Ever since getting my iPad 3 I have used and been completely satisfied with the Skech Porter cover I got to protect it. The Skech Porter provides complete front and back protection, has a multi-position stand, a hand strap and gives access to all of the ports and controls. It is more than attractive and I have gotten many wishful glances and comments from other iPad users who have seen it. Given my A+ rating to the Skech Porter, I was excited to get my hands on the their new Skech Blueboard at the recent 2013 CES.
The Blueboard is a portfolio type case that provides for full body protection of the iPad. As with the Porter, it also provides a magnetic wake/sleep function, a multi-position stand and access to all of the iPad ports and controls. The big addition to this case is a detachable wireless Bluetooth keyboard. This was a feature that I was looking forward to as I currently carry an Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard in an Incase Origami cover stand case. While this has worked well for me, I was attracted to the opportunity the Blueboard would give to have everything within one cover.
Upon removing the Blueboard from its packaging, I was struck that I had seen this case before. It was almost identical to the Qmadix Portfolio with Removable Bluetooth Keyboard case that my partner had gotten a year earlier for his older iPad. The only seeming difference was some slightly different iPad function keys on the keyboard. Beyond that these cases are identical (the earlier Qmadix has a slightly different multi-position stand). The current Qmadix sells for $129.99 at qmadixonline.com and the Skech sells for $149.95 through the Skech Official Webstore on Amazon.com.
The Blueboard portfolio case is well made and constructed with an attractive leather type of outer surface and a soft interior lining. It is nicely stitched and exudes a similar high level of quality that I have found in my Porter case. The iPad slips nicely into a stitched enclosure that securely keeps the device in place. At the top there is a flap that folds down around the iPad and into the case that keeps the device from slipping out. Given the snug fit this is not really a worry at all.
The removable wireless Bluetooth keyboard was very easy to pair with my iPad. The keyboard is secured in the case by magnets that keep it from slipping out. A magnetic strap that also doubles as the multi-position stand holds the portfolio case together. The strap has a snap that can go into one of three different positions that position the iPad from being straight up and down along with two different titled angles. I found the best angle for me was to use the middle snap position.
I enjoyed the special iPad function keys at the top of the keyboard. This was a great addition over the Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard that I have been currently using.
The biggest drawback for me was the size of the keys. I have large hands with big fingers and found the keyboard difficult to use. It was hard to position my hands on the correct keys and I found the plastic keys a bit slippery to use. In particular the right hand shift key is very small.
A friend of mine has a Zagg case with a built in wireless Bluetooth keyboard and I find the layout and sizing of the keys to be much better. The individual letter keys are about the same size, but other keys are sized differently to give the Zagg keyboard more of a feel similar to using the Apple wireless keyboard. The Blueboard keys are flat, while the keys on the Apple and Zagg are raised. This makes a big difference for those of us with larger fingers.
Summary and Rating
The Skech Blueboard portfolio case is attractive and carries the same high quality construction and materials that is found in other Skech products. It holds the iPad securely and gives it good protection. The inclusion of a keyboard is a nice feature that provides the user with both an iPad protective case and a removable portable keyboard all in one unit. The fact that the keyboard can be removed makes it useful as a portable keyboard that one can use with other devices where a keyboard is useful. The keyboard is easy to pair with the iPad using Bluetooth. It comes with a micro USB cable for charging the keyboard. The cable does carry a noticeable warning tag that cautions the user about not using the Apple iPad power adapter as it can damage the keyboard. Instead you are to use your computer, a USB port or any USB power adapter with a maximum 4V, 500mA rating to charge the keyboard.
The negatives for this product are the sizing of the function keys and the flat slippery keyboard surface. It makes it very difficult know what keys your fingers are positioned on and makes for numerous typing errors. This is even truer with a person such as myself with large fingers. I found typing on this keyboard to be frustrating to the point of not wanting to use it anymore. The one other negative was the strap to hold the portfolio in place. It was not either long enough to hit the magnetized surface of the cover or was defective in some manner as it popped up and did nothing to hold the two outer covers of the portfolio together.
Our rating for the Blueboard for the new iPad is a 7 out of 10 (C+).