As we become more reliant on our tablets to do everything, keyboard cases will get more popular. New Trent’s Airbender Mini Keyboard Case is heavy duty a la Otterbox, while still being sleek and not clunky. This case offers some serious protection with its polycarbonate thermoplastic hardshell build. The keyboard is equally durable, while still being every easy to use, and the 360 degree rotational arm makes it very flexible.
Let’s look at the case first, and then we will consider how it integrates with the keyboard. The case is a polycarbonate thermoplastic hardshell with an overlay skin made of a black rubber material, so it is easy to grip. That is some high grade protection there against drops and bumps. The case has a hole in the back that the arm clips into, also allowing the shiny apple logo to show through. All ports are accessible but closed up for protection. The camera and speakers are left open for obvious reasons. A thin plastic screen protector interlocks with the case, so that keyboard marks from closing the case aren’t left on your screen. Putting this together is not easy, and taking it apart is also a task. It snaps in several places together, and then one must pull the exterior rubber soft shell over the hardshell, and adjust the button cover to fit in with the plastic screen protector. So if you aren’t interested in using this set up the majority of the time, then the in and out hassle might not be for you. Also, an exchange made for such protection is weight. It is substantially heavy when all put together.
The case meets the keyboard with an aluminum arm whose lower portion slides beneath the keyboard and can adjust to over a dozen length positions easily. The arm releases or grabs the case with an easy two finger pinch and clip. Once clipped in, their 360 degrees of horizontal rotational options, as well as a vertical 180 degree option. For a typical laptop like layout, there is a ridge that you can place the bottom of the case on. I found that to be mostly an odd angle so I liked to have it levitating just a bit and angled back a tad.
Once the case is positioned, flick the on switch, turn Bluetooth on your iPad mini, tap the connect button on the keyboard, and connect it on the iPad mini settings screen. That’s it! Everytime you turn the keyboard on it automatically connects. It is very easy. The typing layout of the keyboard is a QWERTY 59 key design with hot key access. It is obviously a tad more cumbersome than a regular size keyboard, but infinitely better than trying to type on the texture-less screen of the iPad Mini. The keys are a perfect size to type on with out accidentally hitting other keys. They aren’t rigid, but smooth and easy to press. However, figuring out where punctuation symbols like “, ( ), ?, etc.. are does take some time to get used to. You have to use the Fn button to access some of those. But with a little practice, efficient typing is easy as pie. The keyboard can take up to 5 or more hours of constant typing with out needing a recharge. The keyboard itself is very light and it’s .4″ height is perfect for a comfortable typing angle.
This is a fantastically designed case for its purpose. All put together and close up it weighs about 3 pounds and is about 1 1/4″ thick. It has a magnetic auto shut off, so you can just snap the case shut like a laptop, and clip in the latch. There is so much protection, variety of usability, and ease of use, that it is hard to believe this is only $39.95, especially when compared to other keyboard cases on the market, so it certainly seems like you are getting a good value.
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The Good: Comfortable keyboard, Easy to set up, many viewing options, Good price point.
The Bad: Heavy, difficult to take the iPad Mini in and out of Case, battery life could be a lot better.