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iPad Air Smart Cover – Black »
Tags: 360°, Airbender, Apple, Bluetooth, Case, Cover, Detachable, iPad, Keyboard, Reviews, Smart, Spin, Trent, Wireless
April 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm (UTC 8)
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My previous experience was with a Kensington leather-type folio Bt keyboard case on my iPad 3.
PROS:Great keyboard feel and very sensible layout. I especially like the top right lock button that requires the function key in order to activate – this minimizes accidental locks which happened all the time on my old case. It also has a dedicated function key row above the number buttons.Strong hinge made of metal. It seems like this part will last.Overall versatility. Being able to use it separated with the metal hinge in stand mode and the easy detachment of the iPad are plus. However, I just don’t think I will really make use of all these modes as I keep my iPad in the case all the time.
CONS:The biggest drawback for me was the fact that in the most typical landscape mode, the iPad does not sit in the trough above the keyboard tray at a convenient angle WITHOUT unlocking and sliding the metal hinge out. If you don’t extend the hinge, the iPad screen sits at less than a 90° angle. I couldn’t believe they designed the product this way. I expect 90% of my iPad usage will be as a traditional mini-laptop and having to mess with the metal hinge release and extending it out every time is a deal breaker.I also noticed the 360° rotatable hinge, while being a cool feature, seems to get scratched by the metal hinge arms since there is not enough clearance as you rotate it. I got this case just today but it’s already got scratches in parts of rotation track area at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions when the iPad is in landscape.It is a heavy case but for the features I was willing to deal with the weight since my old Kensington / iPad 3 combo was pretty heavy also. However, those features aren’t useful enough to me to deal with the drawback of not being able to quickly open the case like a clam shell and start using it without fussing with the hinge.
UPDATE: 12/9/2013 – Only a few hours after my review went live, I received a helpful call from a gentlemen at NewTrent. First, regarding the scratching of the rotation track area, he said that was a known issue and in fact the most recent versions of this case have fixed that by recessing the rotation track area so there is more clearance with the metal hinge pins. I must have gotten an earlier version in this production run from Amazon inventory. I asked him if there was any fix or resolution for my main complaint of having to pull out the sliding hinge EVERY time you want to use it in landscape mode and he said no. The issue is the keyboard is designed to be lighter but the iPad Air is too heavy and it would tip over backward if there wasn’t the slide-out metal arm to offer stability/bracing. This case still won’t work work for me but at least NewTrent has good product support based on my experience.
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April 5, 2014 at 8:49 pm (UTC 8)
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One of the first things you notice about this case is that it’s pretty heavy, although not as heavy as the original version of Airbender. The case has been obviously redesigned, and it has lost some of its bulk. The new case doesn’t come with the several layers of protection for the iPad, which made it fairly hard to put your iPad in and out.
The case is indeed very sturdy and it covers your iPad Air almost completely, except for the screen, which is now completely exposed. It imbues one with a confidence that the case will protect your iPad Air from most falls and bumps, although I have not been brave enough to venture an actual physical test. The case detaches from the keyboard, and it allows you to use the iPad by itself. All ports are exposed and are easily accessible with cords.
The keyboard paired up with my iPad Air very easily and without any hitches. It also maintained connection for the duration of use. The keyboard is charged through a micro USB slot on the side. (An Apple compatible charging port might have been a more appropriate choice, but knowing how reluctant Apple is to let the third-party vendors use its ports, this was likely not going to happen.) The keyboard is very responsive, and I for the most part like the key action. However, this sized keyboard is cramped, and it will really vary from one individual to the next how comfortable you find typing on a keyboard of this size. I am fine with composing emails and typing documents that are up to 500 words in length (such as this one), but I would not consider writing the next great American novel on it.
The arm that attaches the case to the keyboard allows for your iPad to rotate through an arbitrary angle. The design of the arm and its attachment mechanism has also been tweaked from the previous model, and it’s now much easier to adjust it and keep the iPad fixed in its place. Both the landscape and the portrait modes are fully supported. The arm is detachable, and it allows you to position the keyboard at some distance from the iPad while typing – very convenient for the times when you don’t want to stare too closely at the small screen. When attached the are is very securely fixed and it allows you for the “true” laptop use anywhere where you feel like taking your iPad Air.
