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Consumer Reports tests external keyboards for tablet computers

February 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Sales of iPads topped 15 million over the Christmas holiday, more than double a year ago. If you've got a new iPad, no doubt you're finding it frustrating to type on its virtual keyboard. Consumer Reports tested five keyboards that promise to make typing easier that cost $70 to $100.

"With the keyboards we tested, the keys aren't necessarily larger than those on a tablet's touch screen," said Consumer Reports Electronics Editor Paul Reynolds. But they have real buttons you press down on to help you hit the right key.

"We found most of these keyboards have pros and cons," said Reynolds.

The Menotek keyboard is lightweight and can even be rolled up. But its small, soft keys are hard to use, and it's easy to make mistakes.

"The Rocketfish and Belkin keyboards we tested have convenient tablet-specific buttons, like 'Home' and 'Lock Screen.' And they have shortcuts to do tasks like running a slideshow," said Reynolds.

The Rocketfish keyboard also serves as a case and a stand. But at more than two pounds, it's pretty heavy. And the Belkin case is so snug that it's hard to get even the thinner iPad 2 in and out of it.

A better option is the ZAGGfolio keyboard for $100.

"It's not quite as snug a fit, and it has a versatile keyboard and handy iPad-specific buttons and shortcuts," said Reynolds.

But if you really want full-size keys, try the Apple Wireless Keyboard. At $70, it costs less than the others tested, but you'll need to pay extra for a stand and case.

Consumer Reports also tested keyboards for Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The $70 Logitech keyboard is a good choice. It's lightweight, has full-size keys and customized tablet controls.