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First Impressions of the Hatch & Co. SKINNT Ipad 2 keyboard case


iPF Novice
May 15, 2010
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Chicago, IL
I got this today and fired it up and thought I'd give my initial impressions.

The first impression was that the case looks and feels cheap for $90; the leather has the slick, shiny feel of vinyl and the internal structure has the feel of molded cardboard. In the pursuit of their thin/light design brief, the iPad is lightly gripped by prongs along the sides; they don't look very secure, but they've proven to hold the iPad well. The inside of the lid where the iPad is housed has a soft "mouse fur" lining that shouldn't harm it. There are the usual cut-outs for speakers, buttons and cameras. The hinge of the case is a dark gray, in contrast to the black for a two-tone look - I'd have preferred all one color.

The keyboard is as thin as advertised - it's essentially a plastic wafer. Rather than the graduated color scheme, where each row grows darker, I wish they'd gone with different shades for different functions - one shade for letters, one for function keys, another for various options; that would have been functional as well as aesthetic. Some key placement is odd, like the apostrophe and double-quotes on the bottom row. It also takes a while to get the hang of the multi-function key combos like Command+shift+^, but I suppose that will come with practice.

As for keyboard itself: that was a surprise - though its flat aspect makes you think it will be about as good as the iPad's on-screen keyboard, it took only a few paragraphs to get a good feel for the action of the keys and build up decent speed and accuracy. Leaving the sound effects on provides additional feedback and helped me catch missed keystrokes, but with practice I suspect I'll gradually wean myself from that crutch, partly out of necessity - it would be pretty annoying in meetings.

Downsides are: the section at the top of the keyboard is considerably thicker than the keyboard itself - it seems almost as thick as the iPad, an impression amplified by the leather covering it. When the screen is upright, the angle isn't adjustable and the screen hides the status keys so you can't see how much power you've got remaining or if CAPS LOCK is on. The screen angle also means using the case to type on your lap isn't easy, and there's the complication of the iPad making the "laptop mode" too top heavy to be stable while working. And note, you'll also need to keep the box it comes in - the only instructions for the idiosyncratic keyboard layout and everything else are printed on the back. And while there’s a button with a Globe on it to indicate an International keyboard capable of accents, umlauts, and foreign currency symbols, I see nothing about how it works.

Is it truly skinny? The thickness of the top area of the keyboard (likely the battery) makes it feel thick at the hinge and prevents the cover from laying completely flat, but it might break in over time. It's not "wow" skinny to me, but then again it's not a lot thicker than my iPad one in the Apple case and fits in the pocket of my briefcase easily enough.

Overall, I find the device usable, if not spectacular, and somewhat poorly finished for the $100 price, though I'd be less critical if I'd found it for half that, as some have.

Here's a brief video of the device:
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