The keyboard has been used as a standard input device ever since personal computers began appearing in the 1980s, and even in today's world of ultra-thin laptops and touch-screen tablets, the keyboard is still going strong. While the iPad's built-in on-screen keyboard is perfectly functional, an external physical keyboard is often more comfortable and efficient.
How Do iPad Keyboards Connect?
The majority of iPad-compatible keyboards connect using wireless Bluetooth technology. This shortwave radio transmission standard is built into every iPad model and enables your tablet to "pair" with different devices -- be they keyboards, speakers or hard drives -- and transmit data without the need for wires. After they are paired, Bluetooth devices connect automatically and can send and receive data. A paired Bluetooth keyboard tells your iPad which keys are being pressed, which corresponds to actions on the tablet's screen.
For wireless keyboards to work correctly, you'll need to activate Bluetooth on your iPad and pair it with your keyboard of choice. The Bluetooth options can be found in the Settings app available on the home screen, while the pairing process typically involves entering a four-digit code on the computer the first time the keyboard is connected. When the external keyboard is recognized and connected, the on-screen keyboard is not displayed when typing is required.
Why Use a Keyboard for Your iPad?
Connecting an external keyboard to your iPad makes for a more fluid and comfortable typing experience. If you have a lot of text to input on a regular basis, a standard keyboard enables you to type faster for longer than the default on-screen keyboard. External devices also give tactile, physical feedback, which you may prefer. Many keyboards also double as stands or covers for your iPad tablet, giving you more reasons to consider buying an additional device.
Choosing a Keyboard
A wide variety of keyboards are available for all iPad models. When choosing one to buy, weigh the keyboard layout and any additional features such as shortcut keys or microUSB port. If you want the added benefit of a charging dock, protective case or tablet stand with your keyboard, make sure these options are included on the model you've chosen and that you've picked the right size keyboard for your iPad. Check recent reviews on the Web for details of the style and feel, potential battery life and performance of your chosen keyboard before making a purchase.
- Photo Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images