Adonit Writer Plus keyboard for iPad review

The Adonit Writer Plus Bluetooth keyboard provides portable, protective productivity for your iPad

I first had the pleasure of trying out Adonit's Writer for iPad, then one of the newest, thinnest Bluetooth keyboards for iPad, at Macworld 2012. And it was impressive. There are several variations of these designs on the market, however, so light and thin as it is, is it still impressive enough?

Adonit Writer keyboard for iPad review

In the Adonit Writer Plus box you'll find the keyboard and case themselves, as well as a welcome pamphlet, and the micro-USB cable for charging. You can charge via Windows or Mac PC, or with a power adapter (like the one that came with your iPhone or iPad).

The Adonit Writer Plus for iPad is more than just a Bluetooth keyboard. It includes a shell case to protect your iPad when it's closed and to prop it up at a convenient angle for typing when open. The case itself is composed of a strong plastic frame with a thin rubberized exterior and and a soft suede interior. That lets it keep out the scrapes and bumps of the cruel world while coddling your iPad and wrists at the same time.

The keyboard portion of the Adonit Writer Plus is aluminum front and back with black plastic trim and island-style keys. You can get that aluminum in silver, red, or blue, which is nice. It attaches to the sturdy case hinge but can also be separated with a pull. That gives it far greater flexibility and allows for more use cases than a permanently attached keyboard.

The front of the Adonit Writer Plus functions like an Apple Smart Cover, magnetically sleeping or waking your iPad when open or closed. However, because the keyboard gets sandwiched between the case cover and the iPad screen, it didn't prove as consistently reliable. Those same magnets are what allow you to position the Write Plus at a convenient typing angle -- once open, you simply slide the keyboard down towards the edge of the cover and the magnets keep it in place.

Because the case is part of the structure, you don't have to remove your iPad from it and slot it into place like you do with some other keyboards. That keeps it more tightly secure and makes it less likely to get bumped or jostled out of place. It does mean it takes a second longer or two, and a little more effort, to remove the iPad from the Writer Plus.

Pairing is a little more complicated with the Writer Plus as well. First, the power switch is on the bottom of the keyboard, so you have to open the case and flip the keyboard back over the iPad to find it. Then it's so deeply recessed as to be very difficult to actually switch. There's a pin hole so you can use a tool to help you, but it really should be much, much easier. Second, the Writer Plus requires a pin be typed into the keyboard for it to pair, which I like, but additional security always comes at the cost of convenience.

iPad sized, the Adonit Write Plus keyboard can't also be full sized. It's smaller than a MacBook Air and closer to a small netbook keyboard. It is done in the Apple chicklet style, however, the keys have a much easier feel to them (except for the space bar, which is stiffer.)

Unlike some other brands, the Adonit Writer Plus has a full set of function keys across the top -- F1 to F12 -- in addition to dedicated Home and Lock keys on either end. The function keys do primary duty as Spotlight Search, Photos, show/hide Keyboard, cut, copy, paste, skip back, play/pause, skip forward, mute, volume down, and volume up.

There are also alt/option, ctrl, cmd, and arrow keys, and the iPad supports a lot of typical text editing commands and conventions, so keyboard shortcutters will feel right at home.

Adonit promises 2 weeks of battery life on a full charge, based on "normal use". They don't clarify what they consider "normal use", so it'll take us a while and a lot of tests to figure that out. However, it's lasted over a week on a couple of hours of use a day so far, and shows no signs of waning yet.

The good

  • Very thin and light
  • Includes protective case
  • Keyboard can detach from case allowing for more options
  • Dedicated function key row

The bad

  • Power switch is very difficult to switch

The bottom line

After having used the Adonit Writer Plus for a little over the week -- including to write this review -- I remain broadly happy with it. It's not the full sized typing experience of the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (paired with Origami), and it's not the incredibly sleek, if case-less package of the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.

It's something decidedly in the middle -- much easier and better packaged case and keyboard combo that may not be the thinnest possible solution but is the thinner possible solution that includes the security a full case. There's no such things as the best of both worlds, but the Adonit Writer Plus keyboard is the best balance of the two, and that's going to appeal to a lot of users.

$99.99 - Buy now

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Adonit Writer Plus keyboard for iPad review

12 Comments

Thanks for this review, Rene!
I recently returned my Zagg Folio case for my iPad 3: poor build quality, only one position for viewing, and very difficult to get the iPad in and out of it.
I just received the Logitech "Solar Keyboard Folio" and I'm not happy with it, either. It does have a second position for the iPad other than for typing, but the case does not snap or stay shut! I also would like another, lower angle of viewing position.
So, this Adonit Writer case looks interesting. Does the case stay/lock shut when not in use? The Zagg and Logitech keyboard keys were annoyingly close together. How does the Adonit compare to those--I know it's not as big as a laptop, but I don't how a netbook keyboard compares to iPad keyboards. And how many positions can you put the iPad in--how low does it go?
Thanks!

I notice that when you slip in the iPad in the case, and when the case closes the keyboard touches the iPad screen when closed. isn't there a possibility of the keyboard scratching the iPad screen that way ?

