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Tablets are fantastic devices for when you want to watch a video or read a comic or just play Marvel Puzzle Quest on a really, really big screen.
But what about when you want to actually get work done? With a form factor that consists of nothing but screen, typing out emails, manipulating Google doc or filling out spreadsheets is a chore.
Now, just about any keyboard can be hooked up to a tablet via Bluetooth. But that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal portable keyboard for your tablet. After all, busting out your full-sized, 10-key, mechanical keyboard on the plane just isn’t going to work.
Here are some smarter options for tablet keyboards.
Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
If you’re lucky enough to have an iPad Pro, you simply have to have the companion keyboard case. The official Apple Smart Keyboard Folio is so good, it should be included in the box with the iPad Pro. The keys have just the right amount of travel so that extended typing sessions don’t get tiring. You don’t have to worry about charging the folio, since it draws power from the iPad Pro itself. Plus, there are two notches for easy setting of optimal viewing angles. If you want your iPad Pro to be a true productivity machine, you need the Smart Keyboard Folio as well. It also comes in a smaller version to fit your 10.5″ iPad Pro.
The Logitech K780 has a lot of things going for it. Not only does it have a built-in tablet/phone rest, but you can switch between three devices with your preset buttons. The keyboard is also OS-agnostic. Mac, PC, iOS, Android? The K780 doesn’t care, it will work with anything that has Bluetooth capability or the ability to plug in a wireless transmitter. If you have a mouse that works with Logitech’s Flow technology, you can even eliminate having to manually switch between devices. The keyboard input will follow your mouse from device to device, activating wherever your cursor is. This is also the only keyboard on this list that manages to sneak in a number pad. For a portable keyboard, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. This keyboard also barely sips battery power, lasting for two years on a couple of AAA batteries.
The Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard is a compact keyboard that’s just about an inch taller than an iPad mini and is barely thicker than a AAA battery. It can store multiple profiles on the device so that you can switch among your tablet, phone and your home computer. Honestly, it’s a solid enough performer that it could be your only keyboard. It even has multiple layouts printed on the multifunction keys so that you can toggle between Windows and Mac. It also sports a two-year battery life. Pop a couple of AAA batteries in the back and you’ll have a keyboard you can always count on being ready to work whenever or wherever you are. Typing on it is practically silent. As much as I love my clicky keyboards, when you’re less than an inch away from your sleeping seatmate on a plane, a little bit of typing discretion is a good thing.
If you really want to secure your tablet keyboard investment, then grab the spill-proof Keys-to-Go. Roughly the size and thickness of the front of an iPad mini cover, this rechargeable keyboard is thinner, lighter and can withstand being soaked by your coffee when the people next to you at Starbucks elbow your cup over by accident (believe me, I know). For your tablet, there’s also a stand so that you can attach your device to the back of the keyboard while you type. And while it won’t last for years on a single charge, Logitech says the Keys-to-Go deck will last at least 3 months between charges. That’s more life than I get out of any rechargeable device I own. It’s a universal keyboard as well (though it does have a row of iOS-specific shortcut keys), but doesn’t save multiple profiles. If space is your major consideration, then this will be the portable keyboard you’ll want to pick up.