Review: Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case for 12.9″ iPad Pro – a great typing experience with a few compromises

When Razer first announced its Mechanical Keyboard Case for the 12.9″ iPad Pro, I had mixed feelings about the idea. On one hand, the thought of using a true mechanical keyboard with decent key travel, real actuation, and reset points sounded glorious. On the other hand, just how good could a mechanical keyboard case for an iPad possibly be? 

To be honest, when you consider what typical mechanical keyboards look like, the whole idea seems a little absurd. Mechanical keyboards are, in general, big hulking contraptions that take up lots of space. That’s not a knock against these keyboards, as they are wonderful to type on, but it just sounds odd to think of two devices, which traditionally couldn’t be any more different in style and design, working together.

It might also seem weird to think of Razer — a company who’s best known for making PC gaming peripherals — creating an iPad accessory. Keep in mind, however, that Razer also makes PC laptops, and if you’ve seen its hardware, you know that it cares deeply about looks and design. I’ve even heard some refer to Razer as the “Apple of the PC world” — a sort of backhanded compliment about its design-focused products.


Keyboard surface design

Razer’s Mechanical Keyboard Case is, for the most part, a good-looking product with obvious nods to the current machines in its laptop line. The keyboard surface itself is one big slab of dark gray plastic that evokes thoughts of the company’s Razer Blade laptops.

You’ll find enough real estate on the keyboard surface to have an adequate amount of space to rest your wrists. The experience felt so similar to an actual laptop surface, that I found myself instinctively reaching for a non-existent trackpad.

Case and kickstand design

Razer’s Mechanical Keyboard Case consists of two parts. There’s the keyboard surface portion described above, and the case portion that the 12.9″ iPad Pro fits snugly inside of. As you would expect, the case features cutouts that keep the Lightning port, speakers, camera, and microphones free from obstruction.

While the case protects the sides of the iPad Pro via a slight lip, the top and bottom of the tablet is more or less exposed to the elements. With this in mind, don’t expect this case to fully protect your iPad Pro even when the clamshell is closed. You’ll still need to exercise care when placing it in a bag, backpack, etc.

Razer’s keyboard case features a built-in metal kickstand. The kickstand affords users a variety of viewing angles on the fly, which is better than most keyboard cases that only offer a handful of possible viewing angles.

Razer Kickstand iPad Pro

Adjusting the iPad Pro away from the user has a very laptop-like feel, because the kickstand holds the setup in place as you adjust it. Moving the iPad Pro towards the user requires that you hold the kickstand while moving the iPad forward.

The kickstand adds another moving part to the picture and can get in the way at times. You’ll need two hands to close it, and even then, it tends to want to pop out so that it doesn’t sit flush with the rest of the case. For all of its merits, using the kickstand, and especially putting it away, feels a little cumbersome.

Detachable case

If you need more extreme viewing angles, or you simply wish to use the case as a standalone stand, it’s easy to detach the keyboard portion of the setup from the case that houses the iPad. The keyboard attaches via magnets, and can thus be removed and reattached with ease. Not only does this allow for more flexible typing setups, but it also means that you can pair Razer’s mechanical keyboard with other Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Detached Razer Keyboard Case iPad Pro

Because of the strong magnets that attach the keyboard portion of the setup to the case, I found that it was possible to type with the iPad Pro in my lap. I doubt that Razer would actually recommend such a setup due to, at the very least, potential ergonomic issues, but I was able to lap type with little to no problems.

It’s a little bulky

There’s no way around the fact that once you start adding all of the parts together, Razer’s Mechanical Keyboard case is quite bulky. That’s probably why Razer opted not publish weight and dimension specs on its product website. A quick look at Amazon shows that the keyboard case weight is 2.2lbs, and the dimensions come in at 9.5 x 0.9 x 12.3 inches.

Once you have your iPad mounted inside the case, and you factor in the mechanical keyboard surface and the kickstand, it’s not hard to imagine how bulky it is. The 12.9″ iPad Pro is already a behemoth in its own right, so it shouldn’t be surprising that adding a keyboard case, a mechanical keyboard case no less, is going to add some significant bulk to the equation.

