Review: Targus Versavu Keyboard and Case for iPad 2
Targus's 360° Rotating Stand & Case was one of the very first cases we saw for the iPad 2; the folio-style, flip-open case actually arrived a few days before Apple launched the second-generation tablet. At the time we offered a limited recommendation, due to issues with the overall bulk and lack of protection around the edges and on the back. Now, the company has evolved 360° into Versavu Keyboard and Case for iPad 2 ($100), a design with the same body, now adding a truly great Bluetooth keyboard.
Just as with its predecessor, Versavu holds the iPad 2 in place with a form-fitting rear shell—in fact, it appears to be exactly the same as 360°—and the closed case is quite thick. The top and bottom edges of the tablet still have thin strips of exposed aluminum, with deeper indentations for the headphone port, Sleep/Wake button, and Dock Connector port. Even with a chance to correct the last version’s problem, Targus still chose to leave the Apple logo exposed on this model—a design decision we seriously disliked. That circular opening does serves as a pivot point, however, allowing the tablet to spin all the way around—a particularly useful feature when you want to use the keyboard.
Because it rotates, Versavu is one of the few keyboard cases that allows the iPad 2 to be positioned in either portrait or landscape orientation. A small ridge above the top row of keys holds it in place. We actually found the landscape mode to be a bit too steep of an angle, coming in at around 70°. But the portrait orientation is very nice. The tablet reclines a bit to an angle that is more comfortable, and we liked seeing a whole page of text presented at once. Pairing is as easy as any other Bluetooth keyboard; there’s an on/off switch above the ridge, and a button to put the device into a discoverable mode. It charges via an included Micro USB cable, and Targus claims 90 hours of continuous use per charge cycle.
As of today, Versavu has the best keyboard we’ve seen integrated into an iPad 2 case. It’s better than Wekreat’s Type Rider, and it’s even better than our previous favorite, the iLuv iCK826 Professional Case with Bluetooth Keyboard. In fact, it’s second only to Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, which isn’t specific to the iPad but offers a great typing experience. While the plastic chiclet-style keys are certainly smaller, they have a very similar feel. The tactile response is impressive, and touch typists will have no major problems getting used to the layout very quickly.
We made almost no mistakes in typing using Versavu, with the exception of getting used to a few repositioned keys. Both sets of brackets, the colon, semicolon, question mark, and slash are all moved to become secondary functions of nearby letter keys. We don’t like this, but it didn’t slow us down as much as we expected. It seems like a necessary sacrifice for a keyboard this small, as many others also rearrange some of the keys. Along the top row, there are the iPad-specific keys we’ve come to expect, such as cut/copy/paste, track control, and Spotlight, as well as one we haven’t seen before: select all.
It’s unfortunate that in the four and a half months between shipping 360° Rotating Stand & Case for iPad 2 and Versavu Keyboard and Case, Targus was not able to improve on some of the issues we saw with the original B-minus-rated case design, and instead simply carried them over. By pairing a B- case with one of the best small keyboards around—a B+ option on its own merits, and one we’d strongly recommend if it were attached to an improved shell—Targus has developed a solution that’s worthy of a B rating overall. The case isn’t great, but the keyboard might just make you want to use it anyway. We enjoyed using Versavu so much that we wrote most of this review on it, and when we’re looking for a keyboard to use in the future, we’ll just have to decide whether to tolerate the case it’s wrapped in. Tweaks to the case’s back, top, bottom, and landscape viewing angle would make for an A-rated sequel; a lower price would help its appeal further, too.