Review: iLuv Chairman Folio for iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
In evaluating iLuv's Chairman Folio for full-sized iPads ($150, aka iCK840), the comparisons to Kensington's KeyFolio Executive, which arrived in our office just a few days prior, are obvious. Both combine the general design of a personal organizer with iPad holders and Bluetooth wireless keyboards. We thought Kensington's case was large, but that was before we tested the massive Chairman Folio.
Measuring 11.5” tall, 9.75” wide and almost 2” thick, Chairman Folio weighs close to two pounds—unquestionably large and heavy. Whereas KeyFolio Executive was made with faux leather, iLuv chose to use the real thing, which likely contributes to the higher price. Grey stitching provides a nice accent around the border and bisects the front cover vertically; a metal logo badge is centered at the edge of the stitching. A kickstand is located on the back and held down with a snap, adjacent to a larger than average iSight camera hole.
Once you’ve unzipped the case, you’ll find a series of pockets sewn inside the front cover. This includes room for credit cards and business cards, a pen or stylus, a medium-height pad of paper, and even a pocket large enough to hold your iPhone, if you so desire. Standard iPad folio or keyboard case users might find these compartments excessive, but they make a lot of sense for a case designed to be carried around the office, or to remote business meetings.
The iPad is held inside the rear cover, within a permanently attached leather frame. Its dimensions are significantly smaller than those of the flat back it’s attached to, making it somewhat easier to access the ports and buttons than is sometimes possible with otherwise similarly-styled cases. Roughly half of the bezel is covered, all the way around the iPad’s front.
Between the front and back is a central panel that holds the removable keyboard. The keyboard is held in place by a combination of weak magnets and a backwards C-shaped raised lip of leather. iLuv designed the central panel to flip down and rest on top of the pockets when it comes time to write; you can either fold the panel in the center to flip the keyboard upwards, which works well, or detach the keyboard and lay it down atop the panel. In either case, the rear kickstand props the iPad up inside the holder. The plastic keys are bordered by a leather pad, and the underside is all plastic.
Despite its smaller size—about nine square inches smaller—iLuv went with the exact same key layout as Apple did with its Wireless Keyboard. From top to bottom, all of the same keys are present, and located in the same place. This surprised us a little, as iLuv’s latest keyboard isn’t the same one we’ve previously covered; it’s actually improved. The new keys feel great: we were immediately comfortable typing with the scissor-style keys, and able to write at full speed immediately. Our only complaint would be that the keys are a bit louder than we’d normally like. The battery is rated to last for up to five days of continuous use or 30 days of standby. A Micro-USB cable is included for charging.
The gigantic size and equally hefty price tag will be turn offs to some, but the legitimately great keyboard makes Chairman Folio more intriguing. Unfortunately, the pros and cons don’t quite balance out; Kensington’s KeyFolio Executive is markedly easier to carry at a lower price, with very similar functionality. That said, some people—particularly well-to-do professionals—may prefer the real leather and larger keyboard iLuv offers, and feel like the premium’s worth paying. All things considered, Chairman Folio is worthy of our general recommendation.