Top positive review
Extremely versatile keyboard/case/touchpad combo, BUT there are issues...
Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2020
This review is for the 2020 iPad Pro 11 keyboard with trackpad. When I purchased this, the only other available models that I was able to find (that were purported to be immediately available) were the Apple Magic keyboard and the Logitech model. After my experience with the perfectly horrible Logitech Combo keyboard on my iPad Pro 10.5, I refused to even look at that style Logitech keyboard again, unless they were very fairly priced, but they aren't (despite the fact that the K810/K811 were awesome - which proves Logitech at one time knew how to do it right - but I digress...). I actually had the Apple model on order but cancelled it because of the form factor - to have to remove it to use the iPad as a simple tablet (something I do fairly often), or to use it in portrait mode (something I have to do with a few badly designed apps), was not a problem I was willing to accept, given the high cost.
Though I rarely order items from Amazon that aren't available as Prime items, I ordered this with the Amazon-supplied info that it would be delivered in 2-3 weeks, but I was very pleasantly surprised that I received it in less than 1. I was also very impressed with the pre-sales support I received to questions I asked. The packaging is impressively done: Serious box, informative graphics and verbiage, and the best manual I've ever seen for a keyboard. Speaking of which: Over the years, I have purchased almost 20 iPad bluetooth keyboard cases (14 from Amazon and a few from other sources), so I'm fairly well acquainted with the product category.... I mention this because every statement I make in this review is based on my past experience with all those items, as well, so it might be useful to you to know this isn't my first time around the block (with the exception of iPad-specific trackpads - more on that later).
Here's what I love: The versatility of the ways the case can be used is awesome. I won't repeat the product description - it's accurate in every detail. The row of function keys is very useful (something every reviewer of the Apple keyboard I've seen laments not having). The backlit keyboard (a necessity for me) is very well done. Key travel, tactile feedback, feel, etc. are nearly perfect - enough so that I don't know what I would suggest to improve them. For example, unlike many keyboards of this type, they don't wobble if pressed off-center. The case is not overly heavy, but holds the iPad securely and it seems to offer better protection than most in this category. It fits in/on the lap extremely well and is useable at any angle you would ever want. It sits on a table better than most I've seen, being just barely heavy enough to keep the iPad from toppling over backward at all reasonable angles. I really thought I would dislike the small size of the trackpad, but I think I actually prefer it. I haven't used the Apple one, but I have several laptops that have trackpads (and have retired a dozen or so that had them over the years), so I'm familiar with all sizes and shapes on other devices, and I don't mind mult-stroking when I have to. I'm still getting used to the gestures, but the iPad finally supporting a trackpad shows what it could have been all along - it's a natural fit - I'm a keyboard guy, but I really think people who aren't, but need to use a keyboard for typing text at times, will find the trackpad to be indispensable if they give it a chance.
Here's what I'm not so thrilled about: The keys are smaller than most keyboards, but with the inclusion of the trackpad, I don't think this is avoidable. There are going to be trade-offs involved, and I think they're perfectly reasonable, under the circumstances. I'm not thrilled with the lack of an Esc key, because I use it a lot in terminal applications, etc. but almost nobody has one on this category keyboard anymore, so I've gotten used to using Command-. in most instances, and redefining a key in the ones where that doesn't work.
A couple of annoyances (though there may be some way of fixing this - I haven't checked with the seller yet): Option-arrow (left/right) cycles through the keyboard backlighting colors, rather than jumping to the previous/next word, as is usual and Option-arrow (up/down) adjust the keyboard backlighting brightness up/down.
This review was typed on this keyboard, but I've only been using it a few hours, so I'll update this review as/warranted... So far, it greatly exceeds my expectations!
5/4/20 update: Regarding the keyboard Option-arrow keys being preset to control the keyboard backlighting, I received a reply from the seller that this cannot be changed. This is very unfortunate because, as I mentioned, I have numerous situations (mostly in Linux terminal sessions, but I also have to break my habit of using it to jump to the end of words) where I need these keystrokes for other things. If these keystroke combinations are not important to you, no worries - if they are, you're going to need to figure out workarounds or go with a different keyboard. Another REALLY annoying trait of this keyboard is that it times out fairly quickly (to save battery life, I'm sure), so you have to touch a key to reenable it. That's not a major problem, but most of the time it "goes to sleep" it defaults to a keyboard backlighting demo mode when you wake it up - this means that the backlight starts cycling through all of the possible color combinations, so you have to reset the color and brightness you want all over again. I'm contacting support on this issue, as well, with hopefully more useful response than I got on the Option-arrow issue. I'll update this review with the results. If this isn't something that can be changed, I'll be revising the Star count down by at least 1 Star, perhaps 2...
5/4/20 Update #2: After chatting with tech support (via their web site's very prompt online chat feature), I have confirmed that both issues mentioned above are not fixable... I'm lowering my review by only one star, because I think most will not be as bothered by them as I am, but it is something every potential purchaser must weigh for themselves. Personally, the Option-arrow problem is so crucial that I will need to purchase a different keyboard/case when a model with a trackpad that doesn't have this problem becomes available. The issue with the keyboard backlighting reverting to demo mode is not a feature - it's a bug, plain and simple, in my opinion, and it's insanely annoying to nit pickers like myself - your mileage may vary. Lastly, in my discussion with support, I was told that they used the Option-arrow combination for backlight changes because it wasn't a combination supported by the iPad anyway. This betrays a critical and fundamental lack of knowledge of the iPad, so who knows what other "gotchas" I may discover as I use the product longer. I will be updating this review (and the star rating) as necessary.
