I don't use a keyboard with my iPad all the time, so for me, it is overkill to have an iPad case with a keyboard built-in. There is no reason to add extra weight to my iPad all of the time. But when I do use a keyboard, I want it to be a good keyboard so that I can type just as easily as if I was using the PC in my office or my Mac at home. For a long time now, Apple has made one of the best Bluetooth keyboards for the iPad. First, Apple made the Apple Wireless Keyboard. On October 15, 2015, Apple retired the Apple Wireless Keyboard and replaced it with the thinner and lighter Apple Magic Keyboard. Perhaps one of the reasons that these keyboards are so good is that they are not designed to just be iPad keyboards; these are the same keyboards that Apple has sold with its desktop computers such as the iMac.
Apple's keyboards don't come with any sort of a case. If you are carrying them around in a purse or briefcase, this means that it is possible for something to get under a key cap and break off a key. It has never happened to me, but I know other attorneys who have met this fate. Thus, it makes sense to have a case for the keyboard.
Back in 2012, I reviewed a great keyboard case called the Origami Workstation for iPad by Incase. That product provided a cover for the Apple Wireless Keyboard, and as a bonus also folded into a stand so that you could prop up an iPad while you used the keyboard. But Incase did not update that product in 2015 when Apple released the Apple Magic Keyboard.
Studio Neat filled that void by creating the Canopy, a product that works with the Apple Magic Keyboard and is even better than that old Origami Workstation. Studio Neat sent me a free review unit of this $40 product, and I have been trying it out for the last few weeks. It works really well.
The Canopy works great as a case. It uses micro-suction pads – not glue. They keep the Apple Magic Keyboard firmly in place. But you can remove the keyboard from the Canopy without leaving a mark, and these suction pads don't lose their stickiness when you remove the keyboard.
To protect the keyboard, just fold up the Canopy around it, and snap the button. It would be virtually impossible for something in your briefcase or purse to damage the Apple Magic Keyboard when it is inside of the Canopy.
One of the nice features of the Apple Magic Keyboard is that it is thin and light. Fortunately, the Canopy is as well. The exterior is a synthetic canvas which is strong but light. And it has a nice professional look to it as well. I will often walk around my office to go to a meeting room with my Apple Pencil in a shirt or coat pocket and my iPad Pro and the Canopy (with keyboard) in one hand. With that combination, I can use my keyboard to type notes as if I want to type, or I can use my Apple Pencil to write or annotate whenever that makes more sense for whatever work I am doing.
Moreover, because the Canopy and keyboard are so thin and light, you can just keep them in a briefcase, purse, messenger bag, etc. all of the time. That way, you have the keyboard for whenever you need it, but it is out of the way if you don't need it.
The interior of the Canopy is a soft microfiber, so it won't scratch the keyboard when you fold the Canopy around it.
When typing with an external keyboard, you will usually want the iPad screen to be propped up. I use an Apple Smart Cover for my iPad, and it folds up into a stand that props up my iPad at a nice angle. But with enough pressure, the Smart Cover-as-stand will collapse.
In contrast, the Canopy is very strong when it is being used as a stand. You simply unfold the Canopy and use the leather strap and stainless steel snap to create a sort of a tent to act as the stand. The snap is very secure, so the stand is very secure as well. I have been using the Canopy with my iPad Pro 12.9" and even though this larger version of the iPad Pro is wider than the Canopy itself, the Canopy has no trouble holding this larger and wider iPad.
And by the way, if — like me — you used to use the Incase Origami Workstation, the Canopy is much better. Unlike the Origami Workstation which used Velcro straps which wore down over time, the snap is very strong.
I've used the Canopy with my iPad Pro over the last few weeks both when I have been in a meeting in a conference room in my office, and also when I was traveling and relying on my iPad to get all of my work done. Whether I was in my office, at a meeting outside of the office, or in a hotel room catching up on work at the end of the day, the Canopy worked really well.
I didn't try smaller iPads with the Canopy, but I'm sure that they would work just as well. I did try an iPhone, and that also worked — although I only rarely have a need to use an external keyboard with an iPhone. The Canopy is specifically designed for the Apple Magic Keyboard, so I doubt it would work with any other keyboard. But you can put any size iOS device in the stand, so even if you currently use an older 9.7" iPad and you plan to update to a 12.9" iPad Pro, the Canopy will continue to work great with different iPad sizes.
An iPad (or iPhone) just sits right behind the keyboard on the Canopy when it is in its stand mode. It works really great on a table. But if you are planning to put the Canopy on your lap, I didn't find that very stable with my iPad Pro 12.9". It works just OK if you are laying back on a couch or bed. Thus, the Canopy works best when you are at a table.
Although my second-generation iPad Pro 12.9" is still running iOS 10, I also have a first-generation iPad Pro 12.9" which is running the beta version if iOS 11. In iOS 11, you need to swipe up from the bottom to make the dock appear when you are in another app, and you need to swipe up from the bottom to make the Control Center appear. Those functions worked great on an iPad Pro 12.9" even when the iPad was sitting in the Canopy stand.
I don't have access to a new 10.5" iPad Pro running iOS 11, but I know that the 10.5" iPad Pro has an even thinner bezel. I mention this because I don't know if the thinner bezel will make it harder to swipe from the bottom of the screen in iOS 11 while it is sitting in the Canopy being used as a case. I'll update this post whenever I have a chance to test that out.
[UPDATE: Here is what Studio Neat told me about the 10.5" iPad Pro and the Canopy: "On the 10.5” iPad Pro, the keyboard does not obstruct the screen, but it is indeed difficult to swipe up from the bottom edge due to the reduced bezel size. Thankfully, Apple has implemented a keyboard shortcut in iOS 11 to bring up the dock (Command + Option + D)." That's a good point, and frankly a keyboard shortcut sounds faster than swiping up anyway.]
This is the third product I have reviewed from the folks at Studio Neat, and every single one of them has been excellent — featuring a clever design, high-quality materials and nice construction. (I previously reviewed the Material Dock and the Glif + Hand Grip.) These guys know what they are doing.
The Apple Magic Keyboard is a great external Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad, but the Canopy by Studio Neat turns it into a much better and more useful product. The Incase Origami Workstation was a pretty good product for its time, but the Canopy + Apple Magic Keyboard combination is better in every way: smaller, lighter, more stable, and longer-lasting thanks to the use of a snap instead of Velcro. Indeed, the Canopy works so well that it makes me want to use an external keyboard with my iPad even more, and this is good timing for that because iOS 11 will have even better keyboard support when it comes out this month.