So you have an HTC Nexus 9 tablet—and you love it. You’ve downloaded all your favorite apps, fussed around with all the settings, and added some widgets here and there. Throughout your day you turn to your handy stock Android tablet to take notes, check movie times, or play a game while waiting for your train to arrive. It works great for all of those things, but sometimes you wish it had a real physical keyboard.
For all those times you’d rather be clacking away on a physical keyboard, we tested five that are either compatible with or specifically designed for the Nexus 9.
HTC Keyboard Folio Case for the Nexus 9
HTC’s official Nexus 9 case is both a highly portable keyboard and a protective case for your tablet. The case is just large enough to wrap around the Nexus 9 like a polyurethane book, while the tablet stays locked in to it via three rows of magnets that are also used when folding up the case to prop up the tablet. The case charges via MicroUSB, and though it’s advertised that it can manage up to five months worth of battery life on a single charge, we were unable to test this ourselves. Surely, they're referring to standby time.
Pairing is easy, and once it’s paired, the connection never wavers, even after repeatedly taking the tablet in and out of the case. The keys give satisfying feedback, and while each of the individual keys are packed in a little tight, it only takes a few minutes to adjust your fingers between typing marathons.
The beauty of having a keyboard built into the case is that you’re never without it. But the downside is that it’s a bit heavy, and makes it occasionally awkward to use the tablet in portrait mode. Also, the magnets don’t hold on to the Nexus 9 that well.
All in all, the keys on HTC’s Keyboard Folio case are comfortable to type on for long periods of time and it’s the most fluid to use, but its price tag might make you rethink bringing it home.
Logitech K480 Keyboard
Of the few complaints I have about Logitech’s K480, ease of use and functionality are not among them. This keyboard, which comes in both black and yellow and plain white, is the only one on our list that uses alkaline batteries—in this case, it requires two AAA’s. The keyboard comes bundled with a pair already installed, which Logitech swears will last up to two years. Of course, you’ll still need to ensure you have a pair lying around for when it eventually dies.
Logitech’s K480 keyboard is not very portable, either, though that is offset by its stellar typing experience. I liked the distance of spacing between the keys, which allowed me to pick up to my regular typing speed in no time, and it’s comfortable to rest on either a flat surfaces, or on my lap. Overall, it’s a fluid and intuitive typing experience, though it makes a terribly loud clacking sound, which may eventually irritate a coworker or family member sitting nearby. Moreover, the K480 feels like a budget option, so its $50 price tag fits the bill.
There’s no lying about its size and weight: the Logitech K480 is not an easily traveler, but it works so well and is so affordable, that I found myself overlooking that fact in the end.
ZAGGKeys Universal Compact Ergonomic Keyboard
The ZAGGKeys Ergonomic Keyboard consists of two parts: a curved keyboard with rubber feet and a slim cover with a rotating piece on the spine that folds out to act as a base for a smartphone or keyboard. The only thing that actually makes it universal is the toggle button on the underneath of the right side that lets you switch between different devices.
Since this isn’t a keyboard case, the keys have more room to breathe. That makes typing more fluid, though it also means that you have to carry around the keyboard as a separate accessory. However, the separate base makes it so that the tablet can be placed anywhere somewhere else, like on a living room table while you’re sitting comfortably on the couch.
I noticed keys getting stuck between long bouts of typing, then read that this is apparently an issue that’s also plagued a few other users. It’s easy to fix: all you have to do is hit delete and exit the app you’re working in, though it’s a huge pain in the butt. The last thing you want to do is take a break from work because the keyboard isn’t working properly.
Kensington Universal Fit KeyFolio
Kensington’s Universal KeyFolio Fit for Android tablets offers a nice amount of space between the keys, including a row of dedicated shortcut keys for jumping to the Home screen or pausing songs. But there is still one gaping issue with it: it doesn’t actually fit the Nexus 9.
The KeyFolio is a tri-fold keyboard case, so it opens like a TrapperKeeper. Instead of using magnets to attach the tablet, the KeyFolio uses a four-cornered silicone base, which utilizes loops in each corner to attach to the tablet. However, the Nexus 9 is too small to hold tension to all four loops at once, so it sags and can’t be held in place.
Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard
Microsoft’s Universal Mobile Keyboard is quite light and portable. It’s easy to carry around and its soft-touch bottom keeps it from slipping around on any surface. It’s rechargeable via MicroUSB, and features a Home screen shortcut. There are also dedicated keys for Search and music playback, as well as a toggle button to switch back and forth between three different devices.
The keys are nicely spaced out and didn’t make distracting noises when hit. The extra buttons came in handy for me frequently, and I didn’t get tired when typing on the keyboard for longer stretches. Overall, I like what this keyboard offers: the detachable stand is great and the Bluetooth connection to the Nexus 9 was solid.
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