It has certainly taken long enough, but the iPad accessory market is now swarming with iPad keyboard cases that essentially transform the iPad into a full fledged netbook of a sort. Amongst the variations that have been showing up is a leather case with a silicon keyboard. Our advice is to stay far away from that case since its keyboard is down right mushy. Check out Engadget’s review to see what we’re talking about. On the other hand, PADAC’s Rubata Keyboard might be just what we’ve all been waiting for. This leather case sports a bluetooth keyboard that is true to a real netbook/laptop in style with its hard plastic keys.
The PADACS Rubata keyboard is made of 100% leather and isn’t exactly the most exciting case in terms of looks, but it has got that classic, fits-in-anywhere look going for it. The case adds 1.3lbs to your iPad in weight, and it’s thicker than most other iPad cases, but thats the sacrifice you make for the convenience of having a case and keyboard added to your iPad. The design of the case also lets the iPad stand up which is of-course convenient for watching videos.
The PADACS Rubata Keyboard comes with a micro-usb cable for charging. Firs things first, you’ll need to slip your iPad into the case and secure it with the case’s velcro tab, and then you’ll need to charge the keyboard for a while. Next you’ll need to turn the Rubata keyboard on using the somewhat flimsy power button located on the right side of the keyboard. Once you switch the power on, a power indicator light located on the top right of the keyboard will go on for a few seconds. Then, once you’ve charged the keyboard, you need to switch bluetooth to on, on your iPad. Finally, you’ll need to turn on the bluetooth feature on the Rubata Keyboard too. This is where things get messy. The Rubata’s blueotooth button is very hard to press in. I actually needed to use a paper clip to push it in. This is quite inconvenient because if you don’t have a sharp item like a paper clip handy, you’ll literally be hard-pressed to get the devices to pair with each other. Anyway, once bluetooth is turned on, both the iPad and the keyboard do pair very easily with one another.
The first Rubata Keyboard case that we received had three keyboard keys that didn’t work. Fortunately, PADACS replaced it right away. The keyboard itself is a hard plastic shell keyboard. Overall the keyboard is pretty comfortable to use with good tactile feedback. That said, it is a bit cramped, but not more so than your average netbook keyboard. The top row of the keyboard has controls for home, to bring up the iPad’s onscreen keyboard, search, select all, copy, cut, paste, iPod, volume and lock, there is also a set of iPod media control buttons for play/pause, skip forward and back, volume decrease and volume increase, and there is also a dedicated key for bringing up a photo slideshow. There is also one key on the keyboard that is labeled with a globe icon, but we cant figure out what shortcut it’s for because it doesn’t seem to work on iOS 4.2. Overall, these are all very convenient dedicated shortcut keys to have! In particular, we found that having dedicated shortcut keys for copy an paste is super useful while you’re typing. However, our major significant gripe with the design of the Rubata keyboard is that the leather flap in front of the keyboard tends to pop up a bit under your wrist while you are typing and this can get a bit uncomfortable, but overall this is mostly a minor issue. Also, there isn’t really any space between the keyboard and the iPad when you’re typing.
With its hard shell keys, PADAC’s Rubata keyboard is definitely one of the superior iPad keyboard cases out there. This smart case not only offers protection for your iPad, but it also brings your iPad one step closer to being an ultraportable laptop / netbook. The Rubata keyboard is not going to be as comfortable as using a regular full sized bluetooth keyboard, but it’s still very comfortable to type on considering this is a compromise made for traveling and on the go. The Rubata case also boasts a nice long 72 hour battery life, but we haven’t yet gotten a chance to test it that claim yet. PADACS Rubata case retails for $99.95 with a 1 year warranty.
The Good: Makes your iPad one step closer to being a netbook. It’s a keyboard and case all-in-one! Keyboard is comfy and much better than some of the other iPad Case keyboards floating around out there with silicon keyboards. Long battery life.
The Bad: Bluetooth button is tiny and difficult to turn on – you’ll need to use a paperclip. Front flap protrudes under your wrists while typing. Adds significant weight to your iPad.