ClamCase: A Better iPad Keyboard

Clamcase iPad Keyboard

The lack of an iPad keyboard holds many users back from being able to use their iPad for anything more than entertainment purposes. Sure, there are apps available that claim to help you be more productive with your iPad. Email apps and web browsers are fine with the virtual keyboard, but if you have to do any sort of heavy duty typing, forget it. That’s one of the reasons I went Android when I was looking for a mobile device; I already knew there were protective cases for Android devices with built-in keyboards.

iPad users rejoice! For you now have the ClamCase®, coming in two different versions: ClamCase and ClamCase Pro.

Discovering the ClamCase iPad Keyboard

If you own an iPad, you more than likely have seen the real and fake leather cases that allow you to prop your iPad on a flat surface, so it’s easier to read. The ClamCase is like those, but better. It protects your expensive iPad from nicks, scratches, and other damage. The aluminum and polycarbonate materials that make up its construction ensures that. The Pro is of both aluminum and polycarbonate construction, while the original is all polycarbonate. Even better, unlike many other iPad cases I’ve seen, this one covers and protects the whole iPad, not just the display and back.

However, it also has that all-important keyboard, too. Even better, there’s no physical connection to get damaged as the keyboard connects to your iPad using Bluetooth connectivity. Both versions can be configured in four different ways: keyboard laptop style, A-frame for easier viewing, lid folded partway back to allow for vertical viewing, and lid folded all the way back to hold like a book. The ClamCase has a unique and patent-pending 360-degree swivel hinge that allows you to use your iPad in ways that suit you. Additionally, there’s no “kickstand” in the back to slip and slide.

OK, but it’s so small that it has to have a truncated keyboard, right? Nope, it’s got a full QWERTY keyboard that also has 14 special function keys. These keys give you the ability to cut, paste and copy, as well as other features such as controlling your music. One thing many people don’t think of when they think of an external keyboard for their mobile device is the space the virtual keyboard takes up. Imagine getting all that screen space (40 percent of the screen, actually) back.

My mother has an iPad 2 with one of the leatherette cases. Her iPad wakes and sleeps when she opens and closes the cover. Both the original and the Pro versions of the ClamCase perform this function, as well. The company website says the rechargeable battery in both versions will give you hours of use, but sadly, they don’t say how many hours, although the Pro page mentions a lithium-ion battery that is supposed to deliver better battery life. Checking out the reviews, I noticed that the company claims 100 hours of usable battery life and up to six months of standby time.

If you’re like me, the price tags on these babies may be their biggest stumbling block. The original, all plastic version carries a price tag of $149, while the Pro’s price is $169. You’ve already sunk several hundred dollars into your iPad as it is, so these prices seem a bit steep.

What Others Say About the ClamCase?

When you peruse the product site, you see a number of claims from the press that are all glowing reviews of the ClamCase. One that I saw was from PC Magazine and said, “Take your tablet experience to the next level.” There are others that rotate, that are said to be from reviewers from MSNBC, Mac Life, Yahoo!, Macword, and PCworld, but none of them are directly attributed.

If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, they’ve helpfully printed some glowing reviews from actual users. Being the skeptic that I am, I decided to dig a little deeper. Here’s what I found:

Rick Broida from CNet said, “This expensive keyboard/case gives your iPad a Macbook-style makeover and total protection. But is it too heavy to be practical?” on his review of the Pro. By the way, the company claims the Pro is even lighter than the original version. Other than the weight issue, he appeared to really like it.

Eugene Kim over at PCMag said pretty much the same thing, but he also mentioned that even though the keyboard isn’t full-sized, it isn’t hard to transition directly from a bigger keyboard to the one in either Pro or original version in this new iPad keyboard ClamCase.

All in all, if you use your iPad for productivity, I can definitely recommend this iPad keyboard. However, if all you use your iPad for is entertainment and the occasional email, the high price of both versions makes it hard for me to recommend, as there are models from other manufacturers that are significantly lower in price.