QODE Thin Type for iPad Air – First impressions

belkin-qode-pic2

I’m a big fan of my iPad and take it with me most places in its free and unfettered form. However, on those occasions when I want to hunker down and get an extend piece of prose out into the world, I do like to whip out a Bluetooth keyboard and really dig in. So imagine my delight when Belkin announced the release of the new QODE Thin Type for iPad Air, one of the thinnest keyboards on the market. All the magic of typing, without ruining the Air’s sleek form factor. Too good to be true? I went to the internet to check.

ZDNet told me everything I wanted to hear, almost straight away:

The typing experience on the Thin Type is really good. The chiclet keys are as good as those found on most laptops. This is due to the spacing and tactile feel of the keys. Fast touch typing is easily supported by this keyboard.

I love a good chiclet keyboard and still mourn the theft of my Macbook Air on a near daily basis. To be able to get a laptop level typing experience on a tablet is the sort of thing I dream about.

However CNET, if not exactly shattering, my dreams, at least injected a tiny dose of reality.

Typing was comfy, but I had a few more typing errors than on Logitech’s stellar keyboard. Maybe I wasn’t pressing down hard enough on the keys. So, it’s a very good but not great typing experience.

iLounge returned to this “almost but not quite” theme.

As for the keys themselves, they’re very close to great, with a small layout issue being the only real negative factor. Although the letter keys are somewhat small at 0.52” tall by 0.56” wide—others are shorter and narrower—we found them to be very comfortable to type on. There’s a slightly textured finish that feels pleasant to the touch, and the keys have a tactility similar to that of Apple’s keyboards. They travel further than the thickness of the keyboard would have you think, and click pleasantly.

This sounds like something I could happily live with.The Unofficial Apple Weblog TUAW, expands on Belkin’s keyboard offering.

Belkin put a completely separate row of keys onto the top of the QODE for iPad special functions — those keys aren’t shared with with the number row as on the Logitech Ultrathin so there’s no need to hold down the Fn key to get them to work.

belkin-qode

Take that Ultrathin! The QODE is powered by a rechargeable battery that Belkin claim will keep you going for 79 hours. However, it too comes with some downsides. According to Gotta Be Mobile

One of the unique features about this particular keyboard cover is the large bump along the back edge that houses the battery. This means that the keyboard has a slight rake to it from front to back when in typing position. While the battery bump provides for extra battery life, it also makes the thinness of the keyboard seem less thin than the measurements indicate.

So there is a little bulk, maybe even a little more bulk than I’d like. But is it worth it for the additional battery power? According to iLounge, there are some clever things at work to keep the battery chugging along.

The keyboard cover uses a number of techniques to help save its own battery life, and the iPad Air’s battery life, as well. Embedded magnets lock the tablet when Qode Thin Type is being used as a lid — a standard but appreciated feature. When you switch to typing mode, the iPad gets inserted into the ridge, and can be positioned in either landscape or portrait orientation. A small button gets depressed when you do so, signalling the keyboard to wake from sleep and reconnect, and turning on the iPad’s screen, if it’s off. Pull the tablet away, and the keyboard goes into a resting mode. We found the system to work consistently well.

And according to Gotta Be Mobile this all pays off.

That extra battery is built to last. According to Belkin it will keep going for up to “79 hours of active typing time” and up to six months on standby. Most external keyboards do quite well on a charge, but I’ve never seen a claim of up to 79 hours before. Suffice it to say I have spent some time typing on the keyboard, but not that much. A micro USB cable is included for those times you do need to charge it up. The battery bump also provides for a nice hand grip when you are carrying the cover closed on the iPad Air.

So what’s the general feeling? It’s clear that the QODE is far from a perfect keyboard. But what in life is truly perfect? Lotus Biscuit Spread and not much else. But is it good enough.

CNET seem to think so.

I wrote this whole review on it, and I have warm feelings about the Thin Type. I want to take it with me everywhere… the Thin Type, overall, is a winner based on design alone. Consider it strongly if you want a premium iPad Air keyboard. It might not trounce Logitech’s, but it’s awfully

And I’ll let TUAW get the last word:

The Belkin QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air has plenty of competition out there, particularly from Logitech’s similar Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. The QODE, despite some odd key placement, is a worthy competitor to the last generation of the Logitech Ultrathin. The slightly larger keys and precise key response almost make up for combining other keys in non-standard ways, and the solidity of the construction is a plus. Knowing for sure that the keyboard is really shut off when the iPad Air is removed from it?

The Belkin QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case for iPad Air (F5L155) is out now for £89.99/€99.99