It's not often that I get to try something before it's released - but Belkin gave me the opportunity to do just that when they sent me over a pre-production sample of their 'Ultimate Keyboard For iPad'.
My two previous experiences with iPad keyboards had been less than satisfactory...but it seems like things have moved on in leaps and bounds since then. One of my main objections to using a physical keyboard with the iPad in the past was the constant need to revert back to touching the screen to do things like move the cursor or use cut and paste. Now I don't know whether Apple has revised the way that the iPad can interact with a bluetooth keyboard - or whether the previous keyboards I used were just particularly poor - but it transpires that functions like these can now be accessed directly from the keyboard itself. This makes a physical keyboard a much more attractive and useful proposition. I didn't demonstrate it in the video - but Command X, C, V also work for Cut, Copy and Paste and B, I and U operate Bold Italic and Underline as expected.
Now as this was a pre-production version I was advised that there were a couple of things that are being tidied up before release - the open to wake function has yet to be implemented and the rubber pads to protect the iPad are not the finished article. The case is due out in a few weeks and I can see it being very popular with people who like to travel light and type everywhere.
I post these blog entries from a laptop - if I had to type them on an iPad screen it would be torture. The Belkin Ultimate Keyboard case would make jobs like this a breeze, even in the cramped conditions of an economy (coach) seat on an airplane. The price is right at the top end - but people who make their living from typing will appreciate the true value of a quality product like this.
One thing I didn't mention in the video was it's weight, it's probably lighter than my normal iPad case - according to the Belkin website it's just 17 ounces or 481 grams.
More information is available from Belkin themselves - links below