Product Review: Digital Treasures Props Power & Keyboard Case for the iPad

The Digital Treasures Power and Keyboard Case roll several iPad accessories into one. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
What do you mean, it isn’t a laptop? The Digital Treasures Power and Keyboard Case rolls several iPad accessories into one. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

I’m pleased to review the Props Power and Keyboard iPad case. Of the numerous cases I’ve tried out, this one is by far the most substantial. Not only is it a quality leather case, but it also includes a Bluetooth keyboard, and underneath the keyboard is a battery pack that can be used to charge the connected iPad or even other devices. There are some limitations to some of the features so read on and see if this is the right iPad accessory for you.

In fact, I am typing this entire review for you on my iPad, using this Bluetooth keyboard.

What Comes in the Box

Features

This is a well-made case. The iPad can slip into the case using a flap—a technique that’s common in many tablet cases. The case has a leather exterior with red stitching and lightweight rubberized interior. The case does a good job allowing users to maintain a grip. The case has notches cut into the front for the home button and FaceTime camera. A hole is cut into the back side of the case for the camera.

The Bluetooth keyboard easily connects with the iPad; the instruction pamphlet has the PIN required to make the link. As I’ll explain in the following section, I’ve yet to have the iPad and keyboard automatically discover each other. That being said, it’s very easy for the two to connect, even when done manually. The connection buttons are easily accessible. The company claims that one can get up to 3,000 hours of Bluetooth keyboard time if you don’t use the battery for any other purposes. I have not worked 3,000 hours to tell you whether this is true, but I did not have to recharge the pack once for the first two weeks, when all I did was use the keyboard.

The case offers the ability to have the iPad sit like a laptop screen in front of the keyboard is well done, which is pretty standard in the case market. The rubber interior surface makes it easy to maintain that propped-up configuration without slipping. The angle for the configuration is on the steep side, I had to slouch to see the screen properly while I’m sitting on a bar stool.

The keyboard is a full-service QWERTY configuration, complete with cursor arrow buttons and a “Function” key capability. You even have the standard MacBook brightness and iTunes keys along the top row. The keys are smaller, meaning if you’re used to touch-typing on a full sized keyboard, you will have to slow down some to get used to the smaller setup.

I really like this keyboard, since my regular computer happens to be a MacBook. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
I really like this keyboard, since my regular computer happens to be a MacBook. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

The battery is 8000 mAh, a greater capacity than the Solar Joos Orange I had reviewed back in April. When you plug in the keyboard via the USB cable, it will charge the battery pack. This same battery pack powers the keyboard. Use the MicroUSB-to-female USB connector with your tablet’s USB cable to use the battery pack.

The control panel will show you the charge remaining on the top row, and controls the Bluetooth features on the bottom row. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The control panel will show you the charge remaining on the top row, and controls the Bluetooth features on the bottom row. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

I was pleased to see that you can use the battery pack to charge your devices at the same time as using the Bluetooth keyboard. I was worried that might not have worked.

The short cable -- more of a dongle, really -- came with the case. Use it with your device's USB charging cable to use the battery as a charger. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The short cable—more of a dongle, really—came with the case. Use it with your device’s USB charging cable to use the battery as a charger. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Need for Improvement

  • You know how many iPad cases have magnets that will put your iPad to sleep when you close the cover? This cover has that feature as well, except there are some functionality issues with it. Perhaps the magnets on this case are too powerful? Flipping the cover behind the iPad—such as for reading—will lock the iPad. There is a leather flap that flips out for your wrists while typing. That flap, when tucked in while the protective leather flap for the keyboard keeps it from locking.
  • Magnetic flap to secure case when closed. What to do with the flap when you’re using the iPad? I’m not sure!
This flap just sorta sits there in the way when you're trying to type with the keyboard. I've slipped it in behind the iPad, but I'm not sure that was what the manufacturer had in mind. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
This flap just sits there in the way when you’re trying to type with the keyboard. I’ve slipped it in behind the iPad, but I’m not sure that was what the manufacturer had in mind. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
  • There is a screen-lock key in upper right corner where ordinarily there’s a “Backspace” key. Look at the closeup photo of the keyboard above and you will see it. It’s very close to the backspace key and before I got accustomed to the smaller keyboard, I was locking the screen constantly. I used the backspace key a lot.
  • Heavy. I’m not sure if you can really improve on this, since the battery pack is one of the features of this product. Be prepared for your iPad to gain a lot of weight. The PROPS case with my iPad 2 weighs 43.2 ounces, compared to the 38-ounce 11″ MacBook Air.
  • Users need to understand that this is not a quick-charge product. Recharging the battery pack from A/C power took about 2 hours, and I measured about 10% per hour charge when the battery pack was charging my iPad. However, the battery drained only about 10% per hour, which is some of the best capacity I’ve ever experienced for a mobile device charger.
  • On/Off key for Bluetooth keyboard is a small slider switch. On the review case I received, the slider switch seemed loose, and it’s difficult to look at the switch and see whether it’s in the “on” or “off” position. See the picture of the controls above.
  • Bluetooth discovery. For other Bluetooth products that I use with my iPad, when I turn on the product, the iPad will automatically detect it. With this case, it seemed intermittent. I’m not sure why. I have to take a minute to go into the settings and “Connect” the “Props Power and Keyboard Case”.

Summary

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This is a case worth investing in if you (a) use your iPad for a lot of typing and/or (b) you are a high-use iPad user who often struggles with low battery before getting it on a charger. Understand its limitations in functionality and I think this is still worth owning.

The Props Power & Keyboard Case is available for the iPad 2, 3, and 4, as well as for the iPad Mini and some Android devices. The model I reviewed retails for $109.99, but can be found at retailers such as Amazon for as little as $90.50.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 15. She is a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which is currently in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.