The iPad is a great multifunctional portable device, but those who do a lot of typing whether like us for blog posts, or working on documents for work or school you can soon start to find limitations or difficulties with the on screen touch keyboard.
We are fans of the touchscreen keyboard, we like the size of the keys, and the spacing and found that it is easy to get used to and build up typing speed on quite easily. However, for those looking for a more traditional typing experience, manufacturer Nuu has introduced a couple of Keyboard cases including the SoftKey.
Included in the packaging for the SoftKey is the synthetic leather case, with a built in rechargeable bluetooth keyboard.
Build and Features
The Nuu SoftKey iPad case is designed for iPad 2, but compatible with the new iPad. It is constructed from a high quality synthetic leather which has a nice soft feel, and comes in the colour Black. The material itself feels as though it would wear well in daily use, and we certainly would not worry about throwing it in a rucksack along with some other bits and pieces.The Keyboard part of the case is made from a spill-proof silicone type of material which has a very soft touch under the finger, but is spaced adequately for typing.
The front of the case features a small Nuu logo embossed on the front. We like that the branding is small, and not overpowering to the aesthetics of the case.
The case is designed in a folio style with the keyboard fixed to the inside of the flap that covers the screen when folded shut. The Nuu SoftKey also features a contrasting white coloured stitching which is another subtle addition to the styling of the case. The case has cutouts for the camera, dock connector as well as volume rocker and mute switch. The buttons and dock connector are easily accessible, but during our tests we found that the camera cutout was too small for the new iPad, no matter how well the iPad was positioned in the case. Due to the cutout issue of the camera, any photos taken whilst in the case will have dark edges and corners (as if you were holding your finger obstructing the camera). We were unable to test this with an iPad 2, but would assume due to the physical smaller size of the iPad 2 camera the case would not cause an obstruction.
The iPad is secured in the case with a synthetic leather border that the iPad slides behind, with velcro fixing the iPad in place. The velcro addition is welcomed as we felt the iPad once in the case was very secure.
The SoftKey keyboard is very soft to touch, and as previously mentioned the keys are spaced adequately for typing. We felt that the travel distance of the keys is sufficient to achieve an acceptable typing speed. Although Nuu advertise the SoftKey as having a full size keyboard, we feel the keys are slightly too small to make this statement. However, the addition of shortcut keys including one for reaching the home screen, as well as keys for adjusting volume were a great addition.
Pairing the keyboard was a simple procedure once the keyboard was turned on, the pair button on the keyboard allows the iPad to find it, and after typing in the given code on the iPad the keyboard was all set up and ready to go.
The SoftKey features a rechargeable battery which will give an estimated 90 hours of continuous usage, and has a standby time of over 30 days. Just above the function keys of the keyboard are LED light indicators showing charge and connection status. The keyboard charges via a standard Micro USB cable which is included in the box, although we were a little disappointed that no mains to USB adapter was included – as those looking at a keyboard case for iPad may well be using an iPad as a computer replacement, and therefore need to purchase a mains to USB adapter separately. This is by no means a deal-breaker however.
The case does not feel too heavy to carry, but with any case that features a keyboard we expect to pay the price in terms of weight. However, if a case with a keyboard is what you require, when using the iPad you will be at using it at a desk or table anyway – this is definitely not a case to use on your lap unless you have a talent for balancing things, and typing at an uncomfortable angle.
The Nuu SoftKey is available in just the one colour; Black. We would love to see an additional range of colours and perhaps some other materials. But, for the on the go user who requires a keyboard we are sure Black would be the most suitable colour.
The one feature the SoftKey does not have is the smart cover lock/unlock feature which automatically locks the iPad when the cover is closed. Although not as important on a case like this, we would have liked this feature to be included on a case in this higher-end price range.
|Build Quality||Camera Cutout|
|Choice of Materials||No Smart Cover Functionality|
|Soft Bluetooth Keyboard||No included mains to USB adapter|
|Weight & Size|
|Shortcut Keys on the Keyboard|
The Nuu SoftKey has a recommended retail price of £59.99. It is in a comparable price range of Apple’s very own Smart Cover in leather at £59 yet offers much more functionality.
The slim design of the keyboard allows for a slim case overall which is stylish in a black synthetic leather, yet whilst having a built in bluetooth keyboard it still feels relatively light in the hand. The estimated battery life of the device is stated at 90 hours, and although we didn’t test this aspect fully we believe that is a very realistic goal. The angle that the case holds the iPad is perfect for typing, whether its for notes, emails or even documents and the iPad feels secure once in place.
The keyboard itself is one of the most important aspects of the case, and whilst it is a small keyboard made from a silicon material with small keys, the keys themselves are well spaced, and comfortable to type on even after a long period. They feel very tactile under the finger, and touch typists should have no problem adapting to them in a matter of minutes.
The camera cutout disappoints as it is just too small to not obstruct photos when taking with the new iPad, and the lack of the smart sleep wake feature, and mains to USB adapter are minor annoyances.
Overall we feel that for those looking for a keyboard case for an iPad the Nuu SoftKey could be a great choice. With its slim, black leather design and spill resistant keyboard it could be perfect for those long train journeys allowing you to reply to emails, and type away with that all important coffee nearby.
The Nuu SoftKey iPad case is available from the Nuu website here.
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