Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Review: Not Worth the Bulk and Expense
The Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance Keyboard Case for New iPad and iPad 2 adds a Bluetooth keyboard to a black folio style case that swivels so you can type with the iPad in portrait and landscape modes. It promises to turn your iPad into a useful content creation tool for writers and typists. It also adds some bulk and weight to the sleek tablet.
Using a case like Kensington’s KeyFolio Pro Performance comes with a trade-off. You get the added functionality of the Bluetooth keyboard and protection of a thick case. You also add weight and bulk. You have to ask if the added functionality is worth the trade-off. Sometimes that answer will be yes. This time I have to say it’s not.
Prior to reviewing the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance case, I wrote a review of the ZAGGfolio Bluetooth Keyboard case, and had a good experience. I found myself comparing the two and Kensington’s model came up short. Our editor, Josh Smith reviewed a the Kensington Keyfolio Pro 2 iPad keyboard case and had a very difference experience, so your experience might vary.
Despite using the same keyboard, I didn’t enjoy the Pro Performance case, while Josh preferred his to the ZAGGfolio. Be sure to read all three reviews before you make an investment of your own.
Here’s Kensington’s demo video of the Keyfolio Pro Performance case:
If the physical Bluetooth keyboard doesn’t make typing faster or at least as good as using the onscreen keyboard of iPad, then you have a clear failure.
The keyboard on the Kensington Keyfolio Pro Performance isn’t worse than the on-screen keyboard, but the improvement doesn’t justify the cost and added bulk.
All iPad Bluetooth keyboards are cramped compared to typing on a regular keyboard. However, if the manufacturer properly designs key layout or makes the keys large enough, you don’t find yourself hitting them at the wrong time despite the size. With the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance keyboard, the right shift key is too small and right next to the arrow keys, something Josh noted when he reviewed his Kensington keyboard case.
I found myself hitting the Up Arrow almost every time I tried to hit Shift. This lowers productivity drastically. I kept having to adjust the insertion point to return to the line on which I was typing. This one weakness might be something you can get used to over time. I could not.
In addition, the keyboard has another glaring weakness. The Space bar wasn’t very responsive. I had to bang on it and I’m a keyboard banger anyway. If I had to hit a key harder than normal to get it to work, then most typists will have a difficult time.
Third, the set of keys in the upper right take up precious space on the keyboard while adding no useful functions. The top row holds the special iPad function keys, like the home button and more. The keys closest to the right do nothing or repeat the function of another key. You have buttons labelled “Pause Break”, “PrtSc SysRq”, “Insert” and “Delete”. The first three do nothing. At least the Delete key works, but it sits right above a backspace key and behaves identically. This wastes space. Since the arrow keys crowd the tiny right shift key, why didn’t they place the arrow keys on the top to allow for larger shift and carriage return keys?
The Bluetooth connection is solid. You turn it on using the side slider switch, hit the connect button and type in a code that appears on the screen. After that it connects immediately after turning on the keyboard.
The model Josh used lets you remove the keyboard, which was one reason he loved his. This keyboard doesn’t, limiting the keyboard’s flexibility.
The keys have a nice feel and despite having too much of a “clickety-clack” feel, they are comfortable for an undersized keyboard.
The other function keys above the number keys give you useful functions. You get the following across the top:
- Home – functions like the iPad home button.
- Unmarked Brightness – the F1 and F2 turn brightness down and up but you don’t know this since there are no icons.
- Slide show – starts the iPad slide show feature that displays pictures in your camera roll.
- Keyboard – brings up onscreen keyboard.
- Spotlight Search – lets you search for apps, documents, contacts, etc.
- Media Keys – back, play/pause, and forward buttons.
- Volume – mute, volume up and volume down.
- Lock – turns off the iPad screen.
- The last four useless buttons
The case on the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance case is made of a flat black polyurethane material. It collects fingerprints and doesn’t look very nice after a short time. The case is thick and bulky. It adds a lot of weight to your iPad. The case overs the front bezel around the screen, a good thing if you need extra protection. I prefer one that grabs the edges but doesn’t cover the front so as not to add thickness.
You insert the iPad into the case along one of the long sides of the case. A flap covers that side to keep the iPad in the case. Unfortunately, your iPad slides around inside the case and the flap adds another layer of thickness.
If you like to type in portrait mode, you can swivel the iPad 90 degrees. It only works with the iPad Home button towards the bottom. Otherwise putting the Home button at the top puts the iPad at an angle making it too top-heavy for the case to hold it up. Why would you care? Maybe you want to plug in the iPad as you use it. You can’t do that and hold it in portrait mode.
The case forces you to keep the display at a very steep angle. Many users will find this angle too steep, especially considering how close the keyboard is to the display.
The case will protect your iPad thanks to the thickness. It also give you access to all ports, button and the camera. Unfortunately the case cannot wake or sleep your iPad using magnets.
You don’t get the useful magnetic on/off function built into the iPad since iPad 2.
Recommendation and Availability
I can’t recommend this case. The thickness, steep angle and numerous keyboard issues on the KeyFolio Pro Performance are too great to ignore. Additionally, the polyurethane material turns ugly quick. Its thick, bulky and heavy.
While you can find the Kensington KeyFolio Pro Performance case on Amazon for $62, I highly recommend looking at a different case. If productivity is important, the ZAGGfolio is well worth the additional cost. If you want a cheaper case and keyboard, check out the KeyFolio Pro 2, which allows you to remove the keyboard and adjust the angle of the display.