjust the illumination level based on the light in the room. Amazing. (You can also manually adjust the keyboard brightness via its F5 and F6 keys.)
- The battery life is long. It’s rechargeable via an (included) USB cable. And there’s an on/off switch, of course, so you don’t drain the battery between uses.
- There’s no lag. The Bluetooth connection is fast, so there’s really no lag between the time you type and see a character on the screen, regardless of the device you’re using.
- It is a full keyboard. Nothing is missing–the command key, volume up/down keys, the escape key… all here.
- It’s got “hand proximity detection.” From the product page: “A motion sensor detects your hands as they approach the keyboard and turns the backlight on/off to help you save power when you are not typing.” From what I can tell, this feature also helps to preserve and prolong the battery life.
- Setup couldn’t have been any simpler. I probably could have figured it out without the manual, but the manual succinctly and clearly explained how to pair with devices.
Having easy access to up/down and left-right arrow keys for iPad and iPhone is really cool.
And here is what I really like about the keyboard:
- If feels better than any other keyboard (portable or otherwise) I’ve typed on. Very smooth, and just the right amount of resistance on the keys.
- You can use keyboard shortcuts with iPad as easily as you would on a desktop computer. The app Drafts and this Logitech keyboard make for a great combo. I started this blog post in Drafts, for example, and then with a single key stroke had sent the draft to Evernote for backup and future work across devices.
- This is a little thing, but there is a keyboard key (on the actual keyboard) that lets you toggle your iPad on-screen keyboard on and off. Unlike other external keyboards, you can even have your native iPad on-screen keyboard up at the same time as using this physical one.
As for drawbacks? Nothing significant, that’s for sure. It’s not foldable, so of course it’s less portable than other external keyboards, but that is the (small) price one pays for its durability and full-size feel. I don’t mind that it can’t be folded up. It would be nice if the keyboard came with a carrying case or simple sleeve, though–you’ll have to figure that one out on your own.
Thanks to Logitech for the product review sample, given to me for purposes of review, but with no expectations or influence on the review’s content.