Are you serious?!? The iPad screen is incredibly tough. Plenty resistant enough to be immune from scratching from plastic keyboard keys. Apple talked about the glass around the iPhone 4 intro, iirc, and it's like a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Basically, only sand/grit and diamond have a chance of scratching the screen.

JR's comment aboout "serious" is rather demeaning, and scratches are a concern given tme and not knwoing what all will be on aperson's fingertips when swipting (especially whne "borrowed for a minute".
I note fine scratches int he surface of our ipad whneheld at a reflective angle, and it is only 6 weeeks old. I put a sceen protector on it just in case. Looks not so great but we'll see how this goes.
I do not have the Wrtier case yet - testing ZAGGFOLIO due to avialbility local to home. IT seems OK for clerances of the keys when closed but I do not like the limited cursor and selection jumps - chracter or end of line but not by word. I do not know if the Writer has this problem. The FAGG is better than the touch screen but not as good as logitech shortcuts. Lgitech's ultra case is the best look and keyboard I have found but it does not stay shut so you need a separate closure (bag or elastic band) - and th's not as convenient as the Zaggfolio or Writer or some other set-ups. None are perfect ut Zagg is nice overall thus far.

I aoplogize for the sometimes humorous mistypes - bumped submit before I meant to send the mesage iin. FAGG is ZAGG, and overall I hope readers can figure out what the other words should be....

I aoplogize for the sometimes humorous mistypes - bumped submit before I meant to send the message in. FAGG is ZAGG, and overall I hope readers can figure out what the other words should be....

Time to do a shootout review comparing it to the Clamcase, Crux360 case as well as a few of the Belkin and Logitech options.

I have one of these keyboards, and I'm pretty happy with it. I bought it right before a very intensive week long road trip, where I would be using the iPad while in the passenger seat of a very small car. It worked great, and never let me down all week.
I don't really understand the reviewer's complaint about the power button. The keyboard shuts off on its own, so in over a month of use, I've never touched that button. I assume it's for when you're putting the keyboard away for an extended period. There's a pairing button on the front, which is easy to reach. But even that is generally never used. The keyboard wakes and pairs automatically, when the iPad wakes.
In that month, I've charged the keyboard twice. Once when I got it, and once about two weeks later. Neither time did the keyboard indicate that it needed a charge, I just thought it was probably about time. This time around, I'll probably let it go until it dies, and see how long that takes. The usb cable I got seems a bit on the fragile side, and it uses a really small micro connector. If it breaks, I don't have an immediate replacement.
The magnetic system means that you have basically an infinite adjustment of angle, within the range that the magnets can grip the keyboard. You just slide it back and forth until you find the angle you like. I'd guess the useful range is between about 30 and 80 degrees, but I didn't measure it.
I think the case has a fine balance between staying shut, and being easy to open. When I first got it, I found it a bit fiddly to get open and adjusted, but after using it for a few days, it became much easier.
Over the last month, the case has travelled a lot, and shows a bit of wear from that travel. But it has done a great job of protecting the iPad, so that's a decent tradeoff for me. The corners of the keyboard that contact the glass have left no marks on it. They are a softer, flexible plastic.
At first I didn't think that the iPad could be used in portrait orientation with this setup, and it's certainly not designed for it. But you can remove the iPad from the case, and rest it in portrait mode. It's just not very stable in that position. Fine on a table or desk, but not on your lap.
The downsides for me: The right shift key is very small, and is right next to the up-arrow key. So I often miss the shift key, and move the cursor instead. I'm getting better, but it's still a bit of an issue.
Also, the lock button is right above the delete key. On occasion, I lock the iPad instead of pressing delete.
Finally, the charging port opening is a hair on the narrow side. The Apple camera connection kit does not fit in that space.
All in all, I think this is a fine iPad keyboard. I was interested in trying the Logitech units, but they were not available when I needed to place my order.

Hey W., thanks so much for taking the time to write your review! You seem to have answered my one outstanding question: the ability to adjust the angle of the iPad for viewing. If I'm reading you right, you can slide it down over the keyboard when you want to view it at various "flat" angles and you're not going to do any typing. Is that correct? Thanks!

Martin,
The Adonit allows you to adjust the angle by sliding the keyboard along the bottom cover of the case. There's a strip of magnets in the case, and magnets in the keyboard. So you can adjust the angle, but it does not impede typing with the keyboard. You can also remove the keyboard completely, and still adjust the angle, as there are also magnets in the tab that the keyboard attaches to. If you haven't watched the video, I'd do that... it does a decent job of showing you how it works.

I'v used a Clamcase since shortly after the iPad 1 was released. I upgraded to the iPad 2 and a new Clamcase. The keyboard is ok, if a little too small, given the form factor of the iPad, but the main use of the Clamcase is to protect the iPad while it is in my backpack, and act as a stand for reading books, movies, and pictures. All three iPads fit securely into their Clamcase and are still easy to remove as well.
I'm a satisfied user, not a representative of Clamcase. I have heard little or nothing from any Clamcase representative. They don't seem to try to use media to promote their product at all.