For those of you using iPads, especially iPad Pros, what’s your set-up? I’m going to describe my current desk and lap set-ups and follow that with a few keyboard case and stand options I’m considering.
Currently I use the 2018 12.9” in a Smart Keyboard Portfolio when I’m away from my desk. If I’m at the desk I add a Magic Trackpad 2 and plug into a raised external monitor at eye level. The larger display gives my eyes a rest and overall just provides a nice change from the casual slouching I often do when away from the desk. It’s a simple set-up but it works well.
Overall I’m happy with the Smart Keyboard Portfolio as it is fairly stable when used away from the desk, it’s super light and thin and keeps the iPad close to the keys which means very easy swiping and tapping without the feeling that I’m reaching up and away too much. It’s a compact set-up. While it only offers two angles those two angles work very well for me. Also, the keyboard folds behind the iPad if I want to use the iPad as a tablet. When I want to remove it it’s easy to remove.
But the downsides, no backlighting and no function keys, have me considering other options. Also, it’s my second unit and it’s starting to fall apart just as the first one did. It’s wrinkling and the material over the hinge is falling off, so that’s a big drawback.
Keyboard case options
I’ve mostly ruled out Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad due to the cost, use of same material that (in my experience) will start to fall apart after a year, weight, and lack of function keys.
Brydge Max+, new keyboard from Brydge that solves my primary complaint about previous designs: the hinge. With the new design the iPad is magnetically attached to a flat back which removes the two hinge stress points and makes it much easier to attach or detach the iPad. Has the new improved trackpad which by all accounts is almost equal to Apple’s implementation thanks to firmware changes. Has backlighting and function row.
Drawbacks: Weight and due to the design it pushes the iPad glass further back from the hands. It’s not much but it’s enough that reaching for the glass for interactions becomes a bit more tiresome. It feels like a commitment to laptop form factor and the trackpad interaction model. Also, it’s Bluetooth though frankly, I don’t see that as a big problem, just not ideal.
Currently thinking this is my top choice for a keyboard case.
Logitech Combo Touch, the new offering (only compatible with the 2021 iPad Pro at the 12.9” size) that also has a trackpad, backlighting, function keys and a smart connector. This has the added benefit/drawback of a protective case. A safer iPad, more bulk. A great feature: keyboard is detachable or can be folded back behind the case for handheld use.
The biggest drawback here is that it looks like use in the lap becomes really cumbersome with the case design relying on a fold-down kickstand giving it a really deep (front to back) footprint.
At the moment I don’t actually need a stand because when I’m at the desk and plugged into the external display I just keep my eyes up on the display. However, if Apple releases proper 2nd display support that goes beyond simple mirroring this would change and I would plan on using a stand with the iPad elevated. The Kensington dock is nice but way too expensive for my budget. I’ll either keep using my current stand or, more likely, look for something with easier adjustability and greater height and possible forward adjustment.
This magnetic stand from Lululook is very promising in terms of easy attachment, easy rotation from portrait to landscape and easy angle adjustment. It may not have the vertical height I’d want. Another possibility is the new twelvesouth HoverBar Duo which lacks the magnetic attachment but has much better height adjustment and forward adjustment as well.