You have to be fairly confident to put the word ‘ultimate’ into your official product name and this is exactly what Belkin have done with their Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case. So is it really the 'ultimate' for £99.99/$129.99?
Belkin are trying extremely hard here to present a keyboard case that shares the essence of a MacBook. This is possible through the use of stylish aircraft grade aluminium alongside faux leather/plastic, a spaced chiclet styled keyboard and a thin profile. You could almost be forgiven for thinking this was an official Apple product, especially from the scent straight out of the box. It feels well made too, despite the cardboard thin profile. In summary, the Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is very similar to the smallest MacBook Air in dimensions and, in fact, we’ve reviewed cases like the Toffee Flip Folio case for the iPad Air 2 which have no keyboard and are quite a bit thicker.
Magnets are the key to this case's usefulness, as they synchronise to work with you as you use it. The first time you’ll greet them is upon opening and closing the case, which is a very pleasing process. Then you’ll see three sets of lines inside on which the iPad's shell will magnetically stand up. This was one of our favourite features on the Belkin QODE, it is a real refinement, and because the magnets are so strong in force, your iPad will have little chance of falling over like they commonly do in cases that simply prop the iPad up. These magnets also tell the Bluetooth case to turn on when the iPad is attached to them and off when it’s not. This saves battery, is profoundly convenient and makes accidentally using the iPad Air 2 with the case folded around and pressing down on the keyboard, a non-issue. Furthermore the sleep/wake button, volume controls, Lightning connector, rear camera and audio jack are all accessible via cutouts within the plastic sheet the iPad sits in. Added to this, because the plastic shell has a little give, it’s not a nail breaking exercise to snap the iPad Air 2 in and out of it.
We almost exclusively type on chiclet styled keyboards, whether it be at an iMac or MacBook Pro. We know what goes into making this style of typing a good experience. The first thing to note is this kind of keyboard has to have light keys, but they also need to spring back quickly. We’re pleased to reveal that the Belkin QODE is a friendly keyboard to type on and is remarkably responsive (there’s no Bluetooth lag). Whilst the keys may be smaller than a keyboard on a MacBook, they’re mildly textured and we think this helps quite a bit with finger placement. We rarely made many typing mistakes when first using this keyboard case and there isn’t any real adjusting to be made to become familiar with the layout either. So with the case's 264 hours of battery life you can genuinely get prolonged typing work done on the go and still have the tactical feedback of a real keyboard. Our biggest criticism is the delete/backspace key is small and a 25% increase in size would have made this keyboard a near flawless typing experience.
An oddity we noticed at specific angles is that the Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case's corresponding keys' functions have a mildly blurred appearance which is not noticeable when viewed from above but is when typing on a very high table. Not a deal breaker but a slight imperfection given the quality standard the case presents.
Aluminium is a really strong material, with Apple products proving how effective building from this lightweight material is for the consumer world. It’s not perfect, it will chip/dent when severe impact occurs, but here it is a strong and secure cushion of protection over the iPad’s screen and the iPad’s aluminium body is covered by the plastic shell it sits within. It’s a case designed to withstand everyday usage. Assuredly the Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case will stay firmly shut, so if you drop the case it won’t spring open for the screen and keyboard to be damaged.
The Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is first and foremost a serious, well designed and spaced chiclet styled keyboard case for the iPad Air 2. It’s comfortable and responsive to type on. However, the smaller design details like the magnetic auto on/off, thin strong profile and high quality aluminium body, truly produce a MacBook-like and enjoyable typing experience for your iPad Air 2.