Review and giveaway: the Touchtype case for iPad and Apple keyboard

I spend a lot of time thinking about iPad keyboards. It’s a sickness.

I recently got a Logitech Keyboard Cover which I had heard good things about. While it’s good for a keyboard with compact keys, it’s exactly that: good for a keyboard with compact keys.

For me, a compact keyboard is fine for an email response or short blog post or Tweet or one of those fill-out-your-own-prescription online places not that I’d know what those are what are you insinuating? But when I’m writing — really writing, like I am now did you see that hysterical joke about online prescriptions I just made? — the last thing I want to be doing is struggling to find the semicolon key.

And that’s what these compact keyboards force you to do. They force you to either relearn their pattern (Ha! Like I’m going to relearn something at my age!) or get caught up every time you want to use one of the keys they’ve deemed less important.

I don’t want to do that. Words come hard enough sometimes without my keyboard tripping me up. Would you ask a beautiful gazelle to bound effortlessly through a bog? Would you?! Of course not! Then why would you do the same to my beautiful words?!

So, once again, I find my iPad keyboard of choice for serious writing to be the Apple Wireless Keyboard.

Smart. Professional. Fancy.

Smart. Professional. Fancy.

Last spring I linked to a Kickstarter for an iPad case that also holds the Apple Wireless Keyboard, the Touchtype. At WWDC the Kickstarter project owner, Salman Sajid, was kind enough to give me a pre-release model which I’ve been using regularly since then. Now he’s fulfilled all his Kickstarter orders (including mine) and has opened his website for general orders. For the next four days, you can get free shipping on either the black leather version ($99) or the gray polyurethane version ($49). (Please note that from here on I’m only talking about the leather version as I haven’t seen, smelled or licked the polyurethane version.)

Short story: if you’ve settled on the iPad and the Apple Wireless Keyboard as your go-to combination, the Touchtype is a great-looking and useful option that smells terrific (offer void for polyurethane version). Let’s face it, if you’ve picked the iPad and the Apple keyboard already, your options for a stylish carrying solution are limited. As far as I know, this is the only folio case designed to hold both and bags that hold the two while minimizing space are few and far between.

But the good news is, Sajid has designed a nice case.

The $99 Touchtype is made of soft leather on the outside and lined with suede, against which the iPad is held by elastic straps. In general, I’m not fond of elastic straps for securing the iPad, but there’s an inherent problem with building a case for both the iPad and the Apple Wireless Keyboard. Because the Apple keyboard is wider than the iPad, the only two options other than straps are a leather sleeve or one of those plastic frames. The frames are horrible and the sleeves don’t allow the iPad to be held in either portrait or landscape when the case is open like the Touchtype does.

The strap in question

Remember, I’m proceeding from the assumption the Apple Wireless Keyboard is a prerequisite, because that’s where I am in my personal growth. I hope you can respect that and be happy for me. Personally, I don’t mind these straps because they’re less obtrusive than the straps on other cases I’ve seen.

Unlike some keyboard cases, the Touchtype doesn’t open into a position in which the keyboad is ready to use. The keyboard is stored in the case by sliding it into a compartment behind the iPad on the inside up to the base of its battery compartment. There’s probably a sexual metaphor one could go for here but I won’t employ it. It’s a snug fit, but you get the knack of it after a few tries. (Again, declining the sexual metaphor.) There are also two elastic straps that hold the keyboard in place and we’re moving on now.

To provide support when opened, the edge of the cover of the Touchtype fits into a hard leather flap. The Touchtype is meant to be used standing inclined 15 degrees from vertical. It can also be used lying 15 degrees inclined from flat, but it’s not really designed for that and will sometimes slip down, particularly when you tap on the iPad. The case works well enough if you want to just fold the cover back and use the iPad, too, but you probably would never carry it without the keyboard in it as there would be too much loose material.

The clasp and flap

The clasp and flap

I should note that the box it comes in is nice. I know you Apple nerds like a nice box aaand I’m doing it again.

The tradeoff with this case is that with an iPad and the Apple keyboard in it it’s almost three pounds (2.99 pounds to be exact with my 3rd generation iPad). My 11-inch MacBook Air is only 2.38 pounds. But, of course, that’s without a case. If you’re planning on throwing one or the other in a backpack that already offers protection — one with a dedicated laptop sleeve, for example — the Touchtype weighs more. If you’re carrying it alone, though, it’ll probably be roughly the same as an 11-inch Air in something that provides the same level of protection.

But it’s not just about weight. It’s about what you’re choosing to carry around. I have an 11-inch Air, but often the iPad and keyboard in the Touchtype just makes more sense, particularly as my iPad has a 4G connection. Also, as Jason Snell has opined, the iPad is often a better tool for serious writing than a Mac.



The cost of an Apple keyboard plus a leather Touchtype is $168 ($118 for an Apple keyboard and a polyurethane Touchtype). There are certainly cheaper keyboard case solutions, but they all have compact keys. I don’t want to live in that world, even if it does have zeppelins.

Well, zeppelins…

No. No. Not even for zeppelins.

I’ve had the Touchtype about 8 months and have used it fairly extensively and it’s aged like leather does. The outside is roughed up a bit, but not a lot, and there’s a bit of wearing at the corners which are squared off and not reinforced in any way. Leather’s supposed to wear and I think it gives it some personality, like a wallet or a jacket. Or a cow.

A lot of this depends on what you’ve chosen as your writing setup. If you’re OK with tiny keys, then this probably isn’t for you. Also, this solution doesn’t provide a weight advantage over an 11-inch Air if you’d rather take your Mac. But it’s a smart-looking way to carry around an iPad and an Apple keyboard, which is a great writing combination on its own. It almost makes me wish I still worked in an office so I could walk around with it ha-ha OK, not really, I’d never go back to that life, but it’s a nice-looking case.

Now for the giveaway. As I said, I paid for a case through the Kickstarter, but Sajid gave me a pre-release version. My paid-for black leather case has now arrived and so I’m only getting what I paid for, it could be yours. (I’ll front the shipping inside the continental U.S., but outside that you’ll have to PayPal me the shipping if you win.) I hate making people debase themselves through social media (unless it’s super hot), so if you’re interested in a chance to win this case, I’m giving you some plausible cover. Just @-reply to the Very Nice Web Site Twitter feed with the words “Please stop ruining John Gruber’s podcast.” That’s right, exactly that. No substitutions, please. I’ll pick a winner at random from the people who reply. Get your @-replies in by, I dunno, Wednesday 2/20 at noon Pacific.

Of course, I’m not sure how I’m going to tell entrants from those who tell me on a daily basis to stop ruining John Gruber’s podcast, but I’ll work that out somehow.