iPad + Origami
Originally published at okedition.org
Recently there’s been a lot of chatter about how some writers are switching their two computer desktop + laptop setup, to a desktop + iPad setup. Never having owned a laptop myself, I’ve rolled this way since I bought the first generation iPad in August of 2010. An iMac for the desk, and the iPad for on the go and laying around the house.1
If you want to get the most out of your iPad, more important than any syncing app or writing tool, is an external keyboard. As good as iOS’s software keyboard is, it doesn’t nearly cut it. To bang out anything more than a few paragraphs without want to dash your head against a wall, you’re going to need a real keyboard.
There are all kinds of big ugly folio keyboard cases and even a few sleek clamshell style ones. But every one automatically fails because of one simple thing; they’re trying to turn the iPad into a laptop, which is just short of blasphemy.
With an iPad I don’t always need or want the external keyboard like with a computer, so there’s no reason why I’d always want one attached to my iPad. I want my iPad to be an iPad when using it, and only when I want to sit down and write is it time to bust out the keyboard.
For this I use the Apple Wireless Keyboard along with the Incase Origami Workstation. The Origami is a little black cover that looks and feels a lot like the original Apple iPad case, except made to wrap around a keyboard. It’s a rather simple case, but feels nice and is solidly built.
When not in use the Origami turns the AWK into an inconspicuous black slab, slightly longer and skinnier than an iPad. When in use, the case folds up into a stand, using the back of the keyboard as leverage to cradle the iPad in either landscape or portrait.
The iPad isn’t locked down or secured in any way, but it never felt like it was about fall out. You can rest the Origami easily enough on your lap but I prefer to type with it on a desk. However, when I am forced to set it on my lap, I place the smart cover underneath for a little extra stability.
Really the only major flaw in the Origami’s design is the Velcro straps used to fasten the case shut and keep it propped up. The straps are bulky, ugly and often snag on things going in and out of the bag. Even worse, they don’t hold together as well as they first did. I’ll often pull the Origami out of my bag with one or both of the straps hanging loose.
But even so, the case stays shut and the keyboard stays protected, which is just as important as the stand part, as the keyboard is not in use way more often than in use.
The only other real downside to the Origami is its size and weight. An iPad + Origami takes up about as much space as a MacBook Air, and carrying around a keyboard everywhere contradicts the portability of the iPad. The beauty of this setup though is being able to leave the keyboard tucked away, or even at home, when it’s unneeded. In cramped areas it’s much easier to pull out and use an iPad than it is a laptop.
Overall using the Origami has been great, but it’s a kind of good that leaves you with the taste of ash your mouth. And that’s because of the severe lack of keyboard support. At times it can feel like you’re fighting against the OS when using the iPad and an external keyboard. Apple seriously needs to consider giving users the same type of keyboard support we’ve become so accustomed to on OS X.3 Pretty please Apple.