Case makers carefully design their products to fit, protect and add functionality for a single Apple product. Leather folios are meant to provide a stylish, safe haven for the iPad, with add-ons such as slots for business cards or maybe an elastic loop for a pen. Some incorporate silicon bluetooth keyboards of questionable quality. Instead of creating a folio with an inferior keyboard, i.Sound has built a folio specifically designed not only for the iPad, but for the official Apple bluetooth keyboard as well. If you own the iPad and keyboard and use them conjointly frequently, this folio could prove indispensable.
Read on for my full review.
The folio is made of soft, genuine leather. The seams are heavily stitched, not glued. The flap closure is secured by two large rectangular pieces of velcro, which is nice as some folios use zippers, magnets or snaps. The velcro decreases the chance of metal scratching the iPad, or magnetic interference .
The interior is similar to a soft-brushed suede, with three sturdy plastic brackets to hold the iPad in place. The brackets are so stiff, with no give, to maintain tension. To allow easy access to the dock connector, and to prevent blocking the iPad’s speakers, the bottom bracket is off-set to the left. There is no bracket for the top of the iPad, but I held the case upside down and attempted to jar the iPad loose through shaking and on a hard surface to simulate a drop. As the iPad is inserted into the brackets by sliding from the top, it can slip out from the top. But it would require extraordinary circumstances and the small pocket intended for cables would also likely stop the iPad’s slippage, if it ever, say, bounced down a flight of stairs end over end.
The cable pouch is connected with velcro squares and is detachable to ease insertion of the iPad. However, it is a bit small. It will hold a conservatively wound cable, but not the official iPad adapter. It could easily hold a stylus with room to spare. The slot for the keyboard is thoughtfully designed with a notch for easily grabbing the keyboard, and two flaps that protect the iPad from the thick, rolled edge of the keyboard. With the keyboard in place, the folio closes snugly, straining the velcro fasteners.
The i.Sound Keyboard folio is designed for two positions, the display and type views. The flaps bend backwards and the longer end with the keyboard storage slips under a leather lip in the exterior of the case, with a rectangular section of the case forming a base. An elastic band with a velcro square attaches to the closure velcro to hold the flaps in place. The manual instructions were lacking, but it didn’t take long to ascertain Tab A fit into Slot B. The typing angle was comfortable for use on one’s lap or table top. The display view angle was nearly perpindicular to the resting surface for optimal viewing at arm’s length. Closer and it isn’t as comfortable. Unlike other folios, this case does not have notches available for multiple angles, or portfolio display. The notches are less aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion, so the purchaser would have to determine their preference for form over function.
The i.Sound Keyboard Portfolio is available in black, brown and red and retails for the MSRP of $79.99 USD, but could be currently be purchased for $52.99 with free shipping from Amazon. Folios of questionable “leather” start as low as $9.95 USD on Amazon, but a case of comparable quality, such as the Griffin Elan Passport, can be purchased on Amazon for $24.17 USD. Other leather folios incorporating bluetooth keyboards ranged from $43-$79.99 USD. In my research of comparable products, I could not find a single folio that was designed to accommodate the Apple keyboard. The question becomes how much is this unique design feature worth? Given the flexibilty the case offers in being able to bring along a keyboard or leave it behind, and the quality of the build, it seems a fair to good value. As a niche product for those who own the Apple keyboard, it is a very good to excellent value.
Fans of Apple products who prefer the official keyboard will find the i.Sound Keyboard Portfolio to be thoughfully designed and elegant. It seats the keyboard and iPad securely, offering protection from dirt, dust, and reasonable shocks and bumps. The viewing angles are limited but adequate for creating a mobile workstation and the pocket affords the option of leaving the keyboard behind when not needed. It may seem expensive for a leather folio, with cheaper, less functional alternatives available, but represents a very good and unique value for owners of the official Apple keyboard.