or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPad › Review: Belkin's FastFit Keyboard Case for iPad Mini
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Review: Belkin's FastFit Keyboard Case for iPad Mini

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
Belkin's FastFit Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Case is well crafted and nicely designed, but can a QWERTY keyboard made to fit within the iPad mini's diminutive form factor be truly useful?

Belkin FastFit


Built to be beautiful



Unlike other keyboards, the Belkin FastFit uses premium materials. The back cover is made of aluminum painted to match the iPad mini's silver back, while the top case is finished in a black matte. Inside, the black, slightly textured chiclet keys sit in an almost edge-to-edge layout.

Belkin FastFit


The hinge is a single piece of aluminum containing magnets to attach to the iPad mini. In our opinion, this hinge is as good or better than the Apple SmartCover three-piece hinge. The keyboard has three rubber pads which protect the screen when used as a case. The case also has internal magnets situated beneath the keys that trigger the sleep wake behavior of the iPad mini.

Belkin intends the FastFit to act as a screen protector when closed, much like a fatter, rigid version of the SmartCover. When a user needs to type, the iPad can be detached and inserted into a slot at the top of the keyboard, where it will rest at an ideal viewing angle.

Belkin FastFit


A micro USB port is used to charge the internal battery, but the provided cable confusingly has a protective cap over the large USB A connector and not one over the more fragile micro USB plug.

Delightfully so



The packaging is simple, easy to open, and comes with an illustrated instructions card with the word "enjoy" printed on its reverse side. There?s something quite pleasant about removing the keyboard and being told "enjoy."

But how's it work?



All of the features described above are good, but Belkin simply can't overcome the one problem inherent in designing a keyboard for the iPad mini: size.

Belkin FastFit


With key pitch, size and placement all substantially smaller than a normal-sized keyboard, it is nearly impossible to touch type on the FastFit without error. Autocorrect helps a lot, but even with the aid of software, the number of mistakes is pretty large.

Due to the cramped layout, it is really easy to hit extra keys or to miss and hit near-neighbor keys, such as K instead of L. For example, we kept hitting the PAIR key when we intended to hit Delete.

We were able to type correctly if we adopted a non-touch type position. Two or three finger pecking seems to work with fewer errors. This can?t be what Belkin intends because the F and J keys have small raised underscores to help touch typists find them.

Belkin FastFit


Belkin advertises the keyboard as having:
  • Well-Spaced, TruType Comfortable Keys
    Function-specific keys for copying and pasting text, moderating volume and controlling music
  • Built-in stand accommodates the iPad mini in both portrait and landscape modes
  • Up to 3 months of battery life when on stand-by
  • Durable anodized aluminum construction makes it lightweight and protects from scratches and scuffs
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
  • Pairs with iPad through Bluetooth
  • Sleek design to minimize bulk

And we cannot disagree with most of these. The battery is long-lived. The keys do have spaces between them and feature great shortcuts like Siri/dictation. They are comfortable to type on, but we still take issue with the meaning of TruType in that our error rate while typing was quite high.

We typed almost 750 words and had 46 errors, compared to almost none with a full size keyboard.

Belkin FastFit


Conclusion



While it?s a beautiful keyboard, and well-made in every respect, we cannot recommend the FastFit for iPad mini to all comers. It reminds us of netbooks and their cramped keyboards. In 2009, when netbooks were a successful category due to their inexpensive price, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said, ?We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA won't let us ship that.? He also said, ?They're slow, they have low quality displays and they run clunky old PC software. They're not better than a laptop at anything, they're just cheaper: they're just cheap laptops.?

Using this beautiful-to-touch keyboard is a clunky experience. The FastFit is gorgeous to have as a screen cover, but its functionality as a keyboard is, for us, relegated to short messages and email. For serious writing we would have to recommend a separate cover and full size wireless keyboard.

Belkin FastFit


However, for those who want a nice looking cover that can double as a stand-in keyboard for the odd email or note, the Belkin FastFit Keyboard Case for iPad mini may be a good fit. Amazon is currently selling the FastFit for $79.99 with free shipping .

Score: 2.5



ratings_hl_25.png

Pros:


  • Premium materials
  • Excellent hinge, magnets, and wake sleep magnet
  • Long-lasting battery

Cons:


  • Reduced size to match iPad mini is difficult to type on.
post #2 of 35
A keyboard case on an iPad mini is overkill. If you need a keyboard case then you got the wrong iPad. I just sold my iPad 4 yesterday in prep for the iPad 5 :-)
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #3 of 35
I was lucky to pick up an open box (so discounted) Logitech Bluetooth Easy-Switch K811 (full size!) keyboard in John Lewis, here in the UK. It is the most well conceived peripheral I have ever bought in my life, although pricey herein the UK, but better value in the US as usual! Superb key feel (not chicklet), backlit and most importantly, works with up to THREE devices at the same time, just press the function keys (1-3) to switch between your devices, in my case an iPad mini and two Android handsets, although it is primarily designed for Apple gear, hence the key legends.