MacBook vs iPad Razer

For me personally, that kind of bulk is a deal breaker for everyday usage. But I’m also the same guy that opted to edit 4K videos on an underpowered 12″ MacBook Pro, so take my opinion in that area with a grain of salt. To be honest, save for Apple’s own Smart Keyboard + Smart Cover setup, I’m not a big fan of any of the iPad Pro keyboard cases due to how bulky they are.


Coming from a 12″ MacBook with limited key travel, Razer’s mechanical keyboard is a pleasure to type on. Don’t expect to have the same typing experience that you’d get from a full-sized mechanical keyboard, but typing on the Razer’s keyboard is a definite step up from any other iPad-centric keyboard cases that I’ve tried.

First and foremost, you get excellent key travel for an iPad keyboard case. The mechanical key switches are real key switches, albeit low-profile ones, that fit inside of a relatively thin housing.

Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case for 12.9%22 iPad Pro 6

Yet, despite the diminutive setup, there is real key actuation to be found here, and it requires a certain amount of pressure — 70 grams to be exact — to invoke each key. Mechanical key switches are what give each key press that satisfying clicky sound that makes it evident, both audibly and tactile-wise, that a key was pressed successfully.

Granted, the low-profile switches are still a far cry from the Cherry MX Brown switches that I enjoy on my full-sized mechanical keyboard for the desktop. That said, if you’re someone who does long form typing from an iPad on a regular basis, this keyboard is worth strong consideration.

Backlit keys

The Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case comes with backlit keys that feature 20 brightness levels; that’s four more than the 16 brightness levels that you’ll find on a MacBook’s keyboard. The backlight can be adjusted via two dedicated keys next to the screen brightness shortcut keys.

Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case for 12.9%22 iPad Pro 4

One downside to the backlit keys is the extreme effect it has on battery life. Without backlighting enabled, Razer’s case can last an assured 600 hours on a single charge via the included microUSB cable. With the backlight set to maximum brightness, the battery life drops down to a mere 10 hours.

No Smart Connector

If you’re a fan of Apple’s iPad Pro Smart Connector, then you’ll be disappointed to learn that Razer’s keyboard case doesn’t support the feature. Although support among third-parties is limited, the Smart Connector is superior to traditional Bluetooth connectivity in a couple of ways: first, it negates the need to charge peripherals, because the Smart Connector delivers power directly from the iPad; two, it allows peripherals to instantly pair with the iPad Pro without needing to mess with Bluetooth settings.

If you’re currently using Apple’s Smart Keyboard Case, or one of Logitech offerings that takes advantage of the Smart Connector, then going back to a Bluetooth keyboard case may seem archaic. While I tend to lean that way as well, consider a couple of reasons why Razer made the decision to go Bluetooth-only.

Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case for 12.9%22 iPad Pro 5

First and foremost, using a Bluetooth connected keyboard case won’t drain your iPad’s battery as much as a Smart Connector-enabled case. When you consider the fact that Razer is offering backlit keys that can drain the case’s battery in as little as 10 hours, it’s clear to see that Bluetooth was the right way to go.

Even more importantly, Razer’s keyboard surface can detach from the case that houses the iPad Pro. This, of course, automatically disqualifies it from relying on the Smart Connector for connectivity.


If you use your 12.9″ iPad Pro for work on a regular basis, and your work involves long form typing, then the Razer Mechanical Keyboard Case is worth strong consideration. Thanks to the low-profile mechanical key switches, I was able to type much faster on the Razer keyboard than even my 12″ MacBook keyboard, and I enjoyed the flexibility that the detachable case + kickstand brought to the table. I was also able to lap type using this case, though that’s probably not something that Razer would recommend doing.

The biggest downside with this case is its bulkiness. It’s considerably more bulky that my 12″ MacBook, and thicker than a 13″ MacBook Pro. When you start getting into that area of bulk, it makes one begin to question the practicality of such a setup, even if the typing experience is far and away better than typing on Apple’s Smart Keyboard.

The kickstand is also, for all of the positive value that it brings to the equation, kind of finicky. It doesn’t always want to close easily, and it adds another layer of cumbersomeness to set up.

If you can live with the bulkiness of the case, the lack of a Smart Connector, and its steep price, then head over Amazon.


