Typing on the iPad’s virtual keyboard has never really make me jump up and down with joy. In fact, I think it’s one of the most annoying things about the device and one that can keep you from doing any sort of serious work. As virtual keyboards go, it’s pretty good. But autocorrect, auto-capitalization, the lack of the tactile feedback of a physical keyboard and the slight lag in response time (even on the faster iPad 2) make me want to use it as little as possible.
That’s why I bought a ZAGGmate with keyboard for my first-generation iPad. The ZAGGmate is a Bluetooth keyboard that doubles as a case. It’s definitely a better typing experience than the iPad’s virtual keyboard, but it’s not a full-sized keyboard, it has relatively sharp metal edges which become uncomfortable over time and the price tag of $99 is a bit hefty.
The biggest problem, though, is that the original ZAGGmate only worked with the first-generation iPad. You can of course still use the keyboard with the iPad 2, but due to its slightly different form factor, the iPad 2 doesn’t fit in the original ZAGGmate (it’s too loose-fitting). So when I switched to the iPad 2 when it came out, I put my first-generation iPad up on Ebay along with the ZAGGmate, leaving me once again with the virtual keyboard of the iPad as my only option for text input. I surely wasn’t going to shell out another hundred bucks for the new ZAGGmate.
I wasn’t actively looking for a keyboard or case solution for the iPad, but the other day Dan Frakes tweeted his first impression of the Incase Origami Workstation. I checked the Origami out on Incase’s website and, immediately liking the overall idea and the price tag ($29.95), I ordered one. It arrived today and I can say Dan was spot-on: Incase really got it right.
Just a keyboard case?
At first glance the Origami WorkStation for iPad looks like a case for the Apple Wireless Keyboard. It’s made from a sort of rubbery material, which is reinforced by plastic boards. The keyboard snaps tightly into two plastic holding brackets and the cover flap is held closed by two velcro pads.
But what makes the Origami so cool, is that the case doubles as a stand for the iPad when opened. The creases on the cover flap aren’t just cosmetics. When you open the Origami, you can fold (hence the name) two triangular portions of the cover flap to the back and attach them to each other with the same velcro pads that otherwise holds the cover flap closed. Put the whole contraption on a table (or even your lap) and those flaps will support an iPad (both versions) in both horizontal or vertical mode and with most covers and cases. It’s incredibly simple, yet (or hence) absolutely ingenious.
While the Origami Workstation doesn’t give you a protective case for your iPad like the ZAGGmate does, it’s a lot less expensive, works with both current iPad versions and lets you use a full-sized Apple Wireless Keyboard. Sure, the keyboard itself costs another $70, which puts the whole solution on par with the ZAGGmate price-wise without giving you a case. But if you have an iPad 2 you’re pretty likely to have Apple’s own Smart Cover, so you don’t necessarily need an additional case. And the fact that the Origami will work with any Bluetooth device means you won’t have to be getting something else when you upgrade to the next iPad. Heck, you could even use it with an Android or WebOS tablet, if you were so inclined.
Overall I think the Origami Workstation is a very clever solution for a decent price. If you already own an Apple Wireless Keyboard, I suggest you take a really close look at the Origami before you shell out a hundred bucks or more for a dedicated iPad keyboard case that will probably not work with the next version of the iPad.
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