Last year I wrote about converting my HP laptop to Linux Mint, after running Windows Vista and Windows 7 over the years. A few weeks ago the battery started showing signs of its age. Since I wasn’t doing anything on the laptop that I can’t do on my iPad, I figured this would be a good time to downsize the gadgetry a little bit.
There was a problem, however: Typing more than a couple of sentences with an onscreen keyboard is a bitch. Hell, even typing an alphanumeric password is annoying because you have to switch the keyboard mode, often several times (I use weird passwords).
A few months ago, I happened to notice an iPad keyboard, the ClamCase Pro, that looked pretty cool and was getting good reviews. So I hit the tech web sites again, looking for more recent reviews, and I didn’t see much in terms of negative comments – most of them seemed to be related to a problem located between the keyboard and the chair, while some others were of the “well, duh!” category – such as the keyboard roughly doubling the weight of the iPad. Most of the keyboard’s weight is actually a counterweight so that the iPad won’t tip over when it’s inclined. Note that I did run into a review where the reviewer mentioned that you cannot use it comfortably on your lap because it will tip over. I don’t know what that person’s situation was, but I’m typing this with the ClamCase Pro on my lap, with the iPad at a rather steep angle, and it doesn’t even feel like it wants to tip over.
Unlike many keyboards I’ve seen, the ClamCase Pro has a palmrest, which makes it more comfortable for prolonged use. The keys are very responsive, and I got used to the layout very quickly. It’s roughly like a standard Mac keyboard, with a few different keys. You can put the iPad in “tablet mode” by folding the keyboard all the way to the back (it’s also recommended to turn off the physical keyboard when you do that, to avoid pressing keys accidentally while holding it). It does make it kind of heavy to use for reading, however. Then again, if you’re going to read for a prolonged period, you can always take the iPad out of the enclosure.
After testing this setup for a few days, I determined that this would do just fine as a replacement for my laptop. Note that I’m not saying that a tablet can replace a laptop (and definitely not a desktop computer): I just wasn’t doing a whole lot with my laptop. I’d say the only annoyance is that some web sites just don’t work all that great on mobile browsers – yet.
I donated my laptop to a local technology charity named CompuCorps. I bought the laptop back in 2007 and didn’t expect to get much for it, so I’d rather have it go to someone who needs it. I’ll get a tax receipt for the donation, so that’s cool. 🙂
So, if you’re looking for a good physical keyboard for your iPad (2, 3, 4), the ClamCase Pro is a solid choice – and as a bonus, it looks pretty slick, not unlike a netbook or Chromebook. The manufacturer also just released a new version of the keyboard for the thinner iPad Air, which doesn’t seem to be widely available (at the time of writing).