Last year I reviewed the original Kensington KeyFolio Pro case with integrated keyboard, and liked it so much I have been using it on a daily basis ever since. With a DaniWeb rating of 9 out of 10, there really wasn't much room for improvement. So when Kensington released the KeyFolio Pro 2 earlier this year I was dubious that it could actually be worth the upgrade. Having now spent some time hands-on with latest version of this must-have iPad peripheral for the jobbing journalist, writer or coder, I am happy to report that my cynicism was unfounded. Kensington have actually managed to pull off the unlikely task of making the best a whole lot better.
How so? Well, for starters, the keyboard itself is now fully detachable from the case itself. While this may not seem like any big deal on paper, as soon as you start to actually use it the reality of being able to position the keyboard away from the iPad screen really does make a discernible difference in day to day productivity. The simple fact that I can have the actual iPad screen anywhere on the desk I like, at any angle, is a real boon for getting rid of glare and finding a comfortable typing position. The ability to place the keyboard in a usable position no matter how cramped the available space is also a real boon, although the lightness of the thing is a little disconcerting at first you soon get used to it.
Removing the keyboard from the case itself is ridiculously easy as it is held in place by the use of four strong magnets. You simply slide it away from the magnetic attraction and pull the keyboard free. In use the magnets have proven to be a very stable method of fixing the keyboard in place, and I have not once felt like it was likely to fall out no matter how strenuous my typing became with the keyboard in-situ. Having praised the detachability of the thing, I will now shoot the whole detachability argument down in flames by admitting the KeyFolio Pro 2 is also a delight to use with keyboard attached! The case itself provides, as before, a solid platform for your typing but the viewing angles have improved over the old model. This may sound a little unlikely at first, given that the ability to swivel the screen into portrait mode has been removed and the screen now stays firmly in landscape mode. However, bear with me. The reason for the improvement is quite simply down to the tweaking of the way the iPad stand works.
Gone is the single slot for holding the iPad steady, which actually proved less than totally effective when the iPad was on your lap for example, and which didn't provide the greatest flexibility in viewing angles. This has been replaced by the simplest of design concepts: velcro. Yep, a strip of velcro at the base of the case where the bottom of the iPad screen sits can be attached anywhere to the felt lining the rest of the case. What this gives you in real world usage is a viewing angle range from 70 degrees to 20 degrees, and perhaps more importantly total vertical stability. There is no wobble, even on your lap, and because you have finite control over the viewing angle adjustment you can eradicate glare under most circumstances.
So, do I miss that portrait orientation of old? Well I admit that I was smitten by the portrait view of the KeyFolio case this one replaces, at first. Mainly because, as a writer, I liked the notion of having a full page on screen as I typed into a document using Pages on my iPad. The reality, over the last year or so, has been that I have used the portrait orientation for maybe 5% of the total time spent on the iPad with keyboard input. Truth be told, it's much easier to write copy in a landscape orientation as there is more usable 'page estate' on screen (unless you have the visual acuity of a bird of prey) for one thing, and as explained the iPad is now just a whole heck more stable than before.
The case itself 'feels' a lot better than it did before as well. The somewhat cheap feel of the old case has gone, replaced by a soft-touch yet scratch resistant synthetic leather one that in my humble opinion looks anything but cheap (and of course, it isn't!). While some may have hoped for real leather at this price point, being a vegan I'm eternally grateful that Kensington took the synthetic approach or I wouldn't have discovered the KeyFolio Pro range in the first place. While there is, of course, still the issue of adding weight and thickness to the iPad for some folk, I am not amongst them. Yes it pretty much doubles the weight of the iPad and triples the thickness, but put your tablet in any case and you are losing the svelteness of the naked device. Put it in one that provides tablet protection as well as an integrated keyboard and, honestly, if you are expecting it to be all but invisible then you are all but certifiably insane. Talking of which, an insanely useful little touch that the designers have added this time around is a small elastic tab to hold a pen or stylus inside the case. Attention to detail such as this is written all over this particular iPad case.
As for the keyboard itself, I refer you to my previous review as it remains just as responsive, just as solid, just as, well, professional as before. All the shortcut keys are still there, including the all important 'command' key. It is often, incorrectly, claimed that you cannot cut and paste using a keyboard on the iPad but you can. The familiar to PC users Ctrl C / Ctrl V keyboard shortcuts are there, just use the 'command' key instead of Ctrl. Oh, and the 100 hours or so of usage on a single battery charge remains. One thing that has improved, I have noticed, is the connectivity between the Bluetooth keyboard and the iPad. Previously I used to have to tap a few keys and wait a good few seconds before the iPad realised there was a keyboard attached and I could input anything on-screen. Now I tap a key and the response is instantaneous.
Yes, the KeyFolio Pro 2 is expensive at the retail price of $99.99 (and even more so in the UK where the price is £99.99) but a quick online search reveals that the street pricing of this is actually more in the region of $70 in the US and £50 in the UK, which brings it smack bang into good value territory considering you are investing in both a protective case and a professional quality keyboard in one. It's good for both the iPad 2 and the new third generation iPad and, in my never humble opinion, should be considered a must have purchase for anyone who spends a lot of time at the online keyboard preparing documents, entering code or even just replying to emails. It's so much easier to use, your productivity cannot help but increase. As such I have no hesitation in awarding the Kensington KeyFolio Pro 2 case a much coveted, and very rarely seen, 'perfect' 10/10 DaniWeb badge.