I have spent ages trying all combinations of cases, keyboards, covers what not for my tablets, and the best more ergonomic productive solution is a FULL SIZE keyboard, a separate tablet/phone dock such as the heavy but versatile Stump and a grippy gel rear case for the tablet, no fancy stuff. Bung it all in your bag, and when you want to work away from desk, set it all up in about 30 seconds and you're good to go!
post #4 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

A keyboard case on an iPad mini is overkill. If you need a keyboard case then you got the wrong iPad. I just sold my iPad 4 yesterday in prep for the iPad 5 :-)

Oh dear. What happens when the new iPad5 is months away? I once sold my iPhone and then it turned out the new version wasn't available in my country for the next 5 weeks. THAT was an annoying long wait!
Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
Reply
Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
Reply
post #5 of 35
IBM made a laptop with a fold out keyboard back in 1995. I remember it being quite impressive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_ThinkPad_Butterfly_keyboard I think one like that could be a workable solution for iPad mini as long as it wasn't too bulky. Personally, i use (and love) Apples bluetooth keyboard.
post #6 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


Oh dear. What happens when the new iPad5 is months away? I once sold my iPhone and then it turned out the new version wasn't available in my country for the next 5 weeks. THAT was an annoying long wait!

 

October.

 

I'll make do with my mid-2013 Air with 15 hours battery life.

 

Perhaps now I'll actually go to sleep when I get into bed ;-)

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubston View Post

IBM made a laptop with a fold out keyboard back in 1995. I remember it being quite impressive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_ThinkPad_Butterfly_keyboard I think one like that could be a workable solution for iPad mini as long as it wasn't too bulky. Personally, i use (and love) Apples bluetooth keyboard.

 

Yuck! It's way to bulky.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubston View Post

IBM made a laptop with a fold out keyboard back in 1995. I remember it being quite impressive. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_ThinkPad_Butterfly_keyboard I think one like that could be a workable solution for iPad mini as long as it wasn't too bulky. Personally, i use (and love) Apples bluetooth keyboard.

The 701 / 701C / 701CS was a cult classic. I own two of them. People loved them so much that there was an aftermarket service that would de-solder the CPU from the motherboard and upgrade it to a Pentium class machine from the 486DX/75 that IBM shipped it with, although mine never received that upgrade.

 

If there were a way to modernize it, I'd be tempted, just for the keyboard and physical size - but too much would be required to make it work: 10.4 LCD update, mounting a new motherboard, drive, new charge circuit, new batteries, wiring up the old keyboard and trackpoint to a new motherboard's interface, knowing that the keyboard predates USB... Not impossible, but clearly a challenge, and one I'm not strongly motivated to do in the world of iPad and MacBook Air.

"Tipping the scale at a mere 4.5 pounds**, the featherweight ThinkPad 701C and 701CS notebooks..." - 

means it would weigh too much to be of any real advantage. But it's absolutely a sign of how far we've come at reducing size and weight.


Edited by vmarks - 8/18/13 at 6:54am
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

A keyboard case on an iPad mini is overkill. If you need a keyboard case then you got the wrong iPad.

Why? Because YOU say it's so?

Not everyone has the same needs as you. I could easily picture a use for an iPad Mini with keyboard.

In fact, I fully expect that at some point, Apple will offer an iPad Pro which has a physical keyboard but is otherwise an iPad. If they do that, it would probably be 10" at first, but there's no reason they couldn't exend it to 8", as well.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #10 of 35
Were the number of mistakes more than using Logitech's keyboard for the iPad mini?
post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

A keyboard case on an iPad mini is overkill. If you need a keyboard case then you got the wrong iPad. I just sold my iPad 4 yesterday in prep for the iPad 5 :-)
Keyboard still can be useful, iPad 5(g) can still be not available till November, waiting till mid September would have been more decent.
post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post

Keyboard still can be useful, iPad 5(g) can still be not available till November, waiting till mid September would have been more decent.

Especially since iPads retain their value so well. Even after the new one is announced, the price of the old ones doesn't drop much.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

A keyboard case on an iPad mini is overkill. If you need a keyboard case then you got the wrong iPad. I just sold my iPad 4 yesterday in prep for the iPad 5 :-)

 

Even with the regular iPad, a keyboard case is just not large enough to have a "proper" touch-type keyboard.  

