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?
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.
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.