The consequence of this is that when you type the keyboard slightly wobbles from side to side (by a few millimetres). And because the iPad screen is attached to the keyboard this means the screen wobbles ever so slightly as you type; just enough to be annoying. And if you're a touch typist that looks at the screen while you type you're likely to notice it. We did get over it in time, but we still can't help feeling that the Keyboard Dock would be better with the same stabilising bar that sits across the back of the regular wireless keyboard. We assume that Apple had to add the central block to counter-balance the weight of the iPad (to prevent the device falling backwards) and removed the horizontal bar to lighten the load.
It's important to note that there will be other options to the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock. You can use a regular Apple Wireless keyboard with the iPad, by connecting via Bluetooth. And there are devices such as the Twelve South BookArc that will provide an effective stand (also enabling you to use the iPad in landscape mode). We haven't got one of these in for testing, yet, but feel it may be a better option – even though it's then three things to carry around, rather than two. And we assume that other keyboard options will be available soon.
The combined weight of the iPad and iPad Dock Keyboard comes in at 1.2kg, or 1.4kg for us when we'd also added the iPad case that we use to keep it free from scuffs and scratches. It's lighter than the 2.3kg of the MacBook, but not so much lighter that you'd care. And there's not much between this and a MacBook Air (1.3kg). It's also noticeably more cumbersome to fit the triangular-shaped keyboard dock and iPad into a laptop bag than it is to slide in a MacBook.
We found the experience of using the iPad Keyboard Dock the complete reverse of what we expected. When we first saw the iPad Keyboard Dock we felt it added gravitas and weight to the iPad, turning it from a hand-held device to a laptop. Surely this would be an essential purchase for all iPad owners?
The thing is, the iPad with a keyboard isn't as good as a laptop. The screen is smaller (and wobbly) and there's no mouse for precision, you can't drag and drop files around, and so on. Whenever we sat down and used it for serious work we simply thought: "why am I not using my MacBook." And, aside from using it to write up this review, that's a question we still haven't really answered.
Of course, the iPad and iPad Keyboard dock is much cheaper solution than a MacBook, let alone a MacBook Air, and if you're a iMac or Mac Pro user looking for a mobile solution we can see how this would appeal over spending the extra on a MacBook, but we're not completely convinced it offers enough of the work power of a MacBook to be an effective work machine.
That's not to say that the iPad on its own isn't as good as a MacBook, it's a completely different device. It's a handheld touch screen experience that completely redefines the idea of mobile computing. Somehow, adding a keyboard to it diminished the experience for us. At first we put this down to the wobbly screen effect, but over time we decided it was more fundamental than that. The iPad is a handheld revolution, why on earth would you want to saddle it with a keyboard?
We really wanted to like the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock, and it was top of our list of accessories to obtain. It surprised us when it didn't work out. While the quality is undeniably high (essentially it's a Apple Wireless Keyboard) we found it wobbled due to lacking the stabilising crossbar found underneath the regular keyboard. It's also heavy and the iPad holder sticks out at an angle, making it noticeable to carry around.
Above all it turns the iPad from a handheld joy into a desktop computer; for us it diminished the iPad experience, rather than expanded it. When using our MacBook to watch video, or browse the web, we often reach out for the iPad instead (it's a better experience). But when using the iPad to work we simply wanted to reach for our MacBook instead. It's horses for courses, and this horse doesn't match this course.