5/15/20 update - Everything I've said so far still goes, only more so. The commandeering of the Option-arrow keys is insanely stupid, if you have reason to care, and I do. I just had to say that, in case the manufacturer reads these reviews. I really hope they do, because the idea of taking essential keys away from the user and instead utilizing them for device specific functions that already have dedicated keys for them is, um, well, have I used the words "insanely stupid" already? That said, there are a few other things to and, and they're not all bad. The keyboard charge-remaining function is very nice and handy (though it should be a Ctrl- or Opt- function, not a dedicated key - they would've had room for an ESC key if they'd done that - but I digress, again...). Speaking of keyboard charging, I charged it when I got it, of course, it gets at least 4 hours of solid use per day, it's now showing a charge of 2 out of 3, very impressive. Contrary to some of the other reviews I've read, I find that the touchpad works fine, and I have relatively few issues with iPadOS gestures (though the page scroll gesture is a little quirky at times). It does lack a click switch (and yes, I have to say that it's not essential, but it sure would be a major improvement), so you can't select an action that way - you have to tap on it instead. The keyboard timeout, which I mentioned as an irritatingly short period of time previously, is even more irritatingly short than I at first thought, and that's saying something. Add to that the fact that, as I mentioned before, the backlight color and brightness settings lose their brains and revert to that "insanely stupid" (there's those words again - and they fit) cycle-through-all-available-colors-at-burn-your-retinas-in-the-dark-brightness, and you have a keyboard that routinely makes you want to see if it can fly (but, alas, it has your very expensive iPad Pro nestled in it). I realize that, for those of you with the patience and persistence to read this far, it must appear that there's more to hate about this keyboard than there is to love, but I stand by the 4 star rating: it's cheap, more functional than Apple's Magic Keyboard in some critically important ways, and overall works well. It's just a shame that the designers didn't really pay any attention whatsoever to some critical details and/or solicit the feedback of some serious users. I'm looking forward to version 2, or a competitor who's paying attention and captitalizes on the situation by learning from Typecase's mistakes and fixing the annoyances of this one, while retaining the form factor advanatages. That will be the killer keyboard/touchpad/case combo.
6/5/20 update - The charge indicator dropped from 2 of 3 to 1 of 3 on 6/1, and the red light indicating charging was necessary came on this morning. At that time, the backlighting ceased to function, for obvious reasons... However, I'm typing on it now with the backlight on while charging, so that's a nice capability. Based on my usage of the keyboard (at least 4 hours per day - often more, with 1 hour, at least, using backlighting (lowest brightness), I'd find it difficult to imagine that many users would need to charge the keyboard more than once per month. Of course, if the keyboard didn't insist on cycling through all the colors at highest intensity every time you "wake it up" (have I mentioned that before?) it would probably last 3 months between charges. By the way, the keyboard seems to "go to sleep" after 10 minutes of non-use, and by that I mean non-use of the keyboard - so if you're reading a pdf and scrolling around with your finger, stylus or Apple Pencil on the screen, but not using the keyboard itself for 10 minutes, it disconnects and "goes to sleep". And speaking of sleep, there's a quirk in the keyboard's wake-up process: It "sees", but doesn't transmit to the iPad, the first keystroke, until you type a second. Now, if you know this, and need to type a sequence of letters, you can adapt, but there are other things you can't adapt to. For example, if you tap the "Home" key (the top row left-most key (the one that SHOULD be an ESC key) once to wake the keyboard and go to the home screen on the iPad, nothing happens. If you tap it again, it sends 2 of the keystrokes to the iPad, which of course means "open the task switcher". Grrrrrrr - I KNEW I'd find additional quirks as soon as heard that remark about the Option-Arrow keys not being used by the iPad. Oh well - I'm not dropping my review by another star, not just yet, anyway. All the good things I've said about it still stand. Also, I have to say that the keys themselves, the travel, the pressure required, etc. give this keyboard the feel of a very good quality device - which is definitely worth mentioning because, based on the prices of the models that compete with this one so far, I didn't pay for a quality device. This thing is positively cheap for the functionality. And let's not forget that the 360-swivel form factor with (admittedly mediocre) touchpad isn't available in anything else that I know of and it's a positively killer feature. It just seriously needs some tweaks. Brydge's idea of a firmware-updatable keyboard could sure save us consumers some grief when keyboards with bugs like the ones this one has are released to the market prematurely - maybe that will eventually become a standard feature. How about an app that lets you customize the keyboard's keys and functionality a bit?
6/8/20 update: Recharging the keyboard from dead-to-full took a little over 4 hours, while using it with backlighting on, so that's convenient. The "where did the first keystroke go" sleeping quirk seems to be a bug: you can't even wake the keyboard with a single press of the shift key - it requires two. So, while the keyboard doesn't miss the fact that you pressed the key (and stores and forwards it, as I mentioned previously), it doesn't do anything with it until it detects a second keystroke. It's a minor annoyance, but, well, it's just one more thing you have to remember if you don't want it to become a less minor annoyance....