 

Jobs wasn't fooling when he said that the Apple Bluetooth keyboard was the smallest possible touch-type keyboard.  The extra inch and a half makes all the difference.  I find that while I can type on an iPad keyboard case with few errors, I can never get anywhere near the speed of a proper keyboard because the keys just aren't under my fingers.  You have to watch where your fingers are going and adjust your motions so they hit the right keys, which means you aren't touch typing at all really.  

 

This is why I prefer thumb typing in portrait mode on the mini as opposed to all of the above.  I don't have to look at my fingers so it's similar to the touch typing experience once you get used to it.  And the speed will never be that of touch typing but with practice can be faster than most anyone using a keyboard case.  

post #14 of 35

This seems like a bad design all round.  Given the entire problem of such an thing is it's size, why would they not have edge to edge keys?  And why bother with spaces between them?  

It seems to me that the design target would be the keys themselves, their layout and the overall thickness of the device.  Everything else should fit to that purpose.  

 

I agree with the author though that unless you are a two finger typer or have the hands of a child, the whole idea of such a keyboard is kind of faulty from the get go. 

post #15 of 35
There's an app on the Mac App Store called iKeyboard that let's you use your MBP keyboard to type on your iPad. It somehow advertises it over Bluetooth so the iPad can see it. It's such a good idea I think OS X should have it built in. In the "Sharing" System Preferences where they have File Sharing, Printer Sharing, Screen Sharing etc, they could also have Keyboard Sharing.
post #16 of 35
Touch typing is silly at this size, just as it would be on a phone size. That's not why I'd use it.

Forget the raised F and J--use this with 2 fingers or another method and you've got something useful. And your full screen left free for viewing.

I lean towards the larger iPad for something like this, but I'd get this* with a Mini if that's what I end up with.

* Or a Logitech--they make both sizes of these as well.
post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

And the speed will never be that of touch typing but with practice can be faster than most anyone using a keyboard case.  
Is touch typing even taught anymore? In some ways the typing class I took in High School (1963, thanks Miss Nauman) was of more practical value than any other. I have used that skill practically every day of my life.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
Reply
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
Reply
post #18 of 35

Here's the solution. Make the keyboard full size and fill in the remaining space that is larger than the iPad mini with some very nice sounding speakers and an extended battery for the mini. It will be larger of course but then you get some nice trade-offs for the larger size and can still remove the mini quickly from the larger sized case for when you need the smaller size. Someone needs to think of it more like a mini docking station rather than a cover that happens to contain a keyboard.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Reply
post #19 of 35
Not a big fan of Belkin accessories. They are hit or miss in quality. Not the worst, but they're not Apple. That's my two cents.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


Is touch typing even taught anymore? In some ways the typing class I took in High School (1963, thanks Miss Nauman) was of more practical value than any other. I have used that skill practically every day of my life.

 

I'm not sure if it is taught anymore.  From what I've heard of high school they got rid of History (possibly one of the most important subjects ever), and from what I've seen of University level writing they don't teach grammar or sentence structure anymore either.  I agree though … taking typing in Grade 8/9 ("optional" for me even way back then) turned out to be one of the smartest, most useful things I have done.  

 

I work with a few "coding geniuses" who still hunt and peck with two fingers and people do actually ridicule them when they aren't around.  They look foolish. 

post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Touch typing is silly at this size, just as it would be on a phone size. That's not why I'd use it.

Forget the raised F and J--use this with 2 fingers or another method and you've got something useful. And your full screen left free for viewing.

I lean towards the larger iPad for something like this, but I'd get this* with a Mini if that's what I end up with.

* Or a Logitech--they make both sizes of these as well.

 

I tend to agree, but if one is just going to use "two fingers" why not make them thumbs and get used to thumb typing in portrait mode?  

Way easier, somewhat faster once you get used to it, and best of all … nothing extra to carry. 

post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


Is touch typing even taught anymore? In some ways the typing class I took in High School (1963, thanks Miss Nauman) was of more practical value than any other. I have used that skill practically every day of my life.

 

I never learned to touch type in a class (I type around 75-80 words a minute, give or take).  I learned to touch type by playing a MUD about 16 hrs. a day back in the day.  All of a sudden, without realizing it had happened until that moment, I noticed that I was just typing without looking down.  It just happened out of practice and necessity.

post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Why? Because YOU say it's so?

Not everyone has the same needs as you. I could easily picture a use for an iPad Mini with keyboard.

In fact, I fully expect that at some point, Apple will offer an iPad Pro which has a physical keyboard but is otherwise an iPad. If they do that, it would probably be 10" at first, but there's no reason they couldn't exend it to 8", as well.

You need a MacBook Air, not an iPad. There you have your iPad pro 11".
post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by onClick View Post


You need a MacBook Air, not an iPad. There you have your iPad pro 11".

