We were expecting a flood of iPad-oriented Bluetooth keyboards to hit the second Apple announced that its tablet would support them, but it's basically been crickets so far -- except for the AIDACASE KeyCase Folio Deluxe, which we first saw hit the FCC in April and is now finally shipping. But after all the wait, is it actually worth $100 to lug this thing around with your iPad? We've been testing a review unit -- head past the break to find out.
Update: The video should be working now (if you were having issues). Sorry about that folks!
Build-wise, the KeyCase Folio Deluxe is pretty much what you'd expect from a cheaper iPad case: it's made of pleather, it folds up in what we've come to think of as the standard way, and the top flap closes up with a magnetic latch. It's not exactly premium, but it'll do the job. The keyboard is obviously built into the flap opposite the iPad pocket, and there's a little ridge just above it -- when you unfold it, the iPad rests loosely on the ridge at an angle, holding it up. That's all there is to it, though -- since nothing is fixed in place, there's no way you could use the KeyCase on your lap -- it'd just fall right down. Folded up, the entire package is much thicker than a stock iPad, of course -- it's close to netbook size. There's no way to fold the case so the keyboard is out of your way, though -- it's faux-laptop mode or nothing.
Pairing things is up quite easy -- we've covered iOS Bluetooth keyboard pairing in the past -- and you can turn the keyboard off if you don't need it. Charging happens through a micro-USB port -- we didn't get to test battery life to the limit, but we didn't have any problems getting a day of use out of it.
The problem, however, is that we didn't really want to use it for a full day. It's just not that great as a keyboard -- the keys are made from one giant sheet of rubber, and they feel that way. They're mushy and lack any sort of feel at all. Worse, they're small and spaced so close together that you can't really tell them apart, leading to inaccuracy -- maybe we've been spoiled by chiclet keyboards, but we definitely like feeling the edges of our keycaps, and that's not happening here. Functionality-wise it's perfectly serviceable -- the home button works as a home button, and there's even a command key for copy-and-paste keyboard shortcuts, but we don't know if we could ever get past the rubbery blah of the keyboard itself.
Honestly, we don't know if it's worth $100 for the KeyCase Folio Deluxe. It's a concept we've been wanting to see hit production since the iPad was first announced, but we can't say we were hoping to see it rendered in pleather and floppy rubber. If you're desperate for an all-in-one travel keyboard for your iPad, it's certainly worth a look, but we'll stick with our regular Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and wait for something better to arrive down the line.