Typo Innovations has had a rough time. After launching a keyboard case for the iPhone 5 and 5S in 2014 (backed by none other than media impresario Ryan Seacrest), the company was sued by BlackBerry for patent infringement and was forced to pull the case from the market. A year later, Typo followed up with a case for the iPhone 6 that, surprise, also resulted in a lawsuit from BlackBerry. Since then, Typo and BlackBerry have settled their disagreements, with Typo more or less conceding defeat. The company can no longer sell keyboards for smartphones or devices with screens smaller than 7.9 inches.
But Typo isn’t done yet. Days after the settlement with BlackBerry was announced, the company released a new product for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2: a $189 Bluetooth keyboard case that complies with the restrictions set forth by the settlement (as in, it’s not for a phone). A version of the Typo Keyboard for the iPad mini is also planned.
The Typo keyboard case for the iPhone was not very good. It blocked important parts of the phone, such as the home key; the keys were not particularly easy to type on; and it just didn’t work well with iOS on a smartphone, which was never designed to be used with a physical keyboard attachment. Fortunately, Typo for iPad is a much better product: it’s very similar to the many other keyboard cases available, and lets you type more quickly and more accurately than with the iPad’s on-screen keyboard.
The similarities to Microsoft's Surface are undeniable
If Typo for the iPhone was obviously inspired by BlackBerry’s smartphone keyboards, it appears that Typo for iPad draws its inspiration from Microsoft’s Surface. The case is comprised of two sections: the stand that holds the iPad and a detachable keyboard that talks to the iPad over Bluetooth. The case / stand lets you position the iPad at any angle, just like the Surface Pro 3, and the keyboard section’s magnetic attachment is very similar to what Microsoft uses. The case itself is made well, and the kickstand is a large piece of metal, which has the unfortunate downside of making the whole thing rather heavy.
The keyboard’s flush square keys are just like the Surface keyboard’s as well, providing a very similar typing experience. I prefer more separation between the keys, but typing on the Typo isn’t terrible, and I was able to get to a decently quick typing speed after using it for a few minutes. (I also used it to write this article.) Typing with the Typo on a lap is very similar to a Surface as well, meaning it’s a bit precarious and not particularly comfortable. The keyboard section isn’t very stable and likes to disconnect from the case at the slightest disturbance. It’s best on a flat surface such as a table or desk.
The Typo’s similarities to the Surface probably aren’t enough to warrant a lawsuit from Microsoft — the stand’s design is different from Microsoft’s and the magnetic attachment for the keyboard doesn’t actually make it talk to the iPad — but it’s hard to deny how close they are. Throw in a trackpad that’s too small below the keyboard and even the most seasoned gadget heads would have trouble telling them apart.
At nearly $200, it's hard to recommend the Typo to anyone
At nearly $200, it’s hard to recommend the Typo to anyone: the keyboard market for the iPad is fiercely competitive, and there are many options that are just as good, if not better, at much lower price points. Typo’s first product was fraught with issues, and obviously borrowed too many ideas from BlackBerry, but it was unique in the market. Nobody before had attempted to make a vertical keyboard case for the iPhone, even though many people had complained about the touchscreen typing experience. But with Typo for iPad, the company is attempting something that a lot of other companies are already doing, and charging quite a bit more at the same time. Typo may be out of the courtroom, but it’s hard to see how this keyboard is going to put it into the boardrooms and living rooms of iPad users across the world.
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