There are several problems to solve when designing a keyboard case. How do you make small keys easy to type on? How do you keep the weight manageable? How are you going to keep the iPad upright? The Adonit Writer case takes an elegant and simple approach to these problems, producing one of the best-looking and most desirable iPad 2 keyboard cases around.
From a quick glance at its front, the Adonit Writer looks a lot like Apple's official Smart Cover. Its front feels very similar too, with a soft almost felt-like finish.
Open it up, however, and the similarity fades away. It's a full folio-style case with an integrated, non-removable keyboard. The iPad 2 slots into the plastic surround of the back flap, removing the need for the big leather/pleather surround you see in most folio-style cases.
NOTE: Keyboard not in typing position in this shot
The Adonit tries its best to keep things looking simple, which is why is also has no front clasp. It uses magnets embedded within the front flap to keep the case together when not in use.
Its keyboard is only half the depth of an iPad 2, when in landscape orientation, and locks into the plastic framework that holds the tablet. Although this means the keyboard fairly small, is allows for an ingenious stand mechanism. There are no poppers or clasps - the bottom of the keyboard module sticks onto the magnets in the front flap, keeping the iPad and keyboard at a laptop-style angle.
The worry when employing magnets in this fashion is that the attraction will not be strong enough, resulting in an unreliable stand mechanism. However, here it's easily powerful enough, and simple to set in place.
The keyboard connects to your iPad 2 over Bluetooth, the easiest method for non-Apple accessories to link-in with the tablet as iOS doesn't let them handshake using the dock port. This requires power, supplied by the AAA batteries that slot into the circular hinge of the keyboard module. None are included, however, and we'd have preferred an inbuilt li-on jobbie - although some of you will no-doubt vehemently disagree.
What the Adonit Writer can boast over many alternatives is great build quality. The keyboard surround is anodised aluminium, similar to the back of an iPad 2, and the keys have a similarly high-end feel. Their action is sharp and definite, like those of a good laptop. However, there are problems. Typing feels cramped, not helped by the lack of significant key contouring - without a chiclet style, the gaps between keys are very small - and that there's an inch gap between the keyboard and the end of the case.
Mis-typed words will naturally recede with use, but the discomfort of having to type with your hands a little too close together won't. Adonit has addressed these problems in the Writer Plus, which uses a removable chiclet keyboard that's slightly wider. However, that model is not yet available in the UK.
If you can hold off, we'd recommend waiting for that model to arrive. But if you need an iPad keyboard case now, you can do a lot worse than this well-made, cleverly-designed entry from Adonit.
With a clever, minimal design, the Adonit Writer Bluetooth keyboard case for iPad 2 almost looks as though it could have sprung from Apple's design studio. Its clever use of magnets cuts down on the bulk often introduced when cramming a keyboard into a case. The typing experience is a little cramped thanks to the dinky non-chiclet keys, but there's a lot to like about the design.