Even the most hardened Applephobe would have to admit that the iPad has been a tablet sensation. For many people the iPad Mini makes even more sense; lighter, smaller and generally easier to have around on a daily basis, it’s an excellent piece of kit.
If you’re like me, however (and let’s hope you aren’t because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone), you’ll sigh wistfully at the lack of a real keyboard whenever you try to do anything more adventurous on your tablet than watching YouTube videos.
There’s nothing quite like the sensation of typing on real, physical keys instead of thumping your finger into the screen and for that reason I shelled out the princely sum of fifteen quid via Amazon (you can too, at http://amzn.to/WF8Eqh, for which we get a tiny commission) for a Case Guru bluetooth keyboard case for the iPad Mini.
As the name implies, it’s both leather-style case (I have no idea if it’s real leather. Doubt it, at the price) AND a tiny but real keyboard. With an internal 700 mAH battery promising 120 hours of continuous working time, and 130 days of standby time, it looked very promising.
When you first unpack the keyboard there’s not much to it; the keyboard, the case and a charging cable though you must supply your own 5V USB charger (any standard USB charger seems to do the trick for us). Give it four hours charging to get started and you’re ready.
After pairing the keyboard to the iPad – a simple enough process involving switching both items on, going into the iPad’s bluetooth settings and typing the 4-digit number it proffers into the keyboard – you’re ready to roll. Now, whenever you switch the keyboard on, the iPad’s on-screen keyboard will vanish and you’re typing on the Case Guru one.
To be fair, it is a very small keyboard but the iPad Mini is a very small tablet. Don’t expect to be all-finger touch typing on this thing; it’s more of a two-finger point and peck arrangement. The keys have decent travel though and indeed you must be sure to depress them fully else the keypress won’t be registered.
A selection of punctuation such as apostrophes and quotation marks are accessed via pressing both the blue “Fn” key at the bottom left of the keyboard as well as the appropriately-labelled other key. Also handily, across the top are numeric keys which also serve dual purpose in combination with “Fn”, so as to adjust the screen brightness or the loudspeaker volume and so on.
On the back of the case is a flip-out stand which is handy, as it enables you to prop the iPad up and type at it just as if it were a mini laptop. The only drawback of this arrangement is that the iPad sinks slightly in its fitting and you lose a millimetre or two of screen space behind the leather. That wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for full-screen applications such as the aforementioned YouTube putting some of their controls along the bottom of the screen. It necessitates one hand pushing the iPad back up a bit whilst the other prods at the hidden control.
Overall, I liked this case. It’s not costly, it does the job and although it turns the iPad from a svelte, lithe instrument into a bulky item reminiscent of a Filofax, it gives you exactly what you ordered.