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This keyboard case gives the iPad Pro a pretty good trackpad



If you really, really want your iPad Pro to be a laptop, a new crowdfunding keyboard called Libra could be of interest. It's a laptop-style keyboard case similar to the Brydge model I tested a while back, but there's one big difference: this case has a trackpad.

If you did not know, iPadOS offers rudimentary mouse support. It's not very sophisticated and buried deep in the accessibility settings, but it's there. Previously, however, either an external mouse or this strange touch-sensitive keyboard was required for use, which I tried a few months ago. The Libra is the first solution I know to offer you a laptop-style trackpad.

I write a lot on my iPad Pro, and the constant need to access the screen when editing text is probably my biggest complaint about the device. It feels much more natural to keep your hands in the same position when typing and editing. What Steve Jobs said about touchscreen laptops is more applicable to the iPad Pro than any other Windows alternative, since you can at least use a trackpad.

How well does the balance work? Actually better than I expected. Of course, the trackpad is not nearly as good as what you would get on a MacBook. For one, it is smaller and does not let you click anywhere on the surface. But his performance is surprisingly solid. I've used many, many worse trackpads on computers running operating systems designed for them.

The Libra trackpad has limited support for gestures. You can swipe down with two fingers to scroll while returning to the home screen with three fingers, which I found very useful. The creators of Libra, Sentis, say they are working on more gestures like "pinch to zoom," but it's not working right now, and it's unclear how it's supported in iPadOS.


For me, the most important thing is what matters The trackpad is good for pointing the cursor and selecting text by dragging. The scales, however, takes some getting used to and it is clear that iPadOS should not always be used that way. For example, the cursor returns to the center of the screen when you return to the Home screen while the trackpad's smallest brush is tapping, which can lead to unexpected inputs. But in the tight context of writing and editing texts, I like to use the scales. It's certainly better to touch the screen.

The keyboard itself is not spectacular, and the keys are a bit small – the width is fine, but I think the caps would have consumed one or two extra millimeters of vertical height. The RGB backlight is also weak and uneven. However, it's not a bad experience and I suspect that most people would prefer the keyfeel to Apple's current MacBook range. The metal case feels reasonably stable. It has a wedge-shaped design in MacBook Air style and a "Space Gray" surface that fits well with Apple. C ports – one to charge the keyboard and another to charge other devices. The 4,000mAh battery should last for up to 200 days of battery life, so you can connect your phone for charging in no time. Of course you can do that from the iPad as well, but it's a good option if you're trying to save energy on the tablet.

There are some issues with the scale I would hope to see fixed before it goes to final production. The keyboard uses similar hinges as the Brydge, but they are not that good – they do not hold the iPad tight enough for it to slip out easily. I would not feel comfortable if I put the combination in my pocket like a laptop.

I also do not think the 120 degree opening angle is big enough – I find it difficult to see the Libra screen when I use the Libra on my lap. For a desk, the situation is better, and I'm 6 feet 4 inches tall, so it's probably less of a problem for most people, but you'd expect a laptop-style keyboard to be more suitable for use on your lap. Again, there is no problem with the Brydge, which opens up to 180 degrees.

However, Libra has a unique selling point and works better than I thought. If you're a writer, the trackpad has a big impact on the productivity of the iPad, and I hope there's a better version of this product – from Sentis, Brydge, or whoever. In the meantime, crowdfunding for the Libra is on Kickstarter and is available from $ 109. Shipping is expected to begin in January.



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