Review: Wekreat Type Rider for iPad 2
We weren't quite sure what to expect when we took it out of the box, but after testing Type Rider for iPad 2 ($99), we were glad to discover that this is a surprisingly cool offering. Wekreat's combination keyboard/folio-style case is done differently than any we have seen in the past and has a number of cool features; consequently, it really stands out against the rest of the field, which is packed with mildly successful clones that have been based on the same reference design.
Most of the iPad keyboard cases out there are made from soft leather or faux leather, with a pocket for the iPad on one side and a soft, rubber-topped keyboard on the other. Of course there are exceptions such as the Logitech Keyboard Case, which isn’t truly a case but does have a hard plastic keyboard. Type Rider takes some cues from both styles, and Wekreat adds its own unique touches. Instead of using a simple pocket, the tablet is held in place using a hard plastic shell. There are openings for all of the ports and buttons; they’re tailored pretty well across the bottom and side, but there’s one long hole along the top for the Sleep/Wake button, microphone, and headphone port, which leaves way too much of the iPad 2’s metal unnecessarily exposed.
Covering most of the shell and protecting the screen is a soft rubber casing with an elastic band to hold everything shut. The front cover is rather thick, because it simultaneously houses the keyboard and a slot for holding the iPad 2 at a good typing angle. It’s lined with a soft velvety material and the inside left edge has magnets embedded, which automatically lock and unlock the tablet’s screen, a feature we appreciate. While it’s unfortunate that the case adds quite a bit of bulk to the iPad 2, in both thickness and weight, so do the other keyboard case options we’ve tested. If you’re in the market for an accessory like this, you’ll likely be glad to look past that fact for the added functionality.
There are other compromises here, but they, too, work out. For instance, there’s no denying that the Bluetooth keyboard here is quite small, but it feels pretty good: the individual hard plastic keys are 80%-90% the size of those on a standard keyboard and much closer together, so by comparison with typing on Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, your hands will feel cramped. Again, this is par for the course with iPad-sized physical keyboards, so with a little bit of practice, touch typists will be able to write without looking. We found that we were able to type properly on the keyboard pretty quickly, and liked the responsiveness of the keys, which didn’t stick or fail to register keystrokes like some of the other rubber keyboards we’ve tested.
All of the expected keys are present and for the most part in the right locations; only the right shift key is smaller than the left, so it takes a little time to acclimate. Across the top are iPad-specific function keys, including Home, onscreen keyboard, Spotlight, slideshow, screen lock, select, cut, copy, paste, track controls, and volume controls. As with other alternatives, syncing the keyboard with the iPad 2 is quite easy: there’s a simple on/off switch and a recessed “pair” button that can be pressed the first time with the tip of a pen. The integrated battery charges via an included Micro USB cable, and lasts for 100 continuous working hours between recharges.
Another benefit of Type Rider isn’t immediately obvious: the keyboard is removable. It’s held in place by four magnets on its underside as well as the pressure from the ridges it presses up against. This is really a nice feature; it allows you to use the keyboard in other orientations, or even with other devices. There is a downside, though. At first the keyboard stayed quite firmly in place, but after some use it popped out a little bit more easily than we would like. Sometimes, it can come unattached simply by transporting the case. On more than one occasion we opened Type Rider and the keyboard was out of its niche, resting on the screen of the iPad 2.
For the same price as most of the other keyboard cases we have seen, Type Rider offers one of the best values in terms of functionality and design, albeit with a couple of significant caveats. We were really impressed by Wekreat’s use of a form fitting shell instead of a pocket, the inclusion of magnets to activate the automatic iPad 2 screen locking feature, and a hard-key removable keyboard. All of these factors weighed in favor of a B+ rating, which would have been a higher rating than any iPad keyboard case on the market. On the other hand, the open top surface, the tendency of the keyboard to detach inside, and the bulk of the case were all issues that led us to feel that a flat B was appropriate. Overall, we recommend Type Rider as one of the best keyboard case solutions for the iPad 2; iterative improvements could easily make it the category’s leader.