The Question: How do you make a lightweight and portable tablet productive? Well apart from adding the appropriate software like MS Office or Google Docs, the other way is to add a keyboard case/dock. That is exactly what I have done with the Nexus 9; I have added the Nexus 9 Keyboard Folio.
Design and Usage
So how is it then? Well the first thing is learning to type on that smaller keyboard which takes quite a bit of time. I am writing this review on the Folio right now and once that initial adjustment has been made you can get a reasonable typing speed however don’t expect to be typo free for a while!
Bearing in mind that the case is set into a 9 inch case it is really not that bad, and if you were able to type on the old style netbooks then you will be good here. Fortunately for me I am not a touch typist but I do find that having used bigger keyboards like the Surface Pro 3 and the like it is not as nice an experience. What would really help here is if there was any sort of intelligent text correction like you get on the normal on-screen keyboard as this would really help to improve overall speed of text entry. The key travel and pitch is actually really nice considering how thing and light this folio is HTC/Google have done a really good job here to get a decent throw on the keys. That is enough of the keyboard… How is it as a case?
As you can see from the pics, the case will add a bit of bulk to the tablet but it is not too bad and it feels much more compact than some of the other solutions that I have seen. The magnets that hold the tablet in its two standing positions are very strong and you can pick up the whole thing from the tablet without fear of the keyboard falling off. Changing between stand modes actually not that unpleasant to do.
When closed, the case will be placing the screen downward onto the keys which is worrying as I am concerned that over time the keyboard will mark the screen. There is also some slippage when the case is closed as there is no way to hold the case in place when shut. As a deal breaker, I am undecided at the moment I will have too give it a few days in my bag to test its durability.
Google have shown the way with how the keyboard gets paired as it couldn’t be easier. All the user needs to do is tap the top of the Nexus onto the hinge of spine of the keyboard (which also contains the battery) and this then sets up the Bluetooth pairing. This is how easy it should be and other manufacturers need to take note, however I do still prefer the way that the Surface Pro 3 makes the connection by the docking connector. I would have loved to see that here on the Nexus 9 but it is not to be yet.
I have been pretty impressed with the Nexus 9 Keyboard Folio. The real problem that this bit of kit has is that Google have gone and stuck a ridiculous price on it. This board is not worth £110 under any circumstances. The keyboard is missing a vital element for something of this price – a backlight. This makes usage of the keyboard limited as you will need to have good lighting to use it. Come on Google/HTC, if Microsoft can do it then so can you. I also think that the size is going to be a concern for a lot of people and it may even put some people off (if the price doesn’t). So in conclusion if you are a Nexus 9 owner and you really must have a keyboard then this will do the job but try and find one for a lower price than Google’s or wait until they have a sale. If however you have a smaller budget and you don’t want the fancy NFC pairing setup and the magnetic stand then there are other options out there. Verdict? Close, but not close enough.