IPEVO is an innovative computer peripheral manufacturer that has produced some rather impressive products -- the P2V USB Document Cam and Tubular Wireless Speakers, to name two -- and is now making a leap into the iPad market with two new products. The Typi (US$79) is a folio case for iPad with a removable Bluetooth keyboard, while Chopstakes ($34.95 - $45.95 per pair) are a pair of styli for your favorite tablet.
IPEVO Typi folio case and Bluetooth keyboard
TUAW has reviewed a number of folio cases for the iPad and iPad 2. These cases all have one thing in common -- they look somewhat book-like, and totally encase the iPad. For the most part, the cases are made of either a plastic material or a more natural material like leather. We've also reviewed a lot of keyboard cases for iPad -- these are usually designed like a folio, but include a stationary or removable Bluetooth keyboard so that users can type on a real keyboard rather than the virtual keyboard on the iPad.
The Typi is a folio keyboard case that comes in either black or tan felt with a brown leather strap. That strap serves several purposes -- when the Typi is closed, it wraps around to the front of the case and holds everything in place with a strong magnet. When the Typi is opened, there is a snap on the strap that plugs into one of three receptacles to prop up the iPad's screen.
I have to admit that the Typi is one of the better-looking folio cases I've had a chance to review. The review case has the tan exterior, and it looks very classy with the leather strap. The keyboard is encased is similar leather and is as easy on the eyes as it is on the hands.
Like many of the keyboard cases, the Typi has a removable keyboard that is held in place with magnets. If you don't like where the keyboard is, it's no problem to just move it to a more comfortable position. The keyboard comes with a standard micro-USB to USB cable for charging -- there's no AC adapter included, but considering that most of us have either an iPad "brick" or a handful of other USB charging adapters, it's a nice touch that they didn't include another one.
At $79 MSRP, the Typi is much less expensive than other keyboard folios I've reviewed. By comparison, the MSRP for the Qmadix Portfolio for iPad 2 is $149, and the two folio cases are almost identical.
I could write about the various and sundry positions that the Typi folds into, how the keyboard works with its 13 hotkeys and more, but I'll let you take a look at the very descriptive Typi page to get the details. Be sure to look at the photos in the gallery, though.
Chopstakes iPad styli
The first time IPEVO told me about the Chopstakes styli (yes, that is the plural of stylus), I wondered why anyone would need two styluses. The Chopstakes come in two models -- Long ($45.95) and Short ($34.95) -- and are made of aluminum that tapers from a square top down to a circular bottom covered ending in a soft hemispherical capacitive tip.
A lot of us don't use styluses, so what the heck are you going to do with two? I kind of got the idea about these things when I was experiencing some pain in my right fingertip this weekend. Any time I tried to use a trackpad or my iPad, it hurt. So, being a fan of chopsticks for eating Asian food, I decided to give the Chopstakes a try.
I have small hands, so I used the short Chopstakes. First, I used one of the Chopstakes as a regular old stylus. It works very well -- the short model balanced in my hand very well, and the tip provides a lot of pinpoint detail when you use a light tough, or a wider footprint when you push a little bit. The thin cylindrical bottom of the Chopstakes makes it very easy and comfortable to hold -- it's about the same diameter as a stick pen at that point, but the extra heft of the aluminum body makes it feel like a fancy pen.
I was very dubious about using two Chopstakes, but I can see several situations where it would be useful. First, if you like to use two-finger gestures like rotate or zoom-in/zoom-out, they're impossible to do with traditional single fixed point styluses. Holding a pair of styluses as if they were a pair of chopsticks makes it possible to do two-finger multitouch gestures while using the Chopstakes.
In this case, your hands are further up on the Chopstakes, near the wider and square tops. This part of the design makes is comfortable to hold the styluses like a pair of chopsticks. By the way, if you've never used chopsticks, there's a three-step tutorial inside the cardboard liner in which the Chopstakes are packed. The Chopstakes are packed in a lockable plastic carrying case, perfect for carrying the pair in a backpack or bag.
I can think of other uses for the Chopstakes. If you're using a music app, they're quite useful as drumsticks -- I used 'em, one in each hand, on some of the drum kits in Garage Band for iPad, and did a reasonable job drumming (although that's really Dave Caolo's forté). I also played around with the two styli in the fun Bebot app, although I can't really say that it was an improvement over just using two fingers.
How did the Chopstakes work instead of a finger on the surface of the iPad? Just fine. And I plan on continuing to use one of the pair as a iPad stylus until my finger decides to stop hurting.
IPEVO seems to understand the Apple market. They're doing a great job of making well-designed, well-made, and reasonably-priced products that fill specific needs. Sure, there are other folio keyboard cases for the iPad 2 out there, but the Typi is nicely constructed, attractive, and less expensive than similar cases. The Chopstakes are unique, and might find a place in the iPad bag of musicians, painters, and photographers who want to try out a well-balanced and high quality pair of styluses.