Best iPad Mini Keyboard case: Belkin FastFit vs Logitech Ultrathin

iPad-Mini-Keyboard

Retina display quibbles aside, the iPad mini is maybe the best iPad Apple have made to date and for certain tasks it has been one of our most pleasurable mobile computing experiences in a long, long time. But as with all iPads from time to time a physical keyboard would be nice (although time has shown it’s far from essential). Two peripheral heavyweights announced new iPad mini keyboard cases this week so we thought we’d do a little face off. Full disclosure – the Logitech iPad Folding keyboard case is maybe the best portable iPad keyboard we’ve ever used so going in it was Logitech’s game to lose.

FastFit-Stand

Belkin FastFit Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Case

In the red corner, weighing in at just 7 mm thick, the FastFit keyboard case is thinner than the iPad mini itself. And we know you don’t weigh thickness. Unlike netbooks of yesteryear the TruType keys are well-spaced for fast, cramp-free typing. Each key has a spring mechanism that provides tactile feedback when struck.

The case is also durable, crafted from anodised aircraft-grade aluminium and is held in place with magnets (how *do* they work?). The case’s low-powered Bluetooth 3.0 connection and 200mAh battery ensure comfortable wireless typing with optimal battery life The FastFit Keyboard can last for 155 hours of active use without needing a charge. FastFit Keyboard’s “auto-wake” feature activates the iPad mini when the case is opened, and vice versa – a now standard feature that seemed almost magical when Apple introduced the Smart Cover.

The FastFit Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Case for iPad mini has an MSRP of £59.99 and will be available in June.

Ultrathin-Keyboard-Cover-Belkin

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini has the same instant On/Off function and generally has feature parity with the FastFit. Also utilising the power of integrated magnets to fasten, the slim aluminium cover is durable whilst adding very little weight to your iPad. The built-in Bluetooth EasyType keyboard, offers traditional typing plus iPad mini function shortcut keys for frequently used commands, such as copy and paste. The keyboard has a three-month battery life (based on usage of two hours per day), which works out to 180 hours over the FastFit’s 155.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini has a launch date of February 2013, for a suggested retail price of £69.99.

The Verdict

There’s obviously not much in it when two seasoned keyboard pros bring similar products to the market. Belkin have the slightly cheaper offering, but Logitech have superior battery life. The deciding factor for us was availability and the ability to get your hands on the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini 3 months earlier gave it the edge.

Best iPad mini accessories: Neat additions to the iPad’s little brother

So, what do you get for the person who has everything – or at least who has the new iPad mini? Well scratch your heads no longer, for accessory makers have been quick off the mark to bring out some neat additions to the diminutive iconic tablet.

Belkin-Keyboard

Belkin has produced a new portable keyboard for anyone who likes to type up long emails or documents on their tablet. The Belkin Portable Keyboard Case combines a removable keyboard and a folio to keep it all protected. When not in use the keyboard can be folded flat into the case. The keypad connects to the tablet via Bluetooth, is rechargeable using USB to mini USB cable (included) and has a camera lens cutout so you can still take photos on the move.

The Portable Keyboard Case for iPad mini costs £69.99 and is available from early December.

Belkin.com

There are some neat-looking cases coming onto the market for the iPad mini as well:

If you’re a tad clumsy, or careless with your gadgets, look out for a tough case like the Tough Extreme from Case-Mate. The soft exterior is wrapped around a hard skeletal structure combined with an impact-absorbing DuoFlex interior. It also includes a built-in screen protector and, so Case-Mate tells us, meets US military standards for protecting against shock/drop, wind/rain, sand/dust and vibration (although we do wonder whether it has ever been tested on a bar crawl around Soho!)

The Tough Extreme costs £65 and comes in Black/Charcoal, Emerald/Chartreuse, Green/Orange, and Lipstick Pink/Red.

case-mate.co.uk.

The Tuxedo, also from Case-Mate, is an ultra-slim, portfolio style case, which doubles as a stand with multiple viewing angles. It also has a built-in, reusable adhesive to keep your device secure. The interior is lined with an ultra-soft microfibre. The Tuxedo costs £35.

case-mate.co.uk.

Invisible-Shield

iPads whether mini or not are not cheap, so you’ll want to protect your device – how about an InvisibleSHIELD Screen Protector – £22.95 from www.mobilefun.co.uk/invisibleshield-screen-protector-ipad-mini-p36818.htm.

The makers claim it is the most durable gadget scratch protection film available. The film began life in the US military, where it was used to protect helicopter blades from wear and tear. This clear, urethane plastic offers self-healing qualities and unparalleled abrasion resistance, they say. Sounds more like a superhero than a screen protector – but then where else could you buy a superhero for less than 25 quid?

Griffin-iPad-Mini

If you want to keep the kids (or backseat drivers) entertained in the car, turn your iPad Mini into an in-car entertainment device with the CinemaSeat (£29.99). It has cutouts for easy access to screen, controls and ports. There are adjustable straps on the back, which wrap around a car seat headrest, which means the iPad mini is perfectly positioned for backseat riders to watch videos, listen to music or play games.

www.griffintechnology.com

Passport-WiseEyes

Griffin has also produced the Passport (£19.99), a one-piece folio design that opens like a book to reveal the iPad mini screen, and which is held shut by an elastic band closure. The passport features a soft microsuede interior to protect the iPad mini and comes in a range of designs including  black, blue, dark red, Wise Eyes (owls), and Varsity, inspired by the look of the classic varsity letter jacket (in blue). Passport features a porthole for the camera lens.

www.griffintechnology.com

Cygnett-iPad-Mini

Cygnett has launched a range of cases including the Workmate, with heavy-duty dualmaterial to offer a shock-absorbing case without adding any bulk to the tablet itself. The cases come in slate grey and red and cost £24.95.

QDOS-iPad-Mini-Case

Finally, for a classy leather look, go for the QDOS Libris folio cases for iPad Mini, available in red and black, with a leather finish and soft luxury suede lining to protect the iPad mini from bumps and knocks. It has a folding design and built-in stand, with a diary-style elastic strap to keep it safely closed when not in use.

The Libris cases cost £34.99 from www.qdossound.com