When Apple launched the iPad back in 2010, the potential to create great physical keyboards to accompany it was fantastic. Partly because the iPad was completely devoid of physical keys, and partly because the keyboard dock that Apple launched alongside it was downright awful.
Over the past couple of years, a couple of companies have really shone in this market: ZAGG and Logitech. But for the iPad 4, I actually preferred Belkin’s Ultimate Keyboard to either of those two, and I have to say – again – the company has knocked it out the park with its latest Thin Type keyboard.
First off, the build quality is superb. The main body of the Thin Type is made from one piece of metal. Unlike others which use a plastic core, and cover it with a metal covering, the Belkin Thin Type is solid metal, with a plastic keyboard inserted inside. This ensures that the keyboard is incredibly sturdy and solid when typing. And this is helped even further by the small, grippy rubberized feet placed on the base of the cover. When typing, your iPad won’t slip and slide around all over the surface of your desk.
But there’s so much more to it. On the very front edge, there’s a neat indent, like you’d expect to see on a MacBook’s front edge. It gives just enough room to make lifting the iPad open really simple. Just above the lip are two more rubberized pads that your iPad rests on when facedown.
As covers go, the Belkin isn’t the best, or the most attractive. It’s clearly much more a keyboard than it is a cover. On the underside is quite a large, rectangular block of plastic that the battery sits in. just next to that is a ridge, which kind of seems pointless until you start typing. Firstly, it acts as a rest, tilting the keyboard up to a very slight, but comfortable angle for typing. Secondly, on its opposite side is the long groove your iPad rests in.
The groove is rather magical too. Right in its center is a barely-detectable rubber nib, underneath which sits a button that activates the keyboard’s Bluetooth connection. So, you open up your iPad, place it in the groove and the keyboard connects. No fiddly on/off buttons, no fuss. Remove the iPad, and it switches off, conserving enough battery that you can go months without charging it.
On to the typing experience, and yet again, it’s one of the most impressive keyboard cases I’ve used for iPad. Keys are virtually full-sized, and pretty well spaced apart. Touch typing isn’t an issue for the professional, until you need to use the apostrophe. To save space, and ensure maximum key size, the apostrophe has been moved to be right next to the space bar, on the right, instead of in between the semi-colon and enter keys. It did take some time to get used to, but I’d much rather have it this way than have smaller keys and struggle typing everything.
It’s also equipped with some useful bespoke iOS buttons. You can launch Siri, take a screenshot, control music playback, lock the screen, launch the multi-tasking screen or adjust volume among other functions. All of which get their own bespoke row of keys, helping push the iPad back to a comfortable distance for typing.
All in all, the Thin Type is quite possibly one of the finest keyboard cases around. It’s well designed, stays firmly attached to your iPad in transit and offers a solid, and reliable typing experience. Apart from its looks from the outside, it’s incredibly hard to fault it. If you’re in the market for a great keyboard case that acts as a Smart Cover as well, you can do a lot worse than the Belkin Thin Type. In my mind, it’s better than either the Logitech Ultrathin or ZAGG Cover. It really is brilliant.