The original ClamCase basically turned the iPad into a laptop, but it was closer to chunky plastic netbook rather than a slick aluminum ultrabook. The company went back to the drawing board, and offers up the ClamCase Pro ($169 direct), which offers the same infinitely adjustable 360-degree hinge and a comfortable QWERTY keyboard, but in a much sleeker package. It’s still a bit too heavy, though, and unless you need the full-body protection, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, our Editors’ Choice, offers a better balance of comfort and streamlined design at almost half the price.
Design, Features, and Setup
The ClamCase Pro shares many design elements with the original Clamcase, but at 9.7 by 7.9 by 0.85 inches (HWD) it’s slimmer. It’s still a bit heavy at 1.5 pounds, but a lot of that can be chalked up to the use of aluminum rather than plastic for the keyboard base. The advantage here is less flex under the keyboard, and a more premium look and feel. If that’s too bulky and heavy for you, check out the Logitech Ultrathin, which is a mere 0.31 inches thick and weighs just 11.4 ounces. There’s a microUSB port on the right for charging with the included cable. ClamCase claims the Pro should last for up to 100 hours of continuous use or 6 months of standby time, and the case automatically powers down when not in use.
Like its predecessor, the ClamCase Pro provides full body and screen protection for the iPad, which you lose with thin-and-light options like the Logitech Ultrathin or the Zagg ZAGGkeys PROplus. You also get the signature 360-degree hinge that can prop the iPad up in any imaginable position. On top of that, the ClamCase Pro lets you comfortably use your iPad in your lap, which is no easy feat with most keyboard folio cases.
Setup is a cinch: Just snap the iPad into the top half of the case, hold the Bluetooth button for five seconds, then pair like you would any other Bluetooth-enabled accessory. It’s also much easier to get the iPad in and out of the ClamCase Pro than the original, which is a welcome improvement. The ClamCase Pro is compatible with all iPad models made after the iPad 2. We tested with the iPad 2 and the current fourth-gen tablet and both fit easily and securely.
Keyboard and Conclusions
Almost all iPad keyboard folios now use small, but spaced out, chiclet-style keys. The ClamCase Pro is no different, and its keyboard is an improvement over the original. The keys themselves feel a bit narrow, but they are well defined and properly spaced. Going from a full desktop keyboard to the ClamCase Pro requires very little adjustment time, and the keys themselves have a nice solid feel with deep travel. The Logitech Ultrathin keys are shallower and feel a bit looser. The ClamCase Pro also has the advantage of dedicated, iPad-specific function keys along the top row, which are useful for quickly and easily controlling media playback or, say, copying and pasting text.
When it comes to iPad keyboard folios, the ClamCase Pro stands out as one of the few that effectively replicates the look and feel of a laptop. Really though, your choice will depend on your priorities. If you value portability and looks, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover offers a supremely thin and light design that looks like it could have been made by Apple itself. If you value protection and versatility, the ClamCase Pro offers solid protection, a very comfortable keyboard, and a 360-degree hinge that makes it the perfect stand for any occasion, but at $170, it’s one of the more expensive folios you’ll find.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc