That is, until you need to type anything beyond a couple of paragraphs, and then those wireless Bluetooth keyboards start to look pretty handy, and all of a sudden we’re back to the last century in a post-PC era. Here are two ways to type more, one not so easy but free, one easy but not free.
Talk With Your Fingers
Way back in the day, business executives used to dictate their reports and correspondence into a voice recorder, and then handed the tape to a secretary to be transcribed.
Today, the iPhone and iPad come with a built-in dictation system. Almost any app that uses the on-screen keyboard also lets you dictate what you’d type, and Apple handles the transcription in the background.
Does it work? Yes. And no. It’s fine for a line or two, but speaking entire paragraphs instead of typing paragraphs changes how we typically and fundamentally communicate with our fingers through the keyboard.
Admittedly, the dictation system in iOS works well, but I found it cumbersome to speak what I thought I wanted to say, only to find out I needed to change it once I could read what I said.
You got that, right?
That gets me to keyboards for the iPad. Add a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to an iPad and what do you get? Nearly the expense of an entry-level MacBook Air, but a device with less power and capability that weighs about the same.
So, why bother?
First, the iPad has plenty of apps and convenience that is lacking in a MacBook Air running OS X, all of Apple’s apps, and business class third party apps. Yes, the Mac is powerful, but it’s less convenient and less mobile than an iPad stuck inside a neoprene zippered case.
Second, iPad users have plenty of keyboard options, and some of them are as good as the Mac’s keyboards, including Apple’s own wireless Bluetooth keyboard; a relative bargain at $69, and it works great with the iPad.
After trying out almost a dozen different keyboards for the iPad, I settled on Logitech’s new Keys-To-Go wireless Bluetooth keyboard, priced the same as Apple’s aluminum wireless keyboard (pictured above). It’s a bit smaller, much thinner, but unlike the battery powered Apple wireless keyboard, requires a USB charge every now and then.
Keys-To-Go looks and feels a bit like a smaller Microsoft Surface Pro keyboard. It’s thin, flat, and keys are completely covered in a durable cover called FabricSkin which resists dirt, dust, and spills.
Here’s the deal maker.
Keys-To-Go is amazingly thin and light yet it has a keyboard feel that rivals Apple’s aluminum wireless keyboard. It’s not the same, but it’s good. Very good. And the thinness allows me to put the Keys-To-Go keyboard into the same neoprene case I use for my iPad Air 2. That gives me the tablet I need when I need it with nothing else to worry about except the case. And it gives me a very decent keyboard when I need it (I use Apple’s thin leather iPad Air smart cover case).
There are times when I travel that I’m torn between taking the iPad vs. taking the MacBook Air. Sometimes, but increasingly less often, I take both. More frequently the Mac stays at home or in the office because so much of what I would need to do on the road can be handled by the iPad.
Still, Apple has managed to get me to buy more devices when just a few years ago one would do.