Review: Scosche freeKey Pro Bluetooth Keyboard + keyPad p2 Keyboard Case
Compatible: iPad 2
Keyboard-equipped iPad and iPad 2 cases have made significant improvements since the idea was originally introduced -- so much so that we've truly been impressed by recent offerings such as Belkin's Keyboard Folio and Targus's Versavu Keyboard and Case. While the cases themselves aren't spectacular, their keyboards have evolved from soft rubbery surfaces into hard plastic versions we actually enjoy using. Unfortunately, Scosche's new freeKey Pro Bluetooth Keyboard ($80) and keyPad p2 Keyboard Case for iPad 2 ($100) are a generation behind their latest rivals. freeKey is a standalone wireless keyboard, and keyPad p2 includes a modified version of freeKey along with a case.
Scosche is using the same basic OEM keyboard we first saw in Kensington’s KeyFolio, followed by Accessory Workshop’s tyPad Gen II Case + Wireless KeyboardM and Sena Cases’ Keyboard Folio. This one is rated at 75 hours of battery life, and like the rest, uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your iPad. Following in their path, it uses squishy rubber keys as opposed to the hard plastic ones we’ve come to really like. You can see any of those previous reviews for details on the keys, but it suffices to say here that they’re not great—particularly given how excellent the hard plastic alternatives have become, the rubber style keyboards feel all but unusable now. While you can type with them, you can’t expect the same responsiveness, accuracy, or feeling below your fingers as you’d get from a good computer keyboard; you’ll be only a little better off than with the iPad’s virtual keys.
The faux leather case itself isn’t particularly good either, although the stand is a bit different from most of the keyboard folios we’ve reviewed. Rather than requiring some sort of manipulation of the frame that holds the iPad 2 in place, keyPad has a built-in stand that’s attached to the back cover by a small ribbon, and held down with a magnet when not in use. This allows for only one real usable angle. Inside, the tablet rests between a flat back and a raised frame. As with the other folio-style cases that use similar setups, it’s more difficult to access the Sleep/Wake button, side switch, and volume rocker than it should be, while the headphone port, rear camera, speaker, and Dock Connector port are all exposed. The only modest twist here is that Scosche includes a small loop of faux leather inside the spine to hold a stylus. Somewhat oddly, the case stays shut with a magnetic tab that hangs down in front of the iPad 2’s screen when it’s set up for typing.
Aside from the fact that there’s no case in its package, freeKey only has one small difference when compared to the keyPad p2 keyboard: freeKey doesn’t include magnets. In keyPad p2, Scosche uses magnets to attach the keyboard to the case; they’re unnecessary in the standalone model. Other than that, the keyboards are exactly the same in every way, shape, and form, down to the faux leather on their back and front sides. Each includes a USB cable for charging.
Judged on its own merits, keyPad p2 is just reasonable enough at this point in time to merit a limited recommendation: it’s not bad, but there are many better options available today. Belkin and Targus’s options each cost the same as keyPad, yet have unquestionably better keyboards; their cases aren’t perfect, but they’re more versatile than this one. freeKey is harder to recommend: $80 for a sub-par keyboard isn’t a good value, particularly when you consider that Apple’s much better Wireless Keyboard can be had for $11 less. You’re getting literally nothing in freeKey that Apple doesn’t do better with its own accessory, save for a rechargeable battery. For the price difference, you could get a set of AA’s and a wall charger on your own, and have a much better typing and aesthetic experience.