Moxiware offers first elegant, upright Apple Pencil charging dock

Accessory maker Moxiware is the first out of the gate with a dock for the new Apple Pencil stylus that launched today alongside Apple’s larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Apple Pencil, Apple’s first stylus launching today as a companion accessory for the new iPad Pro, charges using a built-in Lightning connector. But having the Pencil sticking out of the bottom of your iPad or lying flat on the floor or a desk with the included adapter isn’t ideal. Moxiware’s dock, however, allows the Pencil to stand upright while charging, not unlike a traditional pen stand.

As is the case with most early docks for new Apple products, this one doesn’t appear to include an integrated Lightning cable meaning customers will have to supply their own and snake it through the base.

It’s available in 4 models: aluminum and wood finishes in either a cone shape or a cylinder shape with an extra pen slot.


The Moxiware Apple Pencil charging dock is available to order now from the company’s website with shipping schedule to start in December. The dock costs $30 + $6.95 shipping worldwide. 

The iPad Pro officially went on sale today online in 40 initial launch countries with the device scheduled for shipping to customers as early as Friday. Some Apple retail stores are also reporting having stock of the new device today, while accessories for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard companion accessories are shipping in 5-7 days at the time of writing.

Ten new iPad Pro details you’ll want to know before buying one

The iPad Pro became available to purchase today, making a rare simultaneous appearance in Apple’s online and physical stores without any preorder period. Consequently, it’s actually possible to walk into an Apple Store today to buy one — and if my experience today is any indication, there probably won’t even be much of a line.

If you’re still unsure as to whether you want an iPad Pro, I’ve put together this quick guide to some of the real-world things people will want to know about the new 12.9″ iPad before making a purchase — including some comparison photos and other hands-on details. Enjoy the details and galleries below…


1. How Big Is Big? How much space are you really going to save carrying an iPad Pro instead of a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro? Not a lot, particularly if you’re also toting a keyboard around. Inside a keyboard case, the iPad Pro has a nearly identical footprint to the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro (above), and is noticeably bigger than the 11.6″ MacBook Air. (Check out the gallery below to see a shot of the iPad Pro in a keyboard case dwarfing the smaller Air.)


2. This Is How Big It Looks Next To the iPad Air 2 and the iPhone 6s Plus. iPhone 6/6s Plus users typically stop using their iPad minis once their iPhones become nearly as big — some even stopped using full-sized iPads/iPad Airs. The iPad Pro creates another meaningful differentiation between devices; compared with the iPhone 6/6s Plus, it feels a lot bigger than an iPad Air. And even if you know what a 13″ laptop screen is like, the iPad Pro feels a lot different — more intimate, as Steve Jobs would have said — when it’s resting in your lap, or held in your hand. My strong advice: under no circumstances should you try placing it on an iPad dock.


3. The Extra Speakers Actually Do Make A Difference. The iPad Pro has four speakers — two on “top,” two on “bottom” — and they’re much better than on any prior iPad. Believe it or not, the iPad Pro makes the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro’s speakers sound weak; they’re remarkably a step louder, noticeably clearer, and decidedly wider in frequency, better in both treble and bass. Apple’s promised stereo separation feature works seamlessly, too, properly switching the “left” and “right” channels over to the correct speakers as you rotate the iPad Pro around.

4. Multitasking With The Virtual Keyboard Is Less Weird But Still Weird. Typing has become wonky on all iPads since the introduction of split-screen multitasking, and rather than going away, the weirdness just changes with the iPad Pro. On a positive note, you get a little more screen space for your apps above the virtual keyboard, which managed to grow in height and width by replicating more keys from a regular keyboard. Now you get half-height number keys alongside a weird half-height delete key, while losing the ability to split the keyboard in half for edge-of-screen typing. But you still have the ability to undock the keyboard from the bottom of the screen, sliding it up and down to your preferred position. I’ve never seen a use for this, but maybe you have one.

