Bluetooth keyboards are all the rage right now. Every company will swear they offer the thinnest and most compact, while others will say they have the most features that will benefit your particular OS and device. No matter what the claims, we all know that each keyboard will have it’s ups and downs. The main driver that I see is the function and convenience that a keyboard will have with an iPad or any other tablet. People are ditching their laptops in favor of the iPad and a nice keyboard. I am actually one of those people, I gave up my MacBook Air when the iPad 3 came out and have been on the hunt ever since for that perfect typing companion.
So far, ZAGG has me in their court, but the only issue with this keyboard is the fact that it’s quite scary to use while I sit on the light-rail commuting to and from work. It won’t fall out, but I still am not 100% sure it won’t take that tumble off my lap. So lately I’ve been on the hunt for a folio style case. I really haven’t been a fan of this style but I find that it is really what it’ll take for me to be a successful convert. So while Mike and I were running around the South Hall at CES last month we happened by a small booth that had a majority of different Bluetooth keyboards that caught our eyes. The reason they stood out to us because the keys on the keyboard didn’t stand out, ala Microsoft Surface Touch Keyboard.
The gentleman didn’t speak very good English, so there wasn’t a lot we could discuss but he did offer up a unit I could take with me for review. So since we got back I’ve been solely using the keyboard to see if, over time, it is something I can use moving forward.
The 2-Skinny is actually just that, it’s crazy skinny. The folio style case adds barely any bulk to the already super-thin iPad. It’s honestly the thinnest and lightest keyboard case I’ve held in my hands since my almost year long trek to finally replace my MacBook Air. The case is a crazy 7mm thin, and that is at it’s thickest point, add that to the 9.5mm thick iPad and you still have an insanely thin and lightweight keyboard case. The case itself is a matte (soft) finished hard shell case that actually seems to do a great job protecting my iPad. You have all of the standard cut-outs with this case, giving you easy access to every port and the camera. The keyboard snaps at a little snap in the center of the right edge of the iPad. This concerns me as it seems like an unnecessary piece that will break off over time, leaving the case unable to securely close. It didn’t break for me, but I’ve been taking special care of it to ensure it doesn’t. The neat feature about this case is that it isn’t necessarily like every other folio case, it features a Surface style kickstand built into the back of the case. I personally am not a fan of kickstands, but I actually like the way this one works.
You probably won’t believe this but I was actually able to use this on my lap. The kickstand extends just enough where it perfectly balances with the weight of the iPad sitting it just right on my legs. The keyboard portion is so lightweight that it won’t counter that iPad heft making it fall over. I was able to bounce my legs and have it not fall either forward or backward. The only issue with this is that since the case is the exact length of the iPad, I had to keep my legs pressed together, which wasn’t really natural for me, so prolonged use on the lap wasn’t something I can see happening with the 2-Skinny, which is unfortunate for me since that is what I’m looking for. The kickstand isn’t on any snap-back style hinge, so even though it’ll head back to it’s resting place, you’ll still have to snap it in. And while the kickstand is extended out, this does leave a decent sized chunk of the rear or the iPad exposed. It does seem to me that over time you might see the kickstand snapping off. It does have a little give if you push it to far, but it is something to keep in mind. The case does have a built in magnet to put the iPad to sleep or wake it up, but this is something we will almost call standard amongst iPad cases nowadays.
A nice feature is that the keyboard will fold back behind the iPad so you can actually enjoy the screen without having to take the case off. And because there are no actual keys, it’s quite comfortable to use. This case really gives the effect of a touch laptop where the screen would swivel, just half-made by Apple. You get all of the joys of iOS and the iPad, but you also get a very complimenting keyboard that is securely attached.
Now to what every keyboard case is really judged for, the keyboard itself. As I mentioned above, the case features Touch Technology. Hatch & Co. boasts being the first to introduce a Touch Technology keyboard with the first case they released on the market, the SKINNY. And now with their second attempt they step it up a notch to pack in backlit keys to give that gorgeous MacBook look when typing. I love backlit keys, and you’ll definitely need them when using this case, but I’ll get to that in a second.
The overall build of the keyboard is very sleek and compact. It’s nowhere near your standard sized keyboard, but with the Touch Technology and the fact that keys are so close together, you really do get a sexy looking keyboard. The keyboard layout is what you’d expect, but you do have some of the larger keys you might be used to, scrunched to fit. The apostrophe key is actually up next to the P which happens to be my biggest issue with this case. I probably use the ‘ key at least once every sentence and the fact that it isn’t where I know it should be, this causes a lot of line breaks because the ‘Enter’ key is to the right of the : key. After a month of using the case I have become more of a pro at this, but beware, it’ll require a huge learning curve, and I can see a lot of people giving this case up because of it. It is a driving factor for me not to really use this case for heavy typing but instead use it for the lighter social networking and emails.
You are given arrow keys to the right of the Space Bar, which do come in handy. Your top row features all the standard keys you’ll see on a keyboard, the Home (Multi-Tasking tray), a slideshow quick button, your music controls and volume keys. You’ll also get a quick key for the on-screen keyboard as well as a key to mute the annoying clicking sound you get with every touch of the keyboard, and to finish it off you have the backlit on/off key and the Bluetooth sync button. As far as that, you have the On/Off toggle on the side of the case and a little Bluetooth indicator light to let you know you are connected.
Typing on the keyboard is actually quite comfortable, the lip where you’ll rest your palms is just short enough where you won’t have the edge of the case jabbing you. But again, it is a compact keyboard and probably one of the smallest I’ve used, this will be an issue for anyone with larger hands. I did notice my typing speed dropped drastically while using this case. Because of the Touch Technology, I found myself hitting a key a couple extra times or it not even registering some touches. Add this to the fact that the apostrophe key isn’t in the normal spot, it took me a long time get used to typing on this keyboard. Even typing this review (which was done completely on this case) I found myself with many Backspace hits. It’s a joy to type on this case because of the slick Touch feature, but it is one of the biggest pains as well.
The backlit option is actually quite pleasant on the case. It’s not overly bright, or feature many colors. It’s a simple one setting that will light up the print on the key as well a the corn outline of each key. It’s this simple thing that makes it one of the best backlit attempts I have seen. And you’ll find this very helpful in your attempt to locate that dang apostrophe key.
Battery life was actually very impressive with this case, I charged it once and it’s still kicking. The website boasts a life of 68 days without backlit and 4 hours with it on, and I’ll tell you that it’s on it’s way of being true with backlit keys off. But like I mentioned above, you’ll want that on if you plan on typing in the dark because of that damned apostrophe key.
The 2-Skinny is quite a beautiful case. The matte finish black case is sturdy and well built and should offer some great protection to your iPad. The Touch keyboard is so sexy and a gives the added benefit of not having to worry bout crumbs and spills damaging the keys or anything inside. It’s extremely lightweight and insanely thin, which is a huge win when added to the somewhat heavy iPad. But for those of you that are heavy on the typing, whether you blog or just spend a crazy amount of time typing, this case isn’t for you. You will find productivity drop severely and you’ll find your time typing just down right annoying. But if you are the occasional Facebooker or Tweeter and only answer to a few emails a day, this case might be what you are looking for. Although, the $89.99 price tag might shy you away.
In the end, I can’t really recommend it to everyone, even though there were so many things I really liked about this case, I know that a majority of the people that will use it will be heavy on the typing, and you’ll probably want to kill me if you picked this up to do just that. But don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful, light, thin and serves a great purpose as a case, but the biggest downfall is actually typing.
More: Hatch & Co – 2-SKINNY