Review: Kensington KeyFolio Executive Mobile Organiser

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An Apple Pin-Up Boy

As you might have gathered if you read my article about having Too Much Carry On, I’ve got something of an obsession with my electronics when I’m on the road. One comment even went so far as to label me an Apple pin up boy, and I guess that’s true. I’ve had an iPod since 2007, an iPhone since 2010, and an iPad since 2012.

Oh, ipad! You look smashing today!
Oh, ipad! You look smashing today!

If you want to get technical, though, I’ve been using Apple since I was old enough to sit down in front of a computer and make use of it. My very first computer experience came on an Apple IIe (the ol’ black and green screen), and the first computer I owned myself was my trusty old LC 575 on which I’d tap out game designs, novel ideas, and love letters I’d never send.

I went to university with a garishly pink iMac that my friends called ‘the jellybean’ and the less charitable labeled ‘a screaming sign of gayness’.

While these days I blog from a more generic PC, my betrayal of Apple and all things Mac was a switch of necessity in many ways. When the aforementioned Pink Jellybean went to the computer graveyard, I couldn’t afford a new Mac, but a friend sold me his old PC for $400.

Plus, and this remains important to this day: it can play video games!

So, while I doubt there are Apple computers putting up tasteful yet provocative shots of me in various states of undress in their cubicles, I guess ‘Apple pin-up boy’ is a pretty apt description.

When iDisaster Strikes!

My iPad had lasted just on a year when it had its first run in with disaster. The Sims FreePlay had been consuming my then girlfriend’s waking hours, and even though we were on vacation in Thailand, she had managed to find some time to check on her Sims in the most logical of places: the bathroom.

I was blissfully ignorant of my iPad’s perilous situation as I lay on the bed scrolling through my Facebook feed, but a thud and a startled cry alerted me to the very real danger my beloved purveyor of distraction was in.

My tearful girlfriend burst out of the bathroom holding a shattered iPad – all because of the fall from her lap to the tile floor. An innocuous enough bump for a Nokia, perhaps, but fatal for the comparatively fragile iPad.

Attempting to fix the problem only made it worse, as the dodgy back alley iPad doctor we found in Chiang Mai not only failed to replace the screen, but managed to destroy my iPad’s ability to pick up WiFi signal in the same gross case of electronic malpractice.

My iPad would become an expensive paperweight until I could return to Australia and fork out a few hundred dollars for a trade-in replacement, but I vowed never to leave my iPad’s life to chance again.

I needed protection.

Bodyguards where black suits and black shades. Why shouldn't your iPad look that cool?
Bodyguards where black suits and black shades. Why shouldn’t your iPad look that cool?

The Bodyguard

I needed a Kevin Costner to the Whitney Houston (may she rest in peace) that was my iPad, and so I began to audition replacements in earnest.

I initially settled for the generic case that Apple sells off the shelves. While it was suitably dapper and did the job of protecting my iPad from further bathroom accidents, it just screamed ‘generic’.

I then auditioned the Snugg iPad case I mentioned in the Too Much Carry On article. It looked the part and had a certain leather-bound book and rich mahogany charm that the Apple branded case didn’t, but it was all style and no substance.

What I needed was something that could turn my iPad from Girl Friday to the kind of girl you’d introduce to your mother.

I needed to turn my iPad from an expensive handheld gaming console into something I could use to boost my productivity.

Enter the KeyFolio Executive Mobile Organiser

I was preparing to leave China when Kensington asked me if I’d like to road test the KeyFolio Executive Mobile Organiser (try saying that ten times fast). With Whitney still very much in search of somebody strong yet sensitive to take care of her, I leaped at the opportunity.

The first thing you notice about the KeyFolio when you open it is that it’s a substantial unit. This isn’t a lightweight iPad case – it’s a thick, dark, leathery case that looks great and offers great protection as well. Suddenly, my iPad wasn’t just protected, she was looking smart too.

Open up the organiser and you see it’s a little more than just an iPad case.

Bluetooth Keyboard

A slim Bluetooth keyboard (the smallest and lightest of the three I’ve owned) is tucked away inside, ready to turn the iPad from gaming station to blogging machine. With the right apps for travel bloggers installed, it’s suddenly very feasible to use the iPad to do all of my blogging – rather than just as a place to hastily tap out notes. Unlike my previous two keyboard cases, it also comes with a handy USB charger with which to charge the keyboard.

The ultra slim keyboard is lightweight, meaning you don't do yourself an injury carrying it around.
The ultra slim keyboard is lightweight, meaning you don’t do yourself an injury carrying it around.

Perhaps none of this sounds remarkable to you yet. After all, there is no shortage of keyboard cases out there for iPad. Hell, I’ve owned two others before. What makes the KFEMO stand out?

Storage Space

For one, it’s got a handy pocket inside the case into which you can put business cards, pens, and other essentials for looking terribly professional while using your iPad. The pockets could just as easily be used to accommodate your passport, driver’s license, or a little cash as well – if you’re an ‘every egg in one basket’ kind of guy.

Old Meets New

The other feature that I love about the case is one that blends the new world convenience of the iPad with the old world practicality of a traditional notepad. Sometimes your iPad will run out of battery or you’ll just feel that getting your ideas down on paper makes them feel more official.

Side by side. A match made in heaven.
Side by side. A match made in heaven.

The organiser has a built in space for you to store a pad (up to 7″ x 9.5″) so that you’ve got both options at your fingertips. You can scribble notes onto the notepad and, when it comes time to commit them to the vault that is the internet, you can fire up the keyboard and type out your thoughts for the entire world to see.

 The Verdict

Since taking the iPlunge and iPurchasing an iPad, I’ve gone through two iPads and a total of six cases now. My shiny new KeyFolio Executive Mobile Organiser is by far my favourite of these for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, its bluetooth keyboard/notepad combination is a Godsend for me. I often use my iPad for blogging, but I do like the tactile sensation of writing on paper from time to time. I’ve got dozens of notebooks lying around in storage that I always forget to bring when I absolutely need one, so having one chained to my iPad is of great use to me.

The extra storage space for pens, pencils, business cards, and the like is also likely to come in handy for me. I never remember my Aussie on the Road business cards when I’m on the road (ironic, eh?) and I can see myself depositing my passport here rather than carrying around a second case for it everywhere I go.

While the size and weight of the case may make it less than ideal for day to day backpacker style travel, I’ve long ago stopped trying to pretend that is who I am. I’m a guy who likes his private rooms, his halfway decent food, and his little luxuries when he’s on the road. Shouldn’t my iPad get the same kind of pampering?

 

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