So you’re thinking about picking up one of those newfangled mobile tablets thangs… but you’re worried that you won’t be able to write the great American Novel using the on-screen keyboard on an iPad or Android tablet. Not to worry. Plenty of companies are cranking out keyboard accessories, including a few that are built right into a carrying case, killing two birds with one stone (and no, those birds aren’t necessarily named thin and light).

Here are two new keyboard cases on the radar today:

Crux360 Case for the iPad

The Crux360 might be the best looking keyboard case I’ve seen for the iPad so far. It appears to have a nice sturdy keyboard, offers decent protection for the tablet, and also functions as an iPad stand in “movie mode” even when you don’t need the keyboard. You can check out a video of this $150 accessory in action after the break.

ViewSonic Viewpad 10 keyboard case

UMPC Portal got an early look at a new accessory for the ViewSonic ViewPad 10 Android tablet. It appears to be a leather or synthetic leather case with a Bluetooth keyboard built-in.

Of course, some folks will claim that these keyboards effectively turn a tablet into a netbook — but that depends on your definition of netbook. If you really only want a device that will let you get online and surf the web, then yup, you’re all set. If you want to be able to run a desktop operating system and desktop apps on the go, then you’re still better off with a netbook or thin and light computer. Just adding a keyboard isn’t going to give you those capabilities.

On the other hand, a keyboard will certainly make text input a lot easier on tablets and slates with mobile operating systems. And when you don’t need to use the keyboard, you don’t have to. You can just pick up the tablet and use the touchscreen as Jobs intended.

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3 replies on “The best of both worlds? More tablet keyboard case accessories”

  1. Make no mistake about it. If you want the “best of both worlds” then you want a convertible, not this. I say this as a person who does not like convertibles (as I’ve motioned previously). In fact, these solutions aren’t very good because they do little more than imitate clamshell designs. Clamshell designs are the way they are because of design constraints that carry with them some undesirable side-effects. These designs don’t face the same constraints but offer the same negative side-effects. Of course, nobody said these were well designed (and I wonder what it says about on-screen text entry if poorly designed external keyboards are seen as a good thing. Just kidding. I know. It’s a usability nightmare and a horrific negative experience, but that makes me the jerk for refuting the whole “fun and cool” marketing chants with common sense and industry research).

    A convertible offers a clamshell mode and a slate mode, and it makes compromises to each to accommodate the other. However, those compromises are more or less balanced (in reality, it’s biased towards the clamshell mode). A slate setup with an external keyboard gives you a better slate mode than a convertible but a worse clamshell mode because, after all, you’re just adding accessories to something designed to work as a pure slate. So, if you really are a slate first type of person then a setup up like this is a better fit for you.

    That said, the biggest disadvantage to a setup like this is that’s a huge nuisance. With a convertible, you can crank around the keyboard, fire off some text, and get back into slate mode in a matter of seconds. In the time it takes to finish a quick text entry job with the keyboard of a convertible, you haven’t even gotten your external keyboard connected up and recognized with a slate. It’s just not very convenient for quick uses, which is somewhat ironic because slates are really about convenience and flexible use.

    However, there is an advantage that an external keyboard offers (that none of these solutions get right). A clamshell is NOT ergonomic. For a healthy setup, your monitor needs to be up at your head and your keyboard needs to be down around your gut. Unless you’re very small, this isn’t going to happen with most clamshells, especially 10 inch ones. However, as long as you don’t do something dumb and touch the bottom edge of your screen to the back edge of your keyboard, you can overcome this problem (see how these solutions all get it wrong?) So even though an external keyboard is not that good for short-time use, for long term use it’s actually much better than a traditional clamshell like a full-size laptop. For example, even though I’m a standing worker, I have an elevated stand (a portable easel) that I use at some coffee shops to get my screen up to the correct height for proper posture. If you’re going to have a keyboard, you might as well use it to solve all text entry problems rather than just substitute one (the on screen keyboard) for another (the unergonomic placement of a clamshell keyboard).

    1. Well, when being mobile there are usually compromises for any solution and not everyone can carry all the equipment they would need for proper ergonomic positions to be observed properly all the time.

      So for most people such solutions are the best they can do and is why they are considered good from that perspective. But for those willing to carry extra there are some solutions…

      Like this,

      Though most people are limited to none mobile solutions like docking stations, etc…

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