5. Most Of The Time, It Doesn’t Feel Materially Faster Than An iPad Air 2. Most apps, including Apple’s, feel like they’re running at the same speeds once you get them open, though the iPad Pro can and will load apps a little faster. As between the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro, you’re more likely to notice Internet/wireless retrieval delays than CPU or GPU performance issues at this point. Oddly, Geekbench’s benchmarking tool shows a lot of variation between results. It consistently reported a gigantic jump in single-core scores from the iPad Air 2 (as wide as 1836 to 3146), but versus the iPad Air 2’s 4605 multi-core score, the Pro’s scores ranged from a barely better 4859 to a higher score of 5324. I’m guessing Geekbench needs an update, but there might be under-the-hood power management reasons for the benchmark differences.


6. Display Zoom + AirPlay Mirroring. Hey, did you know the iPad Pro has a Display Zoom feature, like the iPhone 6/6s Plus? When activated, it effectively transforms the Pro’s 12.9″ screen into the UI equivalent of the iPad Air, with much larger icons and text at a 2048 x 1536 resolution. The zoomed display could be a boon for users with limited vision seeking a larger canvas for the existing iPad experience. Additionally, though the iPad Pro’s screen is normally 2732 x 2048, it continues to look way lower-res — basically 1024×768-equivalent, the same as other iPads — when AirPlay Mirrored to an HDTV.

7. Expect A Lot Of Upscaling and Weird Proportions. Most of the iPad Pro experience right now is… a work in progress. Click on most apps and they’ll look like iPad Air apps upscaled to a larger screen, and in some apps, you may (gasp) notice visible pixels for the first time since Apple switched to Retina displays. Also, apps that have been upscaled (including Apple’s integrated iOS apps) don’t necessarily look optimally balanced for the new screen size. It’s really time for Apple to re-evaluate whether iPad apps like Clock really need to occupy the entire screen with white space for most of their tabs — now that multitasking is here, some apps might be best off running in less-than-full-screen windows.

8. Also, You Probably Should Stop Running Those Last Few Upscaled iPhone Apps Now. Sorry, Instagram users. iPhone app upscaling to the iPad was always a little iffy, but on the iPad Pro, it’s downright silly. 1X mode is tiny, and 2X mode no longer fills the screen, remaining closer to the size of an iPad Air screen with tons of black space on the Pro’s display.


9. Old Power Is All Good. The iPad Pro comes with and prefers Apple’s previously-released 12w iPad Power Adapter, but it doesn’t complain if it’s connected to older 10W iPad adapters or even 5W iPhone adapters. Those fearing a “Not Charging” notice will find the Pro works like other iPads when it comes to compatibility with Made For iPad power accessories.


10. Apple’s Smart Connector May Become A Game-Changer. For the first time in iPad history, the iPad Pro can actually connect to two wired accessories at once — one with Lightning, one with the Smart Connector. If this wasn’t obvious before due to the volume buttons’ placement, the Smart Connector now defines the “correct” way to use the iPad Pro in landscape mode: with the Home Button on the right side of the screen. It’s going to be really interesting to see how and whether most cases handle the new Connector, as no one knows yet whether it will be useful for things beyond (certain) keyboard docks. Since it was the first thing to show dirt on my Pro after it was unpacked, protection of some sort doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but accessing the port may wind up being challenging if it’s covered…

iPad Pro is fast, powerful, but no laptop replacement

The Apple Pencil makes drawing on an iPad Pro incredibly precise.

The iPad Pro is out today and, like clockwork, the first batch of reviews have started to circulate.

The consensus? That the iPad Pro is gorgeous, powerful, and its (added extra) Apple Pencil stylus is great — but the add-on keyboard is disappointing, multitasking can be problematic, and it’s not quite ready to take over from the Mac in every situation as Tim Cook has suggested.

Out of that mixed bag of pros and cons, we’ve picked out a few of the most interesting comments for our big meta-review below.

The Verge

“The display on the iPad Pro is stunning. With a resolution of 2732 x 2048 at 264 pixels per inch, it’s actually the highest-resolution display on any iOS device, but all that means nothing until you see it. Photos, videos, even text look big and crisp and real. The only knock you could make on the display is that it doesn’t include the new 3D Touch technology Apple introduced with the iPhone 6S, something that arguably could have been more useful on a tablet meant for multitasking than it is on a smaller-screened phone.

