Review: Solid Line Products RightShift 2 Removable Keyboard Case for iPad 2
Following the mid-2011 release of RightShift, an iPad 2 keyboard case that was substantially similar to OEM versions we've previously tested, Solid Line Products went back to the drawing board for an improved sequel. Behold RightShift 2 ($99), which has tweaked pretty much everything: gone are the squishy rubber keyboard, ill-fitting tablet frame, and faux leather body. All have been replaced with better components that add up to a much stronger competitor; the new design even includes a fully detachable, hard plastic-keyed keyboard.
The outside of the folio-style case is now a matte-finished rubber hex pattern that feels somewhat like the bottom of a sneaker, held closed with an elastic strap. Solid Line’s iPad 2 holder is a hard plastic frame with a fabric anti-scratch lining, nicely contoured at the top for holes and buttons, with a somewhat more open bottom near the speaker and Dock Connector. Notably, the rubber texture doesn’t extend from edge of the back shell; some glossy black plastic is left exposed. Solid Line’s shell looks virtually identical to The Joy Factory’s SmartSuit 2, but regardless, it’s better than the original RightShift design, which made it more difficult to access the ports and buttons.
RightShift 2’s keyboard panel is magnetically attached to the left side of the folio. At only about 1/4” thick, it’s quite light, and a battery inside offers the same 90 hours of continuous Bluetooth wireless typing as the previous version, rechargeable via a Micro USB port and included cable. It’s easy to remove the keyboard by pulling at it, but it stays securely in place otherwise. Made from hard matte plastic, the keyboard has been improved with scissor-style larger and more naturally arranged keys. In fact, these are some of the largest keys we’ve seen on a third-party iPad keyboard; they’re just about the same size as those on Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, although there are much smaller gaps between them. We found typing to be a real pleasure. All of the keys were where we expected them to be, and thanks to the full-size keys, touch typing was as effective as on any computer keyboard. The iOS-function keys along the top are nice too, although the Pause/Break and Prt Sc/Sys RQ buttons suggest that this keyboard isn’t wholly unique to the iPad.
Small feet on the iPad 2 frame fit into two sets of indentations, allowing for different screen angles. When the keyboard is removed, you can actually access a much larger range of angles by letting the feet rest against the inside of the rubber cover. Taking the keyboard off also allows the case to be used naturally on its own during times when extended typing isn’t necessary, sort of a different take on the concept Nuu introduced with its Detachable Keyboard & Case. Despite the use of magnets to hold the keyboard in place, there are none to activate the iPad 2’s automatic locking feature, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Given how similar they are in concept and overall quality, RightShift 2 should be considered in the same breath as Adonit’s Writer 2 Plus, which is currently the best keyboard case for the iPad 2. Both of these options include high-quality, removable keyboards that are easy to type on; Solid Line’s has the advantage when it comes to sheer keyboard size. Writer 2 Plus excels in certain areas too, providing better coverage for the iPad 2, especially along the bottom edge. It’s also clear that Adonit takes design very seriously, and chose a slicker look and materials; as good as it is overall, RightShift 2 has some comparatively inexpensive-feeling touches.
Minor issues aside, RightShift 2 is definitely an improvement over the original. Pretty much everything that could have been made better is in fact markedly improved here. While there’s still a certain less than premium feeling to each of the components, they all work, and generally work quite well. For all of these reasons, RightShift 2 earns an B+ rating and our strong general recommendation. It’s a very good choice if you’re looking for a superior keyboard; that said, superior materials and additional magnets to lock the iPad’s screen would have made it even better.