I’ve never considered myself overly picky when it comes to physical keyboards (and I stress physical because nothing compares to Apple’s iOS virtual keyboard), but as I highlighted a few weeks back, I’ve been in search of “the perfect” keyboard to pair with my iPad. Shortly after sharing my experience, another keyboard landed on my desk – this time, from our friends at Kanex… but is this the one?
The Kanex MultiSync Foldable Mini Keyboard ($49.95 from Kanex) is a compact Bluetooth keyboard, designed to be portable and comfortable to type on. It also features quick switching, allowing you to pair up to 4 different devices, and bounce between them with the press of a button (actually, 2 buttons, but that’s a technicality).
The Kanex Foldable keyboard’s body is made of a gray “fabric,” very similar to Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Smart Covers, but with plastic keys that give reasonable feedback, and comfortable key travel. In comparison to my 12″ Retina MacBook, these keys have tangible travel, and decent feedback, but aren’t quite as poppy as those on the pre-2016 MacBook Pro/MacBook Air. All things considered, they feel decent to type on.
The layout of the keyboard, on the other hand, has caused me some trouble. First off, because of the fold design, the Kanex Foldable keyboard has a layout very similar to “ergo” keyboards, where the split in the middle is actually a small gap, and the keys angle slightly toward the center. Because of this, my hand spacing feels off, and plays tricks on my brain, occasionally slowing my key entry.
The second “issue” I have is with the design and layout of the function row. Instead of including a full function row above the number row, the function keys are printed directly onto the number keys, requiring a “fn” modifier to activate. This means using the media controls, jumping back to the home screen (without using ⌘-h), or accessing spotlight search requires the use of 2 keys. Not exactly convenient for quickly adjusting the volume or doing a quick search.
The choices as to what each function key does are also interesting, with F11 and F12 serving no purpose on iOS, while the “skip back/previous track” button is orphaned on the left side of the keyboard on F6. It’s weird.
As far as portability goes, the Kanex Foldable Mini Keyboard is pretty great. When folded, it’s about the size of a field notes notebook (think the footprint of an iPhone 7 Plus, plus an inch in width). From a thickness aspect, it’s slightly thicker than a 9.7″ iPad Air/Pro, but not as thick as two iPads. It’s pretty compact.
The fold is another unique feature with the keyboard. When folded closed, the Kanex Foldable keyboard turns off, disconnecting from your iPad, or other device, and when unfolded, it automatically pairs to the last device that was used. The fold also aids in creating the unique split/ergo keyboard design. Unfortunately, the fold also means there’s no way you’re going to use this in your lap – since there is no way to lock it “open.”
All things considered, the Kanex Foldable Mini Keyboard is a decent way to do keyboard entry on your iOS device (or Mac, I suppose). It’s small enough to fit in any backpack, satchel, or purse, and offers comfortable, consistent keying (I used it to write this very review). Unfortunately, the foldable nature of the keyboard does create some unique situations, so it may not be ideal for all use cases.
- Keys feel solid
- Great battery life
- Function/Escape keys are nested in number row
- Fold makes lap typing near-impossible
- Split/Ergo layout may be a challenge for some
If you’re in the market for a portable iPad keyboard, but don’t want something affixed to the device, the Kanex MultiSync Foldable Mini Keyboard is definitely worth considering, especially if you do most of your work at a desk, and aren’t bothered by the need for a function modifier key. At $49.95, it’s not a bad option.