The tablet’s processing power is even more notable than the display. Apple has rigged the iPad Pro with its latest chip, the A9X, which it claims has twice the CPU and twice the graphics performance of the previous processor. (Apple points out it also “rivals most portable PCs” in terms of power.) And it has four strategically placed, self-adjusting speakers that wowed me with their sound when I watched videos on it.”


“Nobody’s going to toss their iMacs and ThinkPads into the garbage tomorrow and instead lay a 12.9-inch tablet on everyone’s desk. If there’s a touchscreen revolution underway, it’s going to happen slowly, an app and an accessory at a time. That’s OK. The iPad Pro is a fantastic tablet, not to mention the first iPad in ages that has an obvious value next to our giant smartphones. It starts as a big, powerful, beautiful screen, and with the right accessories and apps can be almost any kind of device you want. So, yeah: size matters.”


“The responsiveness [of the Apple Pencil] is exquisite and the Pencil tip material offers just the right balance between friction and smoothness on the iPad Pro’s touch screen. Pressure sensitivity is about as close as you’re going to get to actually drawing on real paper. It even supports shading, letting me hold the Pencil at an extreme angle to access a the virtual long-edge of a graphite pencil or wide magic marker.

What’s more, there is almost no perceptible visual space between the Pencil tip and the digital line that appears on screen. All that combined with the iPad Pro’s impressively large canvas (I have room for a full drawing and reference material) make this a fantastic drawing experience.”


“The iPad Pro’s true strength lies in its beautiful display and slick ease of use: slim and light enough to carry with you for all your web browsing and Netflix needs, but also capable of facilitating detailed sketching in a way that was impossible in the past.

In naming it the Pro, Apple has indicated a desire to slot it into the heavyweight MacBook and Mac Pro divisions, and that’s a plucky move. Limitations to multitasking and a lack of USB ports mean Surface die-hards will hate it, but I’m willing to bet that millions will disagree. After too many years in the shadows of the iPhone, the Pro is the iPad’s time to shine.”

Walt Mossberg

“You can get a lot more done with iPad apps than with the paltry selection of tablet / touch-first apps available for the Surface. But, because Apple hasn’t made a great keyboard, the iPad Pro isn’t a complete replacement for a great laptop like the MacBook Air — even for a tablet guy like me.

The iPad Pro will no doubt make a lot of Apple users happy, especially if they use it for graphics. But I won’t be buying one, and I don’t recommend that average users do so either.”

Ars Technica

“Even with a bigger screen and new accessories, the iPad still feels like a ‘sometimes computer.’ I can take it with me on vacation instead of a MacBook and do pretty much everything I want, and I can even get quite a bit of work done on one (the majority of this review was written on an iPad Pro, usually while also chatting in Slack or Messages or firing off e-mails). But what really does it in for me are the many small ways in which the iPad Pro is not quite a traditional computer and iOS is not quite OS X.”

In all, perhaps not the effusive reviews Apple was hoping for — but rather a collection which say that, if you enjoy what the iPad already does, you’ll appreciate the abilities of the iPad Pro. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that’ll help ramp up productivity, make the iPad a serious business machine, or even mean that you can cross off that next MacBook as a necessary upgrade, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Have these reviews swayed your decision to an iPad Pro in one direction or the other? Leave your comments below.

Solartab, the premium solar charger/battery for iPad and iPhone that actually works

If you’ve ever tried to charge your iPhones/iPads/etc. directly from a small solar panel you probably know it is pretty difficult. Even with direct sunlight, you aren’t likely to be able to charge the device reliably. Most USB-charged devices require a minimum of 5W (5Vx1A) of continuous power to even register a charge. Then a cloud comes or the sun moves and you aren’t charging anymore.

Adding a battery to the mix helps, especially if the battery is big and can charge the device on its own without any sun. But most of the solar/battery combos fall into 2 categories: Either messy because they are a bulky 2 step solution or the solar panel is too smallto make a meaningful charge and you are mostly using it like a regular USB battery.


