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Review: Adonit Writer 2 for iPad

The Adonit Writer 2 is a keyboard folio that is singular in its purpose: it’s not trying to make your iPad into a laptop – it simply holds it up in landscape mode so that you can sit down to type with stability and precision. Everything about the design is built around this concept.

The Writer 2 is not a replacement for accessories like the Smart Cover, but it could well replace the current Smart Cover + Keyboard combo you might have been using. This is exactly what the Writer 2 has done for me.

Focus, Not Versatility

During the first week I threw all of my other accessories in the drawer and just used the iPad 2 inside of the Writer 2. This worked out beautifully for when I wanted to write in a café and the iPad even worked quite handily as a netbook-like device for surfing and e-mailing, but I was ultimately limiting myself by using the iPad in this manner.

I thought that the quick-eject system – composed of a plastic clip that you pinch out of the way – which allows me to insert or retrieve the iPad within seconds would be enough, but it wasn’t. I ultimately wanted faster and simpler access and I’ve been paranoid of breaking the rather fragile looking plastic clip.

But where was I? Oh, right, focus.

I learned very quickly that it was silly to confine myself to using the iPad 2 only inside of the Writer 2, as there were simply too many times that I’d miss the Smart Cover for simply propping the iPad up. A Smart Cover replacement this is not.

The Writer 2 is also rather clunky to use as a folio case, since the embedded Bluetooth keyboard is locked in landscape mode (whereas folios seem better in portrait), and the whole package tends to flop around whenever it’s not all the way open or closed.

The solution for me has been to carry both the Smart Cover and the Writer 2 around in my iPad bag. I use the former for reading and catching up on Twitter and the latter for browsing, writing, and messaging at a desk.

Stable, Precise, and Effortless Typing

A big part of the wow factor of this product has to do with the magnets embedded within: the Writer 2 can act like a Smart Cover to wake and sleep the iPad when you open or close the device. The mini Bluetooth keyboard is also intelligent enough to put itself to sleep when the whole package is closed.

That means that once everything is all paired up, all you have to do is place the Writer 2 on a desk, lift the iPad and keyboard up, and start typing away. It just works.

It doesn’t stop there, though. I used to use a Smart Cover and Apple Wireless Keyboard for writing on-the-go, and the Writer 2 totally trumps that combo package in terms of efficiency, comfort, and general utility. For starters, there’s the adjustability of the viewing angles – it’s really quite extreme. The Smart Cover really only ever allowed me to view the iPad screen while standing, but the Writer 2 lets me view and tap without toppling the tablet. It also feels like the designers knew that I’d be looking down at a tablet screen, which is something the Smart Cover simply doesn’t accommodate, with its stiff near–90-degree viewing angle.

I’ve also grown fond of the tiny keys on the Writer 2. There are special iOS-specific keys along the top of the keyboard for Home, Spotlight, photo slideshow, the on-screen keyboard toggle, sleep/wake, as well as standard media playback and volume controls. Most every one of these keys feels at home on the Writer 2, but for the sleep/wake switch, which is situated rather awkwardly above the delete key. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s jarring to have the iPad turn itself off when all you wanted to do was erase a word.

The QWERTY keys themselves are about 60–70% the size of a normal keyboard, but I’m comfortable enough with touch typing that I have no trouble with them.

(Well, that’s not completely true. The small right shift key does take a little bit of getting used to.)

Aside from that wayward key however, the Writer 2’s keys have just the right amount of travel for me. They’re not so easy to hit that you can’t rest your fingers on them, and they’re not so stiff that you need to hammer your fingers down on them. Goldilocks would be proud.

After a day or two of practice I found myself simply flying across the keyboard. It’s probably not a keyboard I’d want to use all day long, but for an extended writing session at a café, the Writer 2 is superb.

A Few Words on Battery Life

It’s still too hard to comment on battery life, but I placed the requisite three AAA batteries (which didn’t come in the box) in the Writer 2 about two weeks ago and haven’t looked back. The battery indicator along the left side is still glowing green, too, and I don’t think I have to worry about anything until it turns red.

I keep the Blueooth on all day long on my iPad 2 and have found that overall battery life is down from 10 hours to about 8.5 or so, but these numbers can vary greatly depending on what I’m doing.

More Words To Form A Conclusion

The iPad can be an enigmatic device and I constantly think about what I can and can’t use it for. The $89 Writer 2 adds beautifully to the list of possible iPad definitions by turning the device into a mobile writing package.

To put it a little more dramatically: the quickest way between two points is a straight line, and the quickest way to start writing on an iPad 2 is to open up a Writer 2.

The Writer 2 was provided by Adonit for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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