Belkin QODE Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case
I haven’t been very active on the internet the past few months, but that doesn’t mean I stopped liking things. In fact, giving myself that time back enabled me to like even more stuff. Which is nice.
One of the things I’ve managed to do in my personal life (work is still a different story) is almost completely eliminate the need for a Mac on a day-to-day basis. I still have and use a MacBook Air for some specific things, and I have a Mac mini on the network to serve media around the house, but my iPad Air 2 is my main personal computing device now. I toyed with the idea of the Pro, but I’m still just not sure that it’s the right device for me. I see tremendous value in having that extra screen space for iOS to really shine, but it still feels a little unwieldy in many of the places I currently use my iPad.
I’ve long favored separate keyboards for the iPad, most recently the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard. It’s a great keyboard in a compact case, and one of the best portable keyboards I’ve ever used. But I realized that while I like the idea of a separate keyboard, in reality, if it’s not always there, I might be less inclined to actually get it and use it, which means I’m less inclined to capture ideas and write–which is a lot of the reason I like the iPad so much in the first place.
With that in mind, I’ve stuck to the Air 2, and augmented it with the Belkin QODE Ultimate Pro Keyboard Case. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s easily the best iPad keyboard I’ve ever used.
The keys are nicely sized and spaced, and feel great to type on. (I’ve always been ok with the slightly smaller keyboard sizes of iPad keyboards though, so YMMV.) Soft, but not mushy, requiring just enough effort to trigger. I’d say they’re somewhere between the old MacBook Pro keys and the new MacBook keys. There are some iOS-specific function keys, which while nothing new, are welcome. You can also pair two Bluetooth devices and switch between them. Something else that I hadn’t considered is portrait mode; you can rotate the iPad into portrait orientation and write that way as well if you prefer. Not a thing I’d do often, but it’s pretty cool that you can do it, and I can see how it would definitely help in some areas.
The clincher for me is that you can fully detach the iPad and use it by itself very easily. I really can’t get down with folio-style cases that always have to be connected, because while the utility of having keys always there is nice, sometimes I absolutely don’t need them and want to be unencumbered. You have to put the iPad into a back piece, which basically makes the ordinarily svelte Air 2 into a bit of a clunker, but the upside is that it leaves the magnetic side open, so you can use a Smart Cover if you like, and despite the weight addition, the feel of the back case is quite nice.
So physically, it’s pretty great. There’s also a (sort of) weird software component. There’s an app to go along with the keyboard that (supposedly) allows you to update firmware and customize key automations. Sounds awesome, right? Well, it’s kind of a hot mess in that it hasn’t been updated in a while and basically is totally broken right now. But, if it gets an update, it could make this thing completely bananas.
Ultimately, I came to realize that I wanted the always-connected abilities of a keyboard similar to the iPad Pro, but without sacrificing the size and portability I find most comfortable (right now, at least). The Ultimate Pro, while adding a bit of bulk to an otherwise incomprehensibly lightweight device provides a trade-off I’m willing to make right now. I’m delighted with it, and using my iPad even more, which makes me very happy.