What are the best tablet keyboards for mobile publishing?
Tablets are fast becoming must-have devices, but what happens when you are out and need to type things fast? A tablet keyboard is a convenient solution. However, there are different keyboards for the myriad of tablets available. Here’s a review of the best tablet keyboards for iOS, Android and Windows devices and what to consider when buying one.
Best Tablet Keyboards 2017 – Top Brands
Tablet Keyboards – Buying Criteria
Tablet keyboards have cases which allow you to stand the tablet comfortably while typing. These can be fixed or movable. The movable ones allow you to adjust viewing angles to fit your preferences. Fixed cases are not adjustable, so you have to live with the viewing angle it offers you from the box.
Tablet keyboards are either designed like laptop keyboards (sturdy plastic, rigid feel) or with silicone which is flexible. Each has its own merits and demerits, and picking one based on this factor would depend on typing preference:
- laptop-styled solutions are comfortable to type with
- safety/durability solutions made of silicone are resistant to dust, liquid spills, and are easier to clean.
Detachable or Non-detachable
This is closely related with viewing angles. Keyboards with detachable cases give you more flexibility, but are less sturdy than non-detachable ones and are prone to bouncing around the working space. Choosing one with rigid base can solve this.
Cases have two design styles: folio and hard shell. Folio cases protect the back and screen of tablets + wide viewing angles but are heavier, while hard shell cases protect just the screen but are lighter.
Most tablet keyboards have less spaces between their keys than standard keyboards. Choose one whose keys are not so tightly spaced that they cause two keys to be pressed at once.
Mode of Connection
Tablets can be connected to keyboards either by docking or via Bluetooth. First ones get their power source from the keyboard. While Bluetooth keyboards come with their own batteries (replaceable or rechargeable via USB), they still cause the tablet to lose some power due to the Bluetooth connection.
These might not affect the overall decision when choosing the best tablet keyboard, but some of the latest products, especially those produced in 2016 have extra features like USB ports and special function keys (toggle Wifi, brightness).
1. Best Tablet Keyboards for Apple Devices
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard
It can be used as a cover and stand for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The keyboard itself is not detachable from the whole setup (Keyboard + case), hence the viewing angles are not adjustable.
Though not made from silicone, the Apple Smart Keyboard is easy to clean and mildly resistant to spills and dust. It sports a hard shell case design which contributes to its light weight (225g).
The keys are not adequately spaced and are difficult to type with at first. Typing becomes easier with practice, though. It uses the Smart Connector on the iPad Pro to transfer data, which works great for battery life.
Brydge 9.7 Tablet Keyboard
The Brydge 9.7 can be used with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the iPad Air. Unlike the Apple Smart Keyboard, it comes with a hinge that gives you 180-degree viewing angle flexibility. Made of aluminium, the Brydge 9.7 is sturdy but prone to scratches.
The case has a hard shell design that doesn’t protect the back panel from scratches, but shields the screen.
The Brydge 9.7 has excellent key spacing, and the key travel distance is similar to what you would find on a laptop. It comes with Bluetooth 3.0 for connection, and has special keys like search and media control keys. The keys are backlit with three brightness levels.
2. Tablet Keyboards for Microsoft Devices
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Type Cover
This keyboard is compatible with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pro 3 tablets. Its viewing angles aren’t adjustable, but the fixed one is great nonetheless.
The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover is detachable since it uses hard shell case design, but is only usable when attached to the tablet since it uses the docking interface for connection.
The keys are adequately spaced and typing experience on the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover is excellent. The two-button glass trackpad and optional fingerprint scanner make it more attractive. The only problem I have with it is its price, considering that the Surface Pro tablets are almost useless without it.
Microsoft Surface Touch Cover Keyboard
It is compatible with the Microsoft Surface tablet, and connects, works and offers the same viewing angles as the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover.
The keys, however, are poorly spaced, and typing experience is horrible compared to other tablet keyboards.
On the bright side, it retains the Windows key which is absent on the Surface Pro 4 Type cover. As a conclusion, you would be better off using the newer Surface Pro 4 Type Cover.
3. Best Samsung Tablet Keyboards
Samsung Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio S310
Made by Logitech, the Folio S310 can be used with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 it uses a magnetic system to attach to the tablet; hence, it can’t be moved to adjust the viewing angles.
The Folio S310 itself can’t be detached from the entire case, but the key spacing is excellent and typing experience is similar to a laptop’s keyboard, due to its sturdy design.
Unlike the above tablet keyboards, the Logitech S310 uses the folio case design which protects the both sides of the tablet. It uses Bluetooth to transfer data, and comes with a battery that can be recharged via a USB port.
