Review: Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case for iPad 2
Kensington's past keyboard-and-case options for the iPad and iPad 2 have fallen in the middle of the road: both versions of its KeyFolio Keyboard Case were good rather than great, primarily because they featured an OEM-developed squishy rubber keyboard that was acceptable rather than excellent, alongside an uninspired leather frame. With the release of its KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case for iPad 2 ($100), Kensington has modified both components to create a wholly new accessory that improves upon its predecessors in some areas and falls behind in others.
The big difference here—and the really good one—is the keyboard. Kensington chose to use a hard plastic scissor-key style version here, a vast improvement over the rubber models we’ve seen so many of. From end to end, it’s just a bit longer than the height of the iPad 2, measuring a little over 10”. The keys are smaller than those on Apple’s Wireless Keyboard but have a very similar layout and spacing structure. There are a few extra buttons, including a “.com” key immediately under the “return” key, as well as iOS-specific function keys along the top row. We typed most of this review using the keyboard, and the only issue we encountered was occasionally hitting the “up arrow” key when going for “shift”—but even that was rare, and we compensated quickly. The battery is rated for 90 hours of typing time between charges, which are accomplished via an included USB to Micro-USB cable. Overall, this is a very good keyboard, and we enjoyed using it.
In terms of the case itself, there is one positive change alongside a few negative ones. First, the up side: the frame that holds the tablet in place is on a 360° hinge, allowing it to rotate all the way around. This means that typing can be done in landscape or portrait orientation; it’s a feature we have seen before, though not frequently. We did find both stand angles to be somewhat steeper than we would normally prefer though, at just over 90°.
Now for the bad. Kensington’s prior keyboard cases were made from leather, but this time has opted for a very obvious polyurethane plastic that certainly doesn’t look or feel as nice. The holder itself isn’t very good either; the tablet gets sandwiched between a large, flat back and a bezel frame rather than a more contoured iPad 2-holding shell. All four corners are exposed, and the scoops for the front camera and Home button are just off of center even when pushed all the way to the edge of the loose-fitting holder. The ports and buttons are accessible, though, a fact that can’t be taken for granted when compared to some other folio-style cases. Apple’s rear camera, unfortunately, isn’t as open. It’s deeply recessed under two layers of polyurethane and slides around quite a bit. Unless it’s held precisely in place, the camera is at least partially blocked in most positions.
Ultimately, KeyFolio Pro is the combination of a drastically improved keyboard with a less impressive case. If the case had jumped in quality or even maintained what the original models offered, it would be easier to recommend this newer option. It’s clear that the company was looking to preserve the price point while improving the keyboard; and the typing boost came at the expense of the case. For this reason, KeyFolio Pro merits a flat B and general recommendation. The typing is very close to great, but it’s really the only redeeming feature given the case’s obvious weaknesses.