Some of us don’t want to drop an additional $100 on a keyboard cover that won’t even protect the back of the $500+ iPad Air we just bought. That’s when Anker comes in with its TC930 Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air ($29.99). It’s very similar to the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, and works about as well. However, as expected for a product that costs less than half as much, it doesn’t feel quite as premium as the Logitech or Belkin’s QODE Thin Type. The keyboard itself is fairly comfortable to type on, but the keys are a little small and cramped. Also, the hinge is the same as the previous generation of Smart Covers, which was accused of scratching the side of the iPad it would attach to due to its aluminum construction. Still, considering the price, there is little to complain about here.
Much like keyboard covers that demand premium prices, the TC930’s outer shell is made of anodized aluminum and is a little grainier than the finish on the Logitech and Belkin, as well as the iPad’s itself. Even so, you would be hard-pressed to tell the TC930 apart from the Logitech from the outside. At 9.4 by 6.9 by 0.3 inches (HWD), the TC930 is very similar in size to both the Logitech and the Belkin. It’s also about the same weight as the Logitech at 11.6 ounces, which is almost 2 ounces lighter than the heavier Belkin. The keys are surrounded by a somewhat cheap-looking, shiny black plastic that reveals finger-prints only a forensic analyst would love. The two rather large, clunky rubber bumpers at the corners give the TC930 a slightly less refined look compared with the Logitech and Belkin’s styled and streamlined bumpers.
You’ll find Anker’s signature pop-up support stand above the weak magnetic groove where you place your iPad for use. The moment the iPad is inserted into the groove, the stand is triggered to pop up automatically to help support the iPad—although the groove on its own can support the iPad just as well as other keyboard covers, so there doesn’t seem to be a real need for the support stand. If anything, it’s another moving part that could break if given the opportunity. Interestingly, however, the iPad rests at a slightly wider angle without the stand, which means the TC930 potentially has two viewing angle options, but at a mere three degrees, the difference is negligible.
Like most keyboard covers, the TC930 offers protection for the iPad’s screen, but not its back. The magnetic hinge that attaches the cover to your iPad’s left edge is a leftover from the first generation of Smart Covers, which is flimsy and often criticized for scuffing the iPad’s side after extended use because its aluminum construction. A common deficiency in keyboard covers is a weak magnetic hinge connection, and the TC930 is no different. Still, like its competition, the TC930 can hold an iPad in the air even after a few light shakes.
On the top right edge of the keyboard, you’ll find an On/Off switch along with a micro USB port for charging with the included cable. Pairing the keyboard via Bluetooth is relatively painless; simply hold the Fn key and press the C key, which has a clear Bluetooth symbol on it. Anker claims the battery should last around six months between charges with an average two hours of daily use.
The chiclet-style keys have surprisingly deep travel and springy feedback when you consider how thin this cover is. However, they are a little small and cramped for my taste, especially the numbers row at the top where the Delete key is also found. The keyboard’s top edge is extremely close to the iPad’s screen, too, which could result in accidental screen touches. In my case, my finger would tap the bottom right of the screen whenever I reached for the tiny Delete key, which would relocate the blinking cursor to the bottom right of my document. On the plus side, I was pleased to find brightness controls along with the usual iPad-specific function keys; it’s a useful feature that Logitech and Belkin omitted from their keyboard covers.
For $29.99, Anker’s TC930 is an absolute bargain when you consider how similar in form and function it is to the much pricier Logitech and Belkin. It does have its downfalls, such as a slightly cramped keyboard as well as a previous-generation magnetic hinge, but these are fairly minor grumbles; it does what it’s supposed to do very well. If you covet premium looks and feel over value, you might consider Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, or Belkin’s QODE Thin Type Keyboard Case. If total protection is important to you, you’ll either need a separate, compatible shell or a full body case like the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Folio or Zagg Folio Keyboard.