There are a lot of bluetooth keyboard options for the iPad and all of them sacrifice comfort for portability. It wasn’t until just recently that I learned that I could use my desktop USB keyboard with my iPad. With a little adapter made by Apple I can write with the comfort of a desktop keyboard and the convenience and flexibility of my iPad.
Apple makes an adapter called the USB camera adapter which connects your iPad directly to your camera. Although not officially supported by Apple, this adapter provides a standard low powered USB interface and works just fine with many USB keyboards. It even works with some wireless USB dongles like the Microsoft one I’m using to write this article. The result is a setup that is much better tailored for those who do a lot of writing.
When you first plug in the keyboard you will get an error dialog on the iPad warning you that the keyboard isn’t supported but all you have to do is click the “ok” button and everything works fine. I haven’t found a way to disable the warning but I don’t mind sacrificing the annoyance of an error dialog for the comfort of a full size keyboard.
I prefer this setup much more than I do writing on my MacBook Air because the screen and keyboard are separated so I can rest the keyboard on my lap and the screen on a pillow or arm of a chair. This setup is much more flexible giving me options for my couch, bed, kitchen table or even conference room.
With the right keyboard (I’m using the Microsoft Sculpt comfort keyboard) you can take this setup on the road. All you need to pack is the keyboard and the tiny adapter.
Many keyboards provide Mac specialized keys for volume and brightness which actually continue to work on the iPad. It is too bad that Apple doesn’t come right out and support USB keyboards, they are so much more comfortable for those of us who want to write on our iPads. I suspect the problem might have something to do with the power output of the iPad port which might not fully support the USB spec.
If you do a lot of writing and you’ve got a favorite USB desktop keyboard, make sure that it is compatible with the power requirements on the iPad (do a Google search) and go buy this little adapter. It will make writing on your iPad much more comfortable.