We first set our eyes on the iBlueK keyboard at CES in January. From the start, it was obvious that this was a whole new class of iPad keyboard case and one to look out for. With the integrated yet removable keyboard design in a good looking folio case, it was something we hadn’t seen. It took many months to reach our hands, but we finally got in one to try out. Let’s put it through its paces.

The iBlueK securely holds the iPad 2 in place with a standard leather frame around the border of the iPad 2. The other half of the folio has the removable keyboard, sturdily held in place by magnets, yet easily removed.

The folio can be held closed by another magnet on the flap. This flap does a good job of keeping the folio closed while in a bag or being carried. On the back of the folio is an easel flap that flips out and allows you to place the case in its one upright position.

Unfortunately, this is the first downside to this case — there’s only one position available to place the iPad 2 in while using the folio. The closure strap, which I originally thought to be very annoyingly covering the screen, easily connects to the easel in the back with the built in magnet, to keep it out of the way. The real problem with this is that the case can only be held upright while leaning on this easel and placed on a large flat surface. This case can’t be used on your lap for example. This single position also means that you can only use the case in horizontal orientation.

A keyboard case is really all about the keyboard, right? So, how is this one? There’s good news here. The keys are large and have a nice travel to them. The layout is good with two shift keys and a proper inverted T for the arrow keys. Oh, and don’t forget that the keyboard is removable and easy to position as close or as far from the iPad as you wish. The keyboard itself is super thin too.

The one real downside to the keyboard could be the closeness of the keys. While a good typist can get used to that quickly, I’ve had my struggles with it while writing this review. The only other negative I could say about the keyboard is the single width backspace key. My preference is for a double-width backspace key, and this keyboard, while having it in the right position, is only a single width.

Overall the construction of the folio is very good, with quality stitching and solid assembly. It feels sturdy. Initially there was a problem with the smell of the folio right out of the packaging. Reeking heavily of chemical production smells, it needed to be left open for a few days, to air out, before I could use it.

I must admit that I was a little disappointed overall by the iBlueK. Partially because of the 6+ month wait. While it’s a competent keyboard and a good case, it now just feels behind. The 6 months in production, after announcing it at CES, now makes it feel a bit dated. While it was innovative in January, it just feels bulky and a generation behind. Other manufacturers, led by Apple and the Smart Cover, have gone for more sleek and thin cases.

The good news is that this is a well constructed case, and a great start. I’m expecting the next revision of this case to be stellar. If the added size and weight don’t bother you, this is a great, well-constructed folio with the added bonus of a keyboard.

Thanks to Dexim PR who sent us the iBlueK for this review as quickly as they could get it. You can pick up the iBlueK for under $100 at Amazon.com, J&R, and other retailers.

Posted in: Blog, Hardware