The case/keyboard combo is very well made. It is also competitively priced, and if you are looking for a rugged device/accessory of this kind then you will not go wrong with this New Trent model. I highly recommend it.
April 5, 2014 at 9:19 pm (UTC 8)
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I received the keyboard case and easily slipped my iPad Air into the plastic backing portion of the case. It snaps in securely and there’s no chance of it falling out. The case is nice and thin and has smartly sized cutouts for the volume rocker, mute switch, camera, headphone jack, logo, microphone, and docking port. There’s also a grill-type covering for the speaker that doesn’t seem to dampen the sound at all. Without the keyboard, it makes for a nice protective plastic case. One improvement from the previous Airbender case is that while there is a ‘show off’ circle around the apple logo (needed for attaching the keyboard – more on that later), there is a transparent plastic covering – this is great because it means that no part of the iPad Air back is exposed if you lay it down on a table / surface.
I used the previous case for almost a year and became very familiar with it and had to get this new one right away to match my new iPad Air.
Before getting to the keyboard, what is nice about the plastic back is that the raised cutout (again, with the transparent plastic covering for protection) around the logo makes it very easy to feel secure about holding the iPad. Your fingers have a place to ‘hook’ into, and so I know I’m not going to slip and drop it (which is something I could see myself doing otherwise)
There’s a very nice guide online showing you how to attach the keyboard to the iPad online at <[...]>. Once you use the case for a little while, you’ll develop your own ‘favorite’ way of connecting and disconnecting it. The new 2.0 Airbender case is much slimmer than the older case, which is nice, but did mean that I had to re-learn how to quickly disconnect the case from the keyboard. I did get the hang of it, but its an unfortunately trade-off of a lower overall profile to the case. There’s still a very secure set of springs that hold the iPad to the keyboard, but its not too difficult to disconnect.
Once I had it connected, it closed securely and there wasn’t any ‘give’ to the case so I wasn’t worried about it accidentally falling open. It made for a nice compact way to carry the keyboard and iPad together.
Another change to the 2.0 version of the Airbender case is that the hinge is now made of metal instead of plastic. Since this is the one ‘working part’ of the whole setup, its very nice that they took steps to make it stronger. It also is slightly stiffer but because of the material I don’t feel bad pulling a little harder. This may loosen up when I open and close it more in the future, possibly.
Pulling it apart does take a specific technique, but it only took me a few times to figure it out to be able to do it smoothly and cleanly. At first I was worried about opening it wildly and disconnecting the case & keyboard, but in the year I had the old case, I’ve never had that happen and this new case feels even more secure. I now am able to open it quickly and flip it over to write on it tablet-style, or continue opening it and latching it netbook-style in a matter of moments.
Because of the rotation on the connection point, you can use the case in multiple ways:Keyboard folded back against the back of the iPad (tablet mode) – makes for a good angle for viewing if on a table/surface (as opposed to held in your hands)Keyboard down on the table, iPad in landscape mode facing frontKeyboard down on the table, iPad in portrait modeKeyboard down on the table, iPad flipped BACKWARDS which makes for a great movie/display mode
A welcome addition to the 2.0 version of the Airbender is that the rotation of the iPad when connected to the keyboard is now ‘notched’ so that it locks into place in 45-degree increments. I’m not sure that I would need the diagonal placement, but I do welcome being able to ‘lock’ the iPad into a display mode in either horizontal or vertical mode regardless of the direction of the base – very nice improvement!
There are magnets in the frame of the keyboard to activate the sleep function of the iPad, but you do have to make sure you’ve rotated the iPad the correct way. If you don’t, the iPad doesn’t sleep. At first I thought this was a design flaw, until I needed to be able to close the iPad and make sure it did NOT go to sleep, and I was thankful for this feature!
There are good bumpers to make sure the keys don’t hit the iPad, and in all my daily usage I’ve never contacted the screen of the iPad with the keyboard. There also also some nice rubber ‘feet’ on the bottom of the keyboard, so that open or closed, the case isn’t going to move unless you want it to.
The case is very sturdy in terms of holding the iPad still. There didn’t seem to be too much wobble to it, especially when it was ‘locked’ into the typing mode.
They keyboard is a standard small-ish keyboard. There’s really no way to make the keyboard larger unless you…
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