 

That's what I was thinking.

post #25 of 35
Can someone explain to me the positive argument for the purchase of an iPad along with an always-attached keyboard vs. getting an Air?
post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kustardking View Post

Can someone explain to me the positive argument for the purchase of an iPad along with an always-attached keyboard vs. getting an Air?

Not me. I find the touchscreen keyboard quite useable, and I don't want the extra cost or carrying weight of an iPad keyboard to mess up the portability of the iPad. A tablet keyboard might make sense for someone who is a touch-typing maven who relies on tactile sensation of physical keys.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #27 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by onClick View Post

You need a MacBook Air, not an iPad. There you have your iPad pro 11".

Not even close. The MBA is much heavier and has much shorter battery life. Furthermore, it doesn't have a touch screen which many people prefer for playing games and such. it is also more complex to use (some people STILL get lost with file management on full blown computers).

They're entirely different products.

The iPad Pro would be for someone who wants the minimum weight possible and maximum battery life, likes playing games and using apps on the iPad, and who types long messages regularly (either texting or email). I believe that's actually a significant number of people.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #28 of 35

I have never typed more than 45 words per minute. There are two finger typists out there who seem to really type fast. They don't even need to keep their eyes on the keyboard. I doubt they will be anywhere near as fast as a good touch typist but they really get the job done. This Belkin small keyboard would probably work for such people. I learned touch typing in high school. It is a great skill, but I wish I could do two Finger typing as fast as a friend of mine. Such a skill on a tiny keyboard would possibly be faster. A touch typist would be making mistakes and correcting them whereas a two finger typist would be moving along steadily without mistakes. The closely spaced keys would give the two finger typist an advantage.

post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


… In fact, I fully expect that at some point, Apple will offer an iPad Pro which has a physical keyboard but is otherwise an iPad. If they do that, it would probably be 10" at first, but there's no reason they couldn't exend it to 8", as well.

 

I think you could be right about this, except I would argue that the keyboard will always be detachable otherwise it isn't really a tablet at all.  

 

An iPad only slightly larger than the current full sized one (say the same relationship as the mini is to the full size one), would give a height of roughly 11" which is the minimum size of a full-size touch keyboard.  Such a device would have keyboard case options that turn it into a full-sized laptop.  The onscreen virtual keyboard of such a device would also be full-sized and ready for touch typing.  

 

It might also have a sort of desk-top "cradle" that it could sit in, and lean over at a few preset angles.  Alternatively, the desk itself, instead of being furniture that a computer sits on, could become a bluetooth "accessory" for docking a tablet computer with built in keyboards/extra storage etc.  In a very short time, the whole idea of buying a "computer" to sit on a "desk" might be old hat except for specialist uses.      

post #30 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

I think you could be right about this, except I would argue that the keyboard will always be detachable otherwise it isn't really a tablet at all.      

Sure it could. Apple could make it a convertible.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #31 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kustardking View Post

Can someone explain to me the positive argument for the purchase of an iPad along with an always-attached keyboard vs. getting an Air?

I don't understand it myself. If you really needed a keyboard the way to go would be a full size Bluetooth keyboard.
post #32 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I don't understand it myself. If you really needed a keyboard the way to go would be a full size Bluetooth keyboard.

Sure. Two separate items to keep track of. Two chargers to keep track of. Two devices to keep charged. Holding a keyboard AND an iPad on your lap would be very difficult. An MBA is much more expensive, harder to use, and heavier than an iPad, as well, so that's not a solution, either.

It amazes me how so many people have absolutely no imagination.

There are millions of people who like iPads and who find that the iPad is all they need. They don't need the weight and size and expense of a full blown MBA. All they want is an iPad with an easier way to type than the onscreen keyboard (which is fine for short messages, but clumsy for lengthy emails). An iPad with attached keyboard would be an easy step up from the iPad for people who don't need a full computer.

What's so difficult to understand about that?
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
Reply
post #33 of 35
Small keyboards don't _have to_ be unusable. Yes, many of the netbook keyboards were bad, but I used to have an HP Mini, and the keyboard on that was perfect. They somehow managed to make the key spacing feel as if it was normal sized.
post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Sure it could. Apple could make it a convertible.

 

To me that would be a laptop not a tablet, but … semantics.  Not worth arguing about. 

post #35 of 35

Belkin reviews? Since when did AI become iLounge?

The Logitech is much better- where is it's review?  Did Belkin pay AI for this? 

I am an owner of a Logitech. It turns my iPad mini into a netbook if I want and it is excellent to type on. It fits into a sleeve.

 
Where's the new Apple TV?
 
 
(So Y is the new X?   Zzzzzzzzzz......)
Reply
 
Where's the new Apple TV?
 
 
(So Y is the new X?   Zzzzzzzzzz......)
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPad
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPad › Review: Belkin's FastFit Keyboard Case for iPad Mini