Ever since I bought an iPad - my first tablet - a few weeks ago, I’ve basically been inseperable from it. The fact that I sold my laptop a while ago made my need for a more powerful portable form of entertainment than my phone a priority. Sure, I had a 3DS, but sometimes you need a bit more. But with that said, I was interested in getting a bit more functionality out of my iPad, and when I was approached with the opportunity to review the Pi Dock-It Pro, I figured “Why not?”
For the last few weeks, I’ve been using a pretty simple leather case which was light and had a few notches so I could display it at different angles. It was nice, but of course I would run into situations where the iPad would just flop over one way or the other. Upon loading my iPad into the Pi Dock-It Pro, I quickly learned a few key things:
It was much heavier, it was much nicer, and it was just as versatile - if not moreso.
Starting at the top, the Pi Dock-It Pro is a molded plastic case with a Bluetooth keyboard attachment. The case includes a dock that the iPad clips into which also swivels so that the case can display the iPad like a laptop or like a proper tablet. It’s very fancy, even if twisting the iPad around in it’s case is a bit awkward and clunky.
The fact that the iPad settles and clips into it’s place is also a wee bit unsettling. There are only a few small clips that hold my iPad secure, so making sure I close it up properly is key. The case is by no means meant to absorb much in the way of impact, so while it might survive a tumble from the nightstand to a carpeted floor, don’t expect any miracles if you lose it from your hands onto a tile or asphalt floor.
As for the weight, it’s significantly more than the first case I had, but there’s no surprise there. A simple leather case will absolutely weigh less than a hard plastic shell case with a built-in keyboard. A worthwhile sacrifice, however, as the functionality of the case in most areas is stellar.
Starting with the key feature - the keyboard. The layout of the keyboard is very familiar with a row of buttons that allow you access to the iPad’s normal features, such as brightness, volume, the Home button, and even things like cut, copy, paste, and a quick Lock button. The keys are also quite nice and springy, so hopefully they last throughout repeat use. But, end of the day, it works like a charm and feels great to type on it. In fact, I’ve typed this entire review on the Pi Dock-It Pro keyboard. It’s that good.
As for the functions of the case itself, I already mentioned the unsteady but secure clip-in process for the iPad itself. There are also adequate cut outs for headphones and a low-profile 30-pin cord. If you have one of the older, larger 30-pin cables, then it won’t fit right in the current setup, but some sacrifices must be made.
The function of maneuvering the case is pretty smooth, but spotty. The case doesn’t open like a laptop would, but slides out and then up. This isn’t a big deal and gives the iPad some lovely stability and no concerns over a standard laptop-style hinge that could wear out over time. However, this does mean that there is nothing to stop it from falling forward except for your fingers. Clearly, this is more for desktop usage, or at least very safe usage any other place.
Rotating the iPad around to display as a tablet in the case is a little awkward. While unfolded, the iPad has to be swiveled around, but it very easily clips against either the stopper in the back or rakes over the keyboard keys. Fortunately, it’s not so bad that I think the keys will be damaged, but it’s worth noting. Additionally, it charges through a provided micro USB cable, so finding a spare power outlet isn’t required.
Finally, let’s talk value. Currently, the case retails for anywhere between $130 to $160 dollars US, which puts it right on-par with many other cases that feature built-in keyboards. The cost is a bit high, but the construction of the case makes up for it. Its very well built and fits the iPad snugly. However, it should be said that the case is only compatible with iPad 2, 3 and 4. The iPad Air will not fit in this case, nor (obviously) the iPad Mini. But, when all is said and done, it’s actually a very nice option for a case with a lot of versatility and use, and the construction is very sturdy even if it has a few areas that feel strange.