The Crux360 keyboard case ($99 direct) turns your iPad into a laptop. It works with the iPad 2 , third-generation, and fourth-generation iPads. Aside from minor cosmetic differences, the Crux360 looks very similar to the $150 ClamCase. Upon further inspection, the keyboard feel and layout is different, but both have the same 360-degree hinge mechanism. As such, the Crux360 functions as a sturdy and infinitely variable stand for your iPad. Unfortunately, its keyboard is a bit too cramped, and it adds significant bulk compared with our current Editors’ Choice, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.
Design, Setup, and Keyboard
If you’ve seen the ClamCase, the Crux360 will be instantly familiar. It replicates the look and feel of a small netbook, with the iPad snapping securely into one half and a full QWERTY keyboard on the other half. The case measures 9.7 by 8 by 0.8 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.6 pounds, which is more than twice as thick and heavy as the 0.31-inch and 11.36-ounce Logitech Ultrathin. Still, the Crux360 offers far greater protection and options as a stand for your iPad.
The magic is in the 360-degree hinge, which allows you to use your iPad in laptop form or bend it all the way around to any angle. The Crux360 is made entirely from matte black plastic. The only discernible differences between the Crux and the ClamCase are a cutout on the back, exposing the iPad’s back, and a few minor Crux flourishes sprinkled throughout.
Setup is as simple as snapping the iPad into the case, pressing the Power button, then pressing the Bluetooth button. The latter isn’t clearly labeled, which might be confusing at first, but a blue LED blinks to indicate pairing mode. Once paired, the keyboard works exactly like any other Bluetooth keyboard. Though it snaps in easily, removing the case require a bit too much force. There’s a micro USB port along the right edge, which charges the keyboard with the included cable. If you’re looking for a greener alternative, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio is powered by light and will never need to be plugged in.
Instead of island or chiclet style keys like we’ve seen on most other folio options, the Crux360′s keyboard is a faithful recreation of traditional sculpted keys with flat tops and slightly sloped sides. Even the proportions of the keys closely resemble those found on laptops like older ThinkPads. But where that style worked fine on full-sized setups, the Crux360′s keyboard is a bit too cramped for my taste. In testing, I had to keep my fingers tightly together to stay accurate, which proved to be less comfortable than my experience with the chiclet keys on the Logitech Ultrathin and Solar Keyboard Folio. After a day of use, though, I got acclimated to the keyboard and could type quickly and accurately. There’s also a dedicated row of Function keys for media control and commands like cut, copy, and paste.
The Crux360 is essentially the ClamCase with a more exposed back and different keyboard layout. The keyboard isn’t quite as roomy as the ClamCase, but the Crux360 also retails for $50 less and offers the same versatile 360-degree hinge. Really though, you get a keyboard folio for the keyboard, and in that respect, the Crux360 falls short of the very similar ClamCase. Make no mistake, this case, like the ClamCase, will add significant bulk to your iPad—more than double the thickness and weight of the iPad itself or the sleek Logitech Ultrathin. If you’re looking for more substantial protection for your iPad than the Logitech Ultrathin delivers, and also want the freedom of an infinitely variable stand, then the Crux360 is a nice affordable alternative to the ClamCase.
More Cases & Carrying Gear Reviews:
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc