Though its name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, MiniSuit’s Keyboard Stand Case for the Nexus 7 reminds me so much of a small netbook that when using it I consistently reach for a track pad that isn’t there.
Howard and I were chatting last week about me making a tablet my primary computing device for a few days to see how I could get on. The truth is that I’ve already done that — the last two times I hopped on a plane I left my ThinkPad at home and ended up doing just fine without it.
A possible next step would be a blog post suitable for publication here written entirely on a tablet. Unfortunately I couldn’t quite do it — at least not to the same technical standards that a traditional computer allows. But this is due to various limitations of Android software, not the MiniSuit keyboard itself. So on with the review!
I first read about the MiniSuit on Android Central, and came across an eBay listing from the company while searching for a non-keyboard Nexus 7 case. $27.95 + $2.95 USD shipping to Canada seemed like a bargain, so I took a chance and ordered one.
Most of the MiniSuit is textured vinyl, made to look and feel like leather. I have no problem with that.
My favourite design feature is how the Nexus 7 fits into place opposite the keyboard — there are no hard clips that the tablet has to snap in to (and subsequently wear against), only a Velcro hinge to secure it. You do need to take care and ensure that the fit is snug; otherwise your tablet will start sagging, which looks weird.
A fold-out arm on the other side of the tablet sleeve props up the screen on a table or other flat surface. This is really the only way the MiniSuit can be used; propping it up on your lap won’t work.
Yes, I was a big fan of netbooks — running Linux, of course — so a smallish keyboard isn’t a problem for me. A 7-inch tablet would be roughly equal in size to the first-generation Eee PC, but the 1080p screen on the Nexus and the perfectly usable keyboard on the MiniSuit make this combination a lot more usable. The biggest challenge for me in entering the raw text for this post has been adjusting to a smaller screen size rather than the MiniSuit’s smaller keyboard; dropping down from a 23 to 7-inch display makes for tired eyes pretty quick.
The keys are big enough for home row touch typing, with only a few minor irritations. The second-row delete key is certainly not ideal, and selecting text the traditional way with the “Shift” + cursor keys doesn’t always work. My biggest gripe was having to enter an apostrophe via a function key combo, then I realized that I could just let Android do its auto-correction thing. Problem solved.
Pairing the MiniSuit to my Nexus was a cinch, and my tablet’s screen times out long before the keyboard’s Bluetooth connection does. Battery life on the keyboard seems commendable thus far — after two weeks of intermittent use it’s still on its first factory charge.
Keyboard aside, the MiniSuit still makes for a fine protective case. Sure, it easily more than doubles the thickness of the svelte Nexus 7, but it’s still much smaller than a traditional laptop. As seen in the writing of this post the combo of keyboard and tablet can’t yet replace said laptop (at least for this purpose), but for long-winded text input it’s a great solution.
I’ve observed that third-party keyboards for the iPad are quite popular; not being an iPad owner myself I can’t comment on how the MiniSuit compares. But if you’ve any further questions about this Nexus accessory then by all means ask away…