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Commodore Plus/4 Series

4 July 2015

BULLET REVIEW: NewTrent Airbender 3.0

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags:

A little over a year ago I reviewed the NewTrent Airbender 2.0. About a week ago, NewTrent sent an offer to review an upgrade, the NewTrent Airbender 3.0. The main new feature is support for the iPad Air 2 as well as the original iPad Air (the model I own and use regularly). I wondered if there were significant improvements to the original 2.0 and accepted the offer. A couple of days later, it arrived.

I really like the original Airbender, although admittedly, I grew tired of the bulk and later moved to the more svelte Zagg iPad Air bluetooth keyboard. What I did miss from the original Airbender was the protection it afforded the iPad Air. The system felt like a tank. I expected no less from this newer model as visually it is identical to the original.

To review this upgrade, I will begin with the original pros and cons from the Airbender 2.0 bullet review and then comment on modifications. At the end of the bullet review, I include images of this new model. There really isn’t much difference so if you want to see the different configurations possible, I recommend you view my Airbender 2.0 review. Time for my bullet review below.

Pros

Huge price reduction. At less than $40 on Amazon, this keyboard is a steal.

This feature is still a rarity and one I am glad the Airbender 3.0 still supports.

As a matter of fact, the stability on this case is better than any other I have used and that is likely due to the fact that this thing is built like a tank and utilizes a support arm made of metal.

No change, but do look at the images in the previous post to understand how this works.

The one feature I miss the most from the Zagg I use currently.

Still no key for Spotlight, but let’s hope that feature is available in iOS 9.

This light and the others on the top of the keyboard provide visuals that are often not included on other keyboards.

Still very fast.

Keys are in locations that make typing on this reduced keyboard both comfortable and accurate. Additional system keys on the top row make access to other features quick and easy. This really is a good keyboard and the switches seem tighter than the previous version. The updated keyboard alone makes this case worth the upgrade.

If you use the Apple Keyboard, you will continue to find yourself at home on the Airbender 3.0.

Battery life continues to be excellent with this model.

Opening the box was a good experience. You feel like you are opening a premium product.

Cons

This case is still a beast and if you want protection for your iPad Air combined with maximum configuration flexibility, you will be able to overlook this. Added to this new model is a rubber latch to keep the keyboard and cover from opening accidentally. I really don’t like it (see image in gallery below). It sticks up when typing and gets in the way. I never had a problem with the 2.0 version so not sure why they included it on the 3.0.

I would disagree now. I was able to take the keyboard out of the box, charge and connect to my iPad Air in less than a few minutes. You really don’t need instructions for this thing.

Ditto.

This is an area I had hoped NewTrent would address. I get that it costs more; however, etching the keys would just complete the package and up the premium feel and quality of the product.

Which is another reason I like the Zagg, but at $40, do I really need to spend an additional $50 for this feature for the few times I need it?

That is unless you like tanks and as a retired Armor officer, I do!

Recommendation

After typing this bullet review on the Airbender 3.0, I find myself wanting to spend time with this keyboard again. I enjoy the feel of the keyboard and actually found I could type faster and more accurately on the Airbender 3.0 keyboard than I can on my new Macbook. The Airbender 3.0 is an excellent keyboard and case combination for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 user. I stand by my original review that this is the best case and keyboard combination you can buy at $40 and despite the bulky case, can even hold its own against case and keyboard combinations costing $100 or more.

Gallery

Below are some images of the Airbender 3.0. Comments are below each image.

NewTrent provides a premium packaging experience with their keyboard. ** The back of the box. ** There are few physical changes between the Airbender 2.0 and 3.0… ** …except for this new latch, which I find completely unnecessary and a nuisance while typing. ** The Airbender 3.0 without iPad Air. ** Still no etched keys. ** Quick access to indicators lights and controls make pairing and using the keyboard with the iPad Air a breeze. ** Pairing the iPad Air with the Airbender 3.0. ** I am holding the keyboard and iPad in place as it will tip over in the current configuration. To use, you must extend the support bar from the back. ** To use the support bar, you have to move this slider and then pull the support bar out of the back of the case. When the Airbender is new, this is a tight fit. It gets smoother with more use. ** Here’s a new physical feature, the NewTrent logo on the keyboard. This was not found on 2.0. *** This is what the system looks like from the back when you properly have the support bar in place. This support bar allows several angles of the screen.

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