We should’ve been skeptical when a $40 Bluetooth keyboard case for the iPad Air arrived at the office. After all, most of the competition sells for twice that, or more. But having been surprised by the quality of New Trent’s Airbender Mini, we decided to give Favi’s Screen Portfolio Case with Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad Air ($40) a try. The case comes in black, silver, or gold, and separates into three pieces. It also reminds us why it’s often worth it to pay a bit more when it comes to iDevice accessories.
Like almost all keyboard cases, this one is a hard plastic folio, with the keyboard located on the inside of the front cover. Oftentimes, the outside of the lid is made to look nice, even though it ends up being the base when you’re typing. Favi, on the other hand, made its case a little less presentable. With eight rubber feet and a regulatory sticker, it looks more like the back or bottom of an accessory than the front. This is really a cosmetic issue though, and the least offensive of the problems with the case.
Much like Airbender Mini, Screen Portfolio Case uses a removable arm with a lens cap-style clip to connect the tablet holder to the keyboard, allowing for landscape or portrait orientation positioning. This one’s all plastic though, and the case itself is a thin shell, rather than an Otterbox clone. Although it fits properly, the shell leaves all the buttons and ports exposed, including the two microphones with one abnormally long cutaway, and the iSight camera hole is actually a little bit off-center, although it doesn’t obscure the lens. When separated from the arm, there’s a large opening over the Apple logo. We were pleased to find that the setup does have magnets that lock the screen when the case is closed.
If you want the iPad to rest against the plastic base with the keyboard attached, rather than float in the air, the only placement that works is directly above the top row of keys, placing the screen at a 75 degree angle. It’s not ideal, and it doesn’t rest perfectly flat, so the tablet still wobbles when you tap it. The keyboard can separate from the arm when you trigger a release, and it’s a bit heavier than competing models. Its rechargeable battery is rated for 80 hours of continuous use. We found the small, plastic keys to actually feel pretty comfortable, and to register taps correctly. Most of the commonly used keys are in the right place, including the apostrophe, which is sometimes an issue, but there’s one big problem.
In the top right corner is a delete key, with a three-quarters length backspace key right below it. Most iPad keyboards only have the former key, and have the lock control mapped there as a secondary function. Unfortunately, Favi has done the opposite. That is, pressing the button that one’s fingers naturally will gravitate towards to fix a mistake actually turns the iPad’s screen off. We found this to be very frustrating during the testing process.
On paper, Screen Portfolio Case seems like a strong enough product, and a great bargain. As it turns out, however, it really is a case of “you get what you pay for.” None of the issues are total deal breakers, and the accessory works as advertised. It’s just not a great experience, or even a very good one. From the thin shell to the poorly positioned arm to the really unfortunate delete key issue, it’s just not quite up to snuff, earning a C+ rating. Price is the greatest strength here, and that’s a big factor; everything else needs some degree of refinement.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPad Air