I’ve tested almost every major iPad keyboard case since the first iPad was released five years ago, and still recall when companies charged $100 for greasy vinyl folios with terrible, squishy rubber keys. Thankfully, a lot has changed since then. If you’re willing to spend $100, you can get a much nicer iPad-holding case attached to a nearly great keyboard. Drop $130-$150 (or go nuts for $170), and you can get a metal keyboard that partially resembles a MacBook Air. Personally, $100 is the ceiling I’d ever be willing to pay for an iPad keyboard case, and I’d rather pay less. But unless you count discontinued models for prior-generation iPads, there aren’t many great options.
Anker is changing that. Its new Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case for iPad Air 2 sells for a stunningly low $40, and just like the 25,600mAh Anker iPad battery pack I previously reviewed, it delivers remarkable value for its price point. As the product of strategic compromises, it winds up giving up only one thing I typically prefer — a complete iPad-holding frame — in order to offer an excellent typing experience for the same cost as a typical iPad case without a keyboard. Read on for the reasons why I’d recommend this over options costing three times the price.
- Pares down typical keyboard case design, focusing heavily on the keyboard versus the case
- Offers a comfortable hard plastic typing surface with responsive keys and auto power on/off
- Six-month battery life between recharges is at upper end of industry performance
- Ships in eco-friendly packaging
Many of the iPad keyboard cases I’ve liked in the past have focused a lot upon the frame that holds the iPad, but the core element in Anker’s Keyboard Case is the keyboard — the part that needs to work well, or else. There’s no better way to explain the keyboard’s design than to say Anker got it all right: the keys are responsive, reasonably-sized, and comfortably separated, with no oddly-remapped or missing keys. Apart from the now-standard merging of iOS function keys with the top row of numbers, all of Anker’s keys are in the same places as on Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard. It took no time at all for me to start typing as well on Anker’s keyboard as on Apple’s, far less than the 15-30-minute adjustment time (with cramped fingers) I’ve experienced with many iPad keyboard cases.Anker achieved this by refusing to shoehorn its keys into an overly narrow space. The Keyboard Case’s footprint is a little larger than the iPad Air 2, in part to accommodate the minimalist frame it uses to hold the tablet in place. Hard plastic ribs lined with rubber firmly hold the iPad’s right edge inside the case, while a magnetic bar enables the iPad to form a very stable typing/video viewing angle atop the keyboard, as well as automatically powering the keyboard on and off. Other magnets hold the case firmly closed, and automatically unlock the iPad’s screen when it’s opened. All of these innovations appeared first elsewhere, but work perfectly here.
The only negative with Anker’s design: the iPad’s edges and buttons are recessed inside the folio. While the protection is welcome, this can make the buttons a little more challenging — not hard — to access. This would matter more if the volume controls weren’t also accessible from the iPad’s Control Center, or if there weren’t magnets in the case to automatically lock and unlock the screen. As-is, it’s a design compromise with little real-world consequence.
The Keyboard Case’s other features are also compelling: using the included micro-USB cable, you get six months of battery life between charges, which is in the middle of the two-month to twelve-month battery life found in rival keyboard cases. The faux leather exterior looks and feels enough like real fine-grain leather to pass executive boardroom muster. And the eco-friendly cardboard packaging is a much-appreciated alternative to the overwrought boxes packed with plastic, foam, ribbons and magnets used by too many companies.
As a design judge and tester of literally thousands of Apple accessories, it’s very clear to me that Anker really knows what it’s doing. Even at budget prices, accessories like this are rapidly earning their way into my personal travel bags when I have access to more expensive and complex alternatives. If you’re looking for a keyboard case — or didn’t consider them in the past because their prices were unappealing from accessories like this — I’d highly recommend that you consider the $40 Bluetooth Folio Keyboard Case as a viable option.Manufacturer:
iPad Air 2
Filed under: iOS Devices, Reviews Tagged: Anker, bluetooth keyboard, Bluetooth keyboard case, iPad Air 2, iPad Air 2 keyboard cases, keyboard case
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Apple security guard in dispute with photographer at iPad event (via The Australian)
Apple will continue using contractors as security guards for special events, such as the upcoming "Spring Forward" media event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9th. Apple is believed to have begun constructing an extension on the Yerba Buena Center over the weekend, possibly as an Apple Watch demo area, and security guards wearing "Apple Security" shirts were spotted monitoring the premises.
