5.11.12. iPad and the Incase Origami Workstation
The iPad writing station experiment continues. The latest addition is the Origami Workstation by Incase. This is a simple case for the Apple Wireless Keyboard that folds out into a supportive structure for holding an iPad. When I started this project, I was using the Apple Smart Cover to support the iPad in a landscape position, like a laptop. The Origami Workstation supports the same thing, but it supports placing the iPad in any orientation. iA Writer looks great in both, and it can be nicer and even more like a piece of paper to type in portrait, which is what I'm trying now.

I have yet to try even commuting with this keyboard, as it's not something I need at work. I use the iPad at the office, but don't do very much typing. Any input that I need on the iPad at work comes in via various cloud/sync solutions like OmniFocus, Notes, and iCloud. Still, I'm going to toss the keyboard and this case in the backpack tomorrow to see how it feels and fits. The aluminum keyboard is not small, and packing it around could start to mitigate the advantages of the iPad. However, I think the case will be a nice occassional throw-in for going to a neighborhood coffee shop (waiting on a new one to open in a couple of months) or maybe travel when I want to do some writing.

This makes me recognize some of the appeal of Microsoft's Surface and Windows 8 strategy, which is to promote a laptop/tablet hybrid. With this keyboard, I'm closer to that situation. I have more thoughts on this that I plan on posting in the future.

For this post regarding the Origami Workstation case and the Apple Wireless Keyboard, the takeaway is that this is a nice piece of kit that seems to compare favorably with other iPad keyboard/case combinations. Some other combinations combine the keyboard into the iPad case, and I don't like those. While I like having a keyboard for my iPad, it's not something I need for most of the day or evening. With the Origami Workstation, my keyboard is protected and put away most of the day and isn't taking up any more space. It does take up more space when it is in the backpack, but again it's not something I plan on taking with me daily. Integrated case-keyboard solutions also tend to force you into landscape mode - even the Microsoft Surface's savvy design does this. While this isn't necessarily bad, I do find that when writing long bits of text, portrait mode can be a much more natural fit. Since the Origami Workstation just unfolds into a supportive triangle, the iPad can be propped in either orientation. The iPad can even stay inside most cases that you can put on it.

It's also pretty easy to pop the keyboard in and out of the case. This is nice since I might want to use the keyboard on my lap while keeping the iPad on my desk. This is like the iMac where I can place the keyboard wherever is comfortable, independent of the display - something you can't do with laptops or integrated keyboard cases.

Finally, the Apple Wireless Keyboard is great. It's what I use on all of my iMacs, and is the same layout as on my (aging) MacBook. I'm used to the feel and spacing of these keys. The Origami Workstation lets me stay with that keyboard while letting me use the iPad like a laptop, desktop, or tablet as much as I want. The main downside is size, as the keyboard is taller than the iPad, and thicker due to its use of AA batteries. Since I expect to mostly use this at home, that's not a big deal. It's still a pretty compact setup.

The cost of the Apple Wireless Keyboard ($69 USD) and Incase Origami Workstation ($29) matches nicely with most of the top integrated keyboard case solutions which seem to average around $99-$129. This pairing is excellent for anyone wanting to do long writing on the iPad.

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