iPad Keyboard DockIf you're planning on using Pages on your iPad, or even just typing a lot of messages on Facebook or Twitter, you're going to get frustrated with the iPad's virtual keyboard and want, nay demand, an external physical alternative. It's not that the virtual keyboard isn't very good, just that it's awkward to hold an iPad, or prop up against a leg, while also trying to type lots of text. Plus the virtual keyboard takes up a significant portion of the screen, which isn't ideal considering its relatively low resolution.
Apple's iPad Keyboard Dock elegantly solves both the issue of the virtual keyboard being imperfect, and the need to prop up the iPad when typing on it by combining a physical keyboard with a docking station.
At £55, it's £30 more expensive than the official iPad Dock, but almost the same price as the cost of a dock and the official Apple Keyboard and £1 less than Apple's own wireless keyboard. In other words, it's not overly expensive for an Apple product, but it is still about £15 too much to be instantly tempting.
The good news is that the keyboard is great to type on. It's not really any different to Apple's other keyboards, with a positive key action, and a nice 'clicky' sound and feel which we happen to like - your mileage may vary. We would have preferred the keyboard to be raised a little higher, but it's not a massive issue.
The iPad-customised array of function keys across the top of the keyboard is interesting, especially as the centre key is blank and serves no discernible purpose. The rest vary in usefulness from very in the case of the iPod controls and lock screen, to not particularly, in the case of the virtual keyboard key, which simply toggles display of the on-screen keyboard - this is literally pointless.
The dock part of the iPad Keyboard Dock works as advertised, holding your iPad at a good angle for use when typing. we're really not keen on the way the iPad simply rests leaning back against a plastic support. It's fine until you pull the iPad towards you, at which point the dock connector is all that's holding it in place. Some forwards restraint should have been added. This is the only criticism the built quality warrants, though.
Niggles aside the iPad Keyboard is only really at fault for its high price. It's much better to type on than the virtual keyboard and the dock makes a nice resting place for your iPad when not in use, too.