SolarTab is a break of fresh air here. It is a relatively big 5.5W solar panel built on a thin 13,000mAh battery enclosure that fits in an included Moleskine-esque case. Size-wise, think the original iPad with a nice leather case and a huge solar panel instead of a screen…

Key Details:

  • 5.5W Solar panel w/dual 2.1A USB ports
  • 13,000mAh battery will provide a few full iPads worth of power when the sun goes out
  • Fits perfectly in bags next to books and iPads
  • Looks great and built to last

This is the perfect large battery for a number of reasons. Because it is so thin, it fits like a book (or iPad!) in a backpack, briefcase or large purse. Most importantly, it always has power. I leave mine on my windowsill  for when I need to go into the city (usually 1-2 times per week). My iPhone and iPad usually die with heavy use so it’s a lifesaver for my trips home. What’s great is that I don’t ever have to plug it in. A few days in the window will have me back to full for my next trip.


This is a premium product with a Apple-inspired 4-LED battery indicator and solar charging indicator. It will charge a dead iPhone or more times to full. An iPad at least twice.

What’s perfect about the size is that the solar panel in direct sunlight can charge an iPhone or iPad by itself (5Vx1A speed) but you shouldn’t ever need this with the monster 13,000mAh battery. There are 2 separate USB out ports which each give you a relatively powerful 2.1A x 5 V or 11 Watts.  If you need to add charge manually you can do so via Micro-USB.


What’s more, with a USBA to USB-C cable, you can power (but not charge) the new MacBooks or a Chrome Pixel for about double their normal battery life. If the MacBook is asleep then you can charge the internal battery. It would be nice if on a future version the USB ports could support the 2.4A for the fastest speed on current iPads and more for the MacBook.


Overall, I’m very satisfied with the SolarTab. It really nails the solar-battery USB charger unlike any other product I’ve used before. You can pick one up at Amazon

Apple Pencil Offers High Precision and Low Latency, Gains 30 Minutes of Use From 15-Second Charge.

Apple-Pencil-iPad-ProApple co-founder Steve Jobs famously dismissed the need for a stylus when introducing Multi-Touch on the original iPhone over eight years ago, touting the finger as the best pointing device in the world.

“Who wants a stylus? You have to get them, and put them away, and you lose them. Yuck. Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus.”

Macworld 2007 was quite awhile ago, however, and Apple on Wednesday ultimately reversed course and introduced the Apple Pencil for iPad Pro, which it refers to as a creative tool for scribbling, sketching, annotating and editing.

Apple Pencil features a pointed tip with highly responsive sensors that allow for precise input down to a single pixel. To achieve this, Apple engineered the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro display to work together to detect position, force and tilt.

For example, as seen in the video below, you can press lightly for a thinner stroke, or press harder for a darker, bolder stroke. Likewise, you can draw with the Apple Pencil on an angle to produce broad, shaded strokes.

The iPad Pro’s subsystem scans the Apple Pencil’s signal 240 times per second, providing the tablet with twice the data points it would normally collect for a finger. This results in the Apple Pencil being very responsive, with almost indistinguishable latency, as seen in TechCrunch‘s hands-on video below.

Apple Pencil has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge, but more interesting is its ability to gain 30 minutes of battery life from just 15 seconds of charging. A magnetic cap hides a male Lightning connector that allows the Apple Pencil to be plugged into the iPad Pro to charge.

Apple Pencil will be available in November for $99 alongside the new Smart Keyboard. While the Apple Pencil is officially compatible with the iPad Pro, it remains to be seen if the tool will work with older iPads as a traditional stylus

Apple’s new microsite shows how iPad changes everything.

Photo: Apple

Apple Watch is getting all the attention and iPhone is scooping up all the sales, so Apple is has decided to launch a new microsite today, dedicated to all the amazing things you can do with an iPad.

The new ‘Everything Changes with iPad’ site comes with a new film featuring various iPad owners cooking, traveling, working, learning, reading, shopping, redecorating, and so much more, all from Apple’s magical tablet.

The iPad microsite includes five sections that feature iPad apps for cooking, learning, small business, traveling, and redecorating. A sixth section answers the question ‘Why you’ll love the iPad.’

Apple’s new iPad film hasn’t been uploaded to YouTube yet, but you can watch it and explore the sub-sections right here.