Samsung ProCase Galaxy Tab Cover Keyboard
The ProCase uses a hinge design which makes its horizontal viewing angles totally adjustable. It’s designed with leather which makes it easy to clean of solid dirt. It however absorbs liquid spills and might get old over a short time if not handled properly.
It has a folio case design which ensures that the screen and exterior of the tablet are protected from scratch and stain. The keys are adequately spaced and typing experience is fair. The keyboard connects to the tablet via Bluetooth.
It’s compatible with Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 and 9.7. As a conclusion, it is a great choice for the device it’s meant for, but needs proper maintenance to last long.
4. Best Tablet Keyboards for Google Gadgets
Google Pixel C Keyboard
As you probably would have guessed, this keyboard is compatible with the Google Pixel C tablet. The viewing angles are fixed, but it’s between 100 and 135 degrees and should be okay for a lot of people.
Made of aluminum, the Pixel C keyboard is easy to clean but collects scratches. It sports a hard shell design, protecting just the screen.
Talking about key spacing, what else would you expect of a Google keyboard, especially for a tablet as large as the Pixel C? The keys are adequately spaced and typing experience is good. Connection to the tablet is done via the docking interface. The Pixel C tablet keyboard works best for what it’s primarily made for, which is typing.
Google Nexus 9 Keyboard
This is compatible with the Google Nexus 9 tablet made by HTC. It has a hinge design which gives you wide viewing angles on the horizontal axis.
Typical of folio cases, the Nexus 9 keyboard is made with leather which feels nice but has to be maintained properly to last long. The case’s folio design protects the outer and inner parts of the tablet from external elements.
The keys do not have much space between them, but it’s relatively easy to type with. Connection is made over Bluetooth, and the tablet has a micro-USB port for charging its li-ion battery. One downside is that the price is high when compared to similar tablet keyboards.
5. Best Sony Tablet Keyboards
Bluetooth Keyboard BKB50 for Sony Xperia Z4.
It is compatible with the 10.1-inch Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet and has a tablet dock which is not adjustable. Hence, it has a fixed viewing angle.
The BKB50 is capable of connecting to the tablet both via Bluetooth and the docking interface, meaning you can use it while attached or detached from the tablet.
The keys are ergonomically designed to give users a laptop-style typing experience. It packs a 400mAh battery which lasts up to 6 months on a daily usage of two hours. It also has a micro-USB Port for charging the battery, and has a touchpad. The only issue I have here is the fixed viewing angle design.
6. Amazon Tablet Keyboard
Amazon Fire Keyboard
This is one versatile keyboard; it’s compatible with all Amazon Kindle Fire tablets. It allows you to switch between landscape and portrait orientation. The case can be attached and detached to and from the Origami Case for Kindle Fire tablets, which provides great mobility.
The pattern of spacing between the keys is great, but the travel distance of the keys is shallow to allow the keyboard to be as slim as it is. It comes with version 3.0 of Bluetooth technology for connection, and features a trackpad and special function keys not seen on other tablet keyboards. One major selling point of the Amazon Fire Keyboard is that it can be used with a wide range of tablets, including the Amazon Fire TV.
7. Best Universal Tablet Keyboards
Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard
Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard
It has an excellent hinge design which offers wide viewing angles. It’s made with aluminium and has a sturdy design. As you would expect of a universal tablet keyboard, the Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile can be used while detached from the tablet. The key spacing is excellent, likewise the typing experience.
It’s easy to guess from the name that it connects to tablets via Bluetooth. It features a full suite of normal keys and special function keys. The Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile keyboard is compatible with all Windows, Android and iOS tablets.
ZAGGKeys Universal Compact Ergonomic Keyboard
This is also compatible with Android, iOS and Windows tablets and is one of the most popular universal tablet keyboards. It sports a hinge design which avails you of wide viewing angles. It comes with a detachable base which means the tablet can be placed anywhere while typing.
One demerit of this product is that its keys are not adequately spaced. and users have encountered stuck keys during typing. Like most keyboards, it connects via Bluetooth and has a button to switch between tablet types.
The fact that the ZAGGKeys Universal Compact Ergonomic is universal is one major selling point, but the typing experience isn’t that great.
Best Tablet Keyboards 2017 – Overall Conclusion
There are a lot of things to be considered while choosing a keyboard for your tablet, but the end choice depends on your personal needs and preferences.
It will be interesting to see how technology will change over the next years. We have seen reports of virtual laser or paper keyboards. There might be solutions using wearables sensors as a text input option for tablets. I also like various roll-out concepts to make mobile keyboards as small and light-weight as possible.
What ever will happen, with the reviews above, I hope I have been able to provide you with a guide on choosing the best tablet keyboard. If you have further questions, please contact me using the comment section below or simply use the contact email form.