Belkin’s newest keyboard is in an arena with very few competitors. Secure Wired Keyboard for iPad with Lightning Connector ($60) — the name kind of says it all. This full-sized plastic keyboard connects to any Lightning-equipped iPad using a cable, rather than requiring a Bluetooth connection. In addition to a fully QWERTY layout, it features music tracking, volume, and lock screen buttons at the top. Available to the public, it’s aimed at institutions where Bluetooth may not be allowed, or battery life may be an issue. Even though they’re not listed on the official specs page, the keyboard works with iPhones and iPod touches as well.
Likely because it’s designed to be more stationary than travel-friendly, the keyboard is chunkier than those built into cases. Measuring just over a foot across, and about 6.6” deep, it ranges from 0.75” at its thickest, the back end, to about 0.5” at the front. Made of mostly matte black plastic—there’s a ring of glossy material around the exterior—it feels sturdy, but not as dense as one might expect. The 23.5” cable comes out of the left side of the rear edge, with the iPad instantly recognizing the keyboard as soon as it’s plugged in.
One of the benefits of a physically larger keyboard is physically larger keys. Here, they’re 0.63” square, which is just a tad larger than those on Apple’s keyboards, and they’re almost a full 0.1” tall. The scissor-style keys are pretty great to type on. Not only are they large enough to prevent cramped hands, but the layout doesn’t move things around. All of the punctuation keys are where they’re supposed to be, as are control, option, and command. It’s a small thing, but the keys sound a bit more “clacky” than “clicky” to us; if the Apple keyboard sounds metallic, this one sounds more like plastic. Somewhat surprisingly, there are only a few iPad function keys built-in. Down in the bottom left corner is a Home button, and there are small, chiclet-style tracking, lock, and volume buttons along the top.
The build quality is nice and the typing experience is great, meaning Belkin got the two most important qualities of its keyboard right. If there’s anything missing, it’s a stand. While some people will be able to use their cases as stands, others may not. Even something inexpensive like what Macally includes with its comparable IKEYLT would be appreciated. We prefer the way this one looks and feels though, earning it a higher strong general recommendation. At the same price, it’s a more attractive option.
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Compatibility: iPad (4th-Gen), iPad Air, iPad mini