I’ve been astounded by folks who still insist the iPad isn’t a great productivity tool. The early iPad was primarily for content consumption, but over the last 2 years, there has been a concerted effort by Apple and software developers to make it a phenomenal tool for creation as well. For me, a keyboard is the key to iPad productivity. With a keyboard and particular software (to be covered in future entries), my iPad 3 (err, iPad) serves as a replacement for my MacBook Pro 90% of the time.

There are an expanding number of available Bluetooth keyboards out there. My personal journey started with Apple’s wireless keyboard . Although this set up worked well, it was not that portable. I needed a separate bag to carry the iPad and keyboard-and found myself rarely going through the hassle of taking / pulling out my keyboard. As a busy academic physician that works both clinically and administratively, I am in need of a portable solution that would work in the operating room and the board room–thus I started looking at folios (case and keyboard contained in one).

A short time later, I settled on the Sena Leather Folio. Through reviews I summized the Sena had two disadvantages, 1. it was expensive and 2. it lacked a right-sided shift key. I decided to pony up and thought I could easily overcome the non-traditional keyboard. Boy, was I ever wrong. The lack of the shift key was my major complaint, but not the only one. I would never, ever buy one again. Besides the outrageous price, what were the problems?

Strike One-The lack of a right shift key-although I believed I could overcome this limitation, I have to admit it drove me absolutely crazy (and greatly inhibited my productivity). Having to consciously override years of (automated) typing behavior slowed my writing down considerably. I tried work-arounds such as writing while skipping the caps with the right hand-none worked. The cognitive effort needed to override my automated behavior greatly impacted the speed and quality of my work. Worse yet, when in the flow of writing, I would often fail to overide the urge to hit the right shift and would accidently type an apostrophe (the key on the Sena keyboard where the right shift SHOULD be).

Strike Two-The stand-I like to type while sitting in a chair or relaxing in my hammock (one of my favorite writing places). The Sena case has a single thin leg to help the iPad stand up in landscape mode. The design makes it impossible to type with the Sena in your lap; the iPad screen falls down.

Strike Three-the case enclosure-the iPad is bound to the Sena by a simple tab that tucks into the opposite side of the case. In less than a month, the tab became overly flexible, and the ipad constantly slipped about in the case (especially when propped up). This was not only annoying, but the case then tended to block part of the screen.

I can’t emphasize enough the non-traditional layout of the Sena Keyboard will greatly inhibit your productivity! You’ve been warned.

When I purchased my new iPad earlier this year, I decided it was time to also upgrade my keyboard. Which brings me to the ZAGG Folio 3. I’ve owned the black leather folio 3 and keyboard for more than a month, and I can’t say enough positive things about it. It is extremely thin, portable, easy to use and set-up. The case is designed to use the iPad primarily in the landscape mode, but the iPad can be removed from its holder and flipped to portrait mode if you so desire. The design of the case is such that it can be used in your lap, on a table, or even in a hammock. If you want to just read, the keyboard is thin enough to flip behind the screen, conveniently out of the way. A charge of the keyboard lasts several months I’ve charged a single time since my purchase- even with heavy daily use). Best of all, the Zagg Folio 3 has a standard keyboard (yes, with a right-shift key)-this alone has doubled my productivity in writing. The only complaint I have is the slickness of the leather case. I have not dropped it yet, but I fear it’s only a matter of time.

The Zagg has become a critical piece of hardware in my productivity workflow. I suggest you order yours today.

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iPad Keyboard Conundrum by Jeff Taekman, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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