Consumer Reports: The best keyboards for your tablet

January 30, 2012 7:12:53 AM PST
Sales of iPads topped $15 million over the Christmas holidays, more than double a year ago. If you've got a new iPad, there is no doubt you're finding it frustrating to type on its virtual keyboard. There are keyboards you can get, and Consumer Reports just tested five.

Stacy Geisinger uses her iPad to write a blog and send messages. But she often makes mistakes typing on the virtual keyboard.

"I have to start all over again or I'm backspacing constantly," she said. "You have to watch what you're doing."

To try to solve that problem, manufacturers are coming up with keyboards for the iPad. Consumer Reports tested ones costing $70 to $100.

"With the keyboards we tested, the keys aren't necessarily larger than those on a tablet's touch screen," Consumer Reports' Paul Reynolds said.

But they have real buttons you press down on to help you hit the right key.

"We found most of these keyboards have pros and cons," Reyolds said.

The Menotek keyboard is lightweight and can even be rolled up. But it's small, soft keys are hard to use and it's easy to make mistakes.

"The RocketFish and Belkin keyboards we tested have convenient tablet-specific buttons, like Home and Lock Screen," Reynolds said. "And they have shortcuts to do tasks like running a slideshow."

The RocketFish keyboard also serves as a case and a stand. But at more than 2 pounds, it's pretty heavy. And the Belkin case is so snug, it's hard to get even the thinner iPad 2 in and out of it.

A better option is the ZAGGfolio keyboard, for $100.

"It's not quite as snug a fit, and it has a versatile keyboard and handy iPad-specific buttons and shortcuts," Reynolds said.

But if you really want full-size keys, try Apple's Wireless Keyboard. At $70, it costs less than the others tested, but you'll need to pay extra for a stand and case.

Consumer Reports also tested keyboards for Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The $70 Logitech keyboard is a good choice. It's lightweight, has full-size keys, and customized tablet controls.

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