Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case

I bought Belkin Qode Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air. I came to conclusion that my Macbook Pro 15″ is too much to carry around all the time, especially since I often take my son to kindergarten and have a lot of other things to carry around every morning. But then I very much need something to help with typing with when I’m outdoors.

I’m positively surprised. Although the experience of typing with this is not as comfortable as with my Macbook Pro it’s way better than with touch screen. The layout of the keys is clearly designed mac users in mind. It’s nearly perfect in fact, except the colon key which is relocated near spacebar; this will take some getting used to.

The upper row of keys from left to right have home screen button, lock screen button, app switching button, keyboard shortcut, screenshot button, three mysterious buttons that resemble ancient portable TV (what are those things?), music play controls and volume controls, and pair button(1). When placing the iPad on the groove, the on screen keyboard automatically slides away, but can be summoned by using the keyboard button. The keyboards can be switched on the fly by pressing fn + the colon key which takes some getting used to as the language can be changed only by repeated presses, not by arrow keys although the list style suggests so. (2) Siri has it’s own shortcut key as well between the fn and option key. (3)

The combo of iPad and Bluetooth keyboard is a well working package. Apple has clearly designed iPad for this use scenario in mind. When typing, the on screen keyboard slides away from the view. Selecting text and copy&paste works just like when using mac and it’s possible to jump words and paragraphs by pressing option key plus arrow keys. Even command + z works for undo.

I notice my fingers fumbling around for the nonexistent trackpad and then I intuitively tend to touch the screen which brings the screen obscuring on screen keyboard. Eventually my nervous system will get used to navigating with option + arrow keys which is a good thing even when using real computer. It is quite interesting phenomena psychologically. This combination might change my way of working for the better actually.

Indeed it is very exhausting to reach for the screen; it breaks the concentration. A lot has been written about the ergonomics of this type of setup and I can really second that. When our hands and fingers are resting on one plane it does feel strange having to move them to the other. When using iPad alone this doesn’t matter because we are handling the device anyway and our mind is in that kind of space. But typing on keys and then taking our hand off from the surface and reach to another tangent, it just doesn’t feel natural. This might be the reason why there are no touch screen Macs.

However, with a little practice it’s easy to get used to the handy keyboard shortcuts.

The keyboard also works when placing iPad vertically in the groove. (4) However the vertical orientation somehow just doesn’t feel right for me, especially when using earphones, since the cable will be getting on the way, a lot. The horizontal position instead is a sweet deal, the earphone jack is positioned on the lower corner, volume controls and the orientation lock/mute switch are nicely on the top.

Notes:

  1. I didn’t need to use the button; I just selected the keyboard from the settings app, no pairing was necessary.
  2. Typing Finnish is possible with this keyboard although it took me a while to realize that ö is next to the space bar since it’s the colon key in the US layout.
  3. I can’t see myself ever using the siri key.
  4. The button which turns on the keyboard is in the center; placing the iPad exactly on the center might be a bit unreliable because the button will be exactly on the same position as the lighting port connection; therefore the button might not be pushed properly. So it might be necessary to offset the device a bit.
  5. Finally : As I was typing this (with the keyboard) I ran into the super ridiculous issue with the under-finger-loupe thing as I was selecting piece of text with my finger (I still don’t remember that I could just easily move around with arrow keys). The loupe behaved as if the iPad was in portrait orientation. Complete madness.

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