As I mentioned in our review, there are elements of Apple's iPad launch that seemed rushed. The lack of any spectacular apps from Apple itself, some performance/OS issues and even missing accessories at launch. 

One accessory that couldn't be found on day 1 is the iPad Keyboard Dock. This accessory has a dock port for your iPad, an external dock port for connecting to your computer/power brick and a 1/8" line out. The keyboard itself is Apple's condensed chiclet, which ranks up there with ThinkPad keyboards in my book. The dock and keyboard are both very well built.

You can use keyboard shortcuts (e.g. copy, paste, option+delete to delete the previous word, etc...) and there are even some hotkeys on the keyboard itself (.e.g lock, brightness control, home screen). You do lose things like auto punctuation in Pages (e.g. tapping space twice doesn't put a period at the end of the previous word) and you can't Cmd+Tab between apps (perhaps that's coming in OS4?).

It does improve the overall functionality of your iPad quite a bit. If you plan on using your iPad as a netbook alternative, I'd say the iPad Keyboard Dock is a necessity. Unfortunately, priced at $69 it contributes to the iPad's already high cost of ownership.

More pics in the Gallery, and more thoughts later!

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  • neoflux - Saturday, April 10, 2010 - link

    So the keyboard is permanently fixed to the dock portion? Seems like it'd be hard to store when traveling. I would imagine a two-piece setup would be more convenient.

    Even better, release a new BT keyboard in an iPad dock kit that could connect to the dock portion so that it could be charged in addition to the iPad, but also used separately for things other than the iPad.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Saturday, April 10, 2010 - link

    Andy Ihnatko commented a couple days before the iPad release that this accessory was clearly not designed to be mobile. And that makes sense, an accessory doesn't have to do everything for everyone. There is nothing stopping anyone from making a portable keyboard+dock accessory. In fact, I expect we'll see plenty coming soon. Reply
  • vol7ron - Monday, April 12, 2010 - link

    Even still, I don't see why there has to be one port on the iPad. What about conditions where you want to use it in landscape mode. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no port down the elongated side, is there? Reply
  • riha - Monday, April 12, 2010 - link

    Well this is the reason:

    "...an external dock port for connecting to your computer/power brick and a 1/8" line out."

    So, the port on the iPad needs to be used to bridge it to the new external ports that are part of the Dock.

    But as you say/hint as well, it sure would be nice to have the port on both long and short edge of the iPad to be able to "mount" it horisontal or vertical and still be able to hook up these external ports.
    Reply
  • Undune - Monday, April 12, 2010 - link

    Yeah, I don't see the benefits of this over getting the bluetooth keyboard + the case. It would seem that those two things, together, can serve the same purpose and be much more versatile and mobile. Plus, I can use the bluetooth keyboard with other computers... Reply
  • harveypooka - Saturday, April 10, 2010 - link

    You know, looking at the iPad and it's accessories, I realise that the iPad could almost be a replacement computer for many users.

    My parents pretty much use their Sunflower iMac for email, music and web surfing. The iPad and it's OS would be simple enough for them but it lacks some significant features that they'd need: ability to plug in a external CD drive and proper file management.

    I'm sure this isn't the angle Apple are going for, but it's quite exciting to see how close they are. Instead of the iPad being a device dependent on a computer to a certain extent this could quite easily be a stand-alone computer.
    Reply
  • Mike1111 - Saturday, April 10, 2010 - link

    Can you do everything you can do with the iPad keyboard dock with an Apple bluetooth keyboard? Or does the iPad keyboard dock offer some special functions (e.g. brightness control, volume, start search etc.) that are not available on an Apple bluetooth keyboard? Reply
  • Griswold - Sunday, April 11, 2010 - link

    From what I remember from the first look the day apple showed the ipad, it does have ipad specific buttons. Reply
  • Mike1111 - Sunday, April 11, 2010 - link

    Well, there seems to be no difference in hardware keys. So if there are iPad Keyboard Dock exclusive functions then they are just in software... Reply
  • ksherman - Sunday, April 11, 2010 - link

    IIRC, in iPhone OS 4.0, there is supposed to be support for bluetooth keyboards. Would make more sense to get a BT Keyboard and a case with a stand. Would not only be more portable, but then you could use that keyboard with something other than the iPad. Reply

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