"We will be hiring a large number of full-time people to handle our day-to-day security needs," the spokeswoman told the San Jose Mercury News. "We hope that virtually all of these positions will be filled by employees from our current security vendor and we're working closely with them on this process."Apple has faced increasing pressure to provide individuals who cook, clean and monitor security for the company with the same benefits as other employees. Local union United Service Workers West staged a protest on Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California in December over complaints that its security contractor Security Industry Specialists treated workers poorly and that many positions were part-time.
Other service workers in Silicon Valley are also fighting for better wages and benefits. The Wall Street Journal reported that a group of 158 bus drivers working for Compass Transportation, which provides shuttle service for Apple, eBay, Genentech, Yahoo and Zynga, voted on Friday to be represented by local union Teamsters Local 853 in negotiations with Compass over fair working conditions.
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Gartner is out with its latest report tracking smartphone movement during the previous year and more specifically the holiday quarter.
Headlining the report is news that over 1 billion smartphones were sold in 2014, a data point IDC first said was hit in the previous year, adding that two out of three phones sold last year qualified as smartphones.
Gartner’s data shows Apple topped Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales with 74,832,000 units shipped during the holiday quarter, just 1.8 million units more than Samsung, giving Apple 20.4% market share for the quarter, a virtual tie with Samsung’s 19.9%.
Notably, Gartner’s data told a different story during the same quarter in 2013 when Samsung topped Apple’s smartphone sales around the world by more than 30 million units with 29.5 % marketshare for the quarter over Apple’s 17.8%.
Apple’s record 74.4 million iPhone sales during the holiday quarter following the introduction of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus of course served Apple well. Samsung entered the quarter ahead of rumors of the newly announced Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge flagship smartphones which will start shipping next month.
Coming up behind Apple and Samsung is Lenovo (which includes sales of Motorola-branded phones), Huawei, and Xiaomi with single digit market share. The collective group of others which amount to 42.4% of the holiday quarter sales.
When you look at the data for smartphone sales to end users by vendors for the year as a whole, though, Apple falls behind Samsung considerably. Samsung sales caught 24.7 percent of the market over Apple’s 15.4 percent for the year. The difference? Samsung sold 307,597,000 units over Apple’s 191,426,000 units. Compared to marketshare in 2013, Apple actually dropped 0.1% from 15.5%, although Samsung lost 6 percentage points to the runners-up.
With Apple out of its S-year cycle for most of 2015 (until this fall) and Samsung competing with its new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, the race between the two will remain an interesting space to watch.
Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices, Tech Industry Tagged: Apple, Galaxy, Garnter, iPhone, Samsung
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Daily Deals: uNu MFi 3000mAh Battery Case for iPhone 6 $49 (Reg. $80), more
PNY Turbo 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive: $70 shipped (Orig. $130)
Apple iPad mini 2 WiFi: 16GB $250/32GB $300 w/ free shipping ($50 off)Apple MacBook Air 13.3″ Laptop (previous gen) 1.3GHz/4GB/128GB $830 (orig. $1,099)
SanDisk’s groundbreaking microSD card will stuff an extra 200GB in your MacBook, GoPro, more
Small States Review – Bolt Briefcase from WaterField Designs is an ideal work and travel companion, $249 giveawayMore new gear from today:
Games/Apps: LEGO, Mickey & Rayman titles up to 75% off, iOS freebies, more
- New! Lenmar Meridian MFi iPhone 5/5s Battery Case $20 + shipping (Reg. up to $40+)
- New! Mpow Solar-Powerd Wireless LED Motion Sensor Light: $11 Prime shipped ($19 off)
- New! Free download: Transparent soundtrack featuring Bob Dylan, Neil Young, more
- New! Sennheiser HD 439 over-ear headphones in black $40 shipped (orig. $100)
- New! HP Stream 7 32GB Windows 8.1 Tablet + Office 365 ($70 value) + $25 gift card: $79
- New! JLab Grab Bag – headphones, Bluetooth speakers, more: $7.50 shipped
- New! DC Comic Issue #1s on Google Play for Free: Batman, Superman, more
- Incase Maki Canvas Jacket for iPad 2/3/4 case $10 shipped (Reg. $40)
- Google Play’s Birthday Sale includes $0.99 albums, $3 movies, discounted apps, more
- Readdle’s wireless printing app Printer Pro goes free on iOS (Reg. $7)
- Amazon Spring Break Fashion Sale: Reef Sandal $32, Oakley Sunglasses $72+, more
- Audio-Technica Headphones: PRO700MK2 on-ears $128 (Reg. $170+), more
- Jabra Solemate Bluetooth Speaker in black $60 shipped (Reg. $95+)
- Beats Studio Wired Over-Ear Headphones $230 shipped (Reg. $300)
- Elgato 256GB Portable Thunderbolt Drive $368 shipped (orig. $500)
- Pioneer’s SPH-DA120 adds Apple CarPlay to your car for $445 (Reg. $600)
- Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof Running GPS $140 (Reg. $170)
- Amazing Indie Game iOS sale: up to 50% off Kingdom Rush, Banner Saga, more
- Dr. Seuss Birthday Sale: up to 80% off more than 60 iOS book apps/collections
Pansonic’s Nubo weatherproof, 4G-equipped monitoring camera is poised to slay Dropcam
- NeatherRealm announces Mortal Kombat X hybrid card-battler for iOS and Android
- Mad Catz brings console style controllers to Android devices with the L.Y.N.X.3
- Life Hack: Fix your iMac’s biggest annoyance by moving its USB ports
- Radically upgrade your PS4, Xbox One or Wii U hard drive for $100 or less
- Free Xbox Live Gold Games for March: Rayman Legends, Tomb Raider, more
- Netflix March Preview: House of Cards S3, Aziz Ansari Live standup, Mad Men S7, more
- These AA and AAA batteries can be recharged from any USB power source
- Control Siri, iTunes and your iPhone’s camera from afar w/ Satechi’s Bluetooth buttons
Filed under: Tips and Tricks Tagged: 256GB Flash Drive, 9to5Toys, coupon codes, Daily Deals, free music, free shipping, Freebies, iOS freebies, iPhone 6 Battery Case, Lunch Break, PNY, uNu DX 6, uNu iPhone 6, USB 3.0
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Highlighted in the new version is the ability to manage bill reminders right from the app. For the iPhone version, bill reminders can be created, edited, and managed from the latest version of the app. A change to the Overview tab wraps all this together.
Mint has also enhanced the newly added Updates view to show upcoming bill due dates. The new Upcoming Bills Card will present any bills with a due date within the next seven days.
In terms of accessibility, Mint has added support in a number of areas of the app. This includes the login, signup, split transactions and transaction detail pages.
Mint 4.1 for iPhone and iPad is available for free on the App Store.
Filed under: Apps Tagged: accessibility, bill reminders, budget, finance, Intuit, Mint, money, money management, personal finance
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Apple rejected Buzz Aldrin’s space app for having too much Buzz Aldrin
x-bot - Today, 06:50 PM
Google ‘preparing’ Android Wear support for iPhone
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Pebble’s Apple Watch competitor is the most funded Kickstarter ever
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Apple could surprise us with its 12-inch MacBook Air next week
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