At Macworld | iWorld 2012, Steve Sande and I had the opportunity to play with both the Adonit Jot Pro stylus and the retooled Writer 2 Plus. We left there with Jots in hand, and I was seriously considering picking up one of the cases. However, they were on pre-order and just about ready hit the market.
We've looked at the original Writer and its successor for the iPad 2. The third generation case makes a slight name change to the Writer 2 Plus -- everything good about the Writer 2, but making it better. What I found amusing is that Adonit appears to be using up its supply of second-generation Writer boxes, referring to features no longer on the Writer 2 Plus (mainly no more need for disposable batteries).
There's little change from the Adonit Writer for iPad 2. The overall design is largely the same, with power supplied by the cylindrical hinge. However, the AAA battery requirement has been dropped, replaced with a built-in rechargeable battery and a micro-USB port for charging. While it means you have to carry around another USB cable, the Writer 2 Plus has the same charging ports as the Amazon Kindle so you can carry around one cord for multiple devices. The site boasts that the keyboard holds a charge for two weeks, and so far it's held up well.
The other big change from the original Writer design is that the Bluetooth keyboard is now detachable. Give the keyboard a tug, and it comes away from the case, and it snaps back in place easily as well. Because the magnets enabling the iPad to stand are in the hinge for the keyboard, you can still prop it up without the keyboard being on the case. You can also keep the iPad in the case if you want to use it sans keyboard, but you have the hinge to deal with. It's easier to use the quick release and remove the iPad from the case.
A new addition to the Writer 2 Plus is different-colored cases. In addition to the standard black case, you can get it in red or turquoise for $10 more. I sprung for the turquoise case and love the rich color. This makes it stand out from other iPad cases, yet it's still professional in an office setting.
The main test for the Writer 2 Plus is if it can go through my normal work day without any issues. My iPad is used as a supplement to my work computer where I can quickly look up data, check the online AP stylebook and do other tasks while designing pages. I've moved a good bit of my workflow to the iPad, so instead of grabbing a notepad to take notes when I'm called to an editor's office, I'll take my iPad. This requires removing the iPad several times from the case, and the quick-release tab held up well.
The keyboard took a little getting used to, but it's been the best keyboard out of the many iPad cases I've tried. I can type at my normal speed without having to look, however my fingers kept tripping up over the small shift key on the right, accidentally deleting text at times. Over the course of my work shift, I began using the full-sized shift key on the left, and it worked much better. I really liked having the shortcut keys to access basic iPad functions such as the home screen, quick-switching between apps, search, etc. A few days later, my keyboard issues were gone as I got used to typing with the case.
What about the third-generation iPad?
The Writer 2 Plus came out at a bit of an awkward time for Adonit, as the new iPad was announced and released shortly after the case made its debut at CES and Macworld | iWorld. While initial reports from users show that the third-generation iPad does fit the case, some of the features aren't working such as the iPad going to sleep when the case is closed, nor does the keyboard go to sleep. The company is expected to release official word on the third-generation iPad issue soon.
I wasn't quite sure how I would like a keyboard folio, but after a couple of days with the Writer 2 Plus, I'm planning to keep it. The keyboard is superb and the case is slim - easily allowing me to carry my iPad with my MacBook Air in my normal bags.
As Steve Sande and Chris White noted in their reviews of the earlier products, "The Writer itself looks and feels like it could be an Apple product," and I agree with this. If you're looking for a keyboard case for your third-generation iPad, Adonit has said the Writer 2 Plus should fit it, and users confirmed that it does.
The black Writer 2 Plus is $99, and the red and turquoise versions are $109. If you're looking for a solid keyboard case for the iPad 2, you won't get a better one for the price. However, if you have the third-generation iPad, it's best to wait and see what tweaks Adonit is planning to do before buying the case.