We were able to get our hands on the Crux360, courtesy of the folks over at CruxCase, for the Apple iPad 2. There are plenty of good things going on with this product and a few minor things we did not care much for in the design. We have spent nearly a month with this product trying it in different environments to see how it holds up in rigorous use. The case has a full motion hinge that sets this case and keyboard combination on another level. Check out hands-on video after the break.
Design and Exterior:
Right out of the box the Crux360 is enclosed in a thin black carry pouch. Once you take Crux360 out of the pouch you are met with the touch of a matte black finish that gives you a nice grip on the case. The choice to use matte material for accessories is always something we have found to be a good choice.
The top part of the case is thin with a lack of felt lining and detaches to accommodate sliding the iPad 2 inside. The lack of felt lining on the inside really makes it hard for the iPad 2 to be removed out of the case easily. It took quite a few tugs back and forth until we were able to remove the iPad 2 out of the case. We don’t always fancy when users have to put to much effort in removing their devices out of protective cases or accessories, but if your using this consistently then we suppose you won’t be taking the iPad 2 out to often anyway. There was a huge opening on the top of this case which leaves the Apple logo and much of the rear of the iPad 2 shell exposed to the elements. We suppose this exposure is present to either allow users an area to grip on their iPad for removing it out of the case or to leave the Apple logo bare for aesthetic purposes. Whatever the case we would have preferred some sort of covering in this area, whether it was translucent or not.
Around the right rim of the device is a Micro-USB port that is used for charging the 510 mAh battery that powers the Crux360, unfortunately that battery does not support power to the tablet itself. CruxCase rates the battery as having 120 hours of usage time and 1000 hours of standby time. The case adds 1.55 pounds of additional weight to the iPad 2 and its dimensions are sized at 9.7×8.0x.08 inches (WxDxH). Along the outer ridge of the keyboard there are four round rare earth magnets that assist in automatically turning the iPad on and off and acting as a smart cover.
One of the more intriguing things about this case was the 360 degree full motion hinge that was very versatile. We had it turning in some many ways using the device in the four main positions of function which include the Laptop Mode, Movie Mode, Tablet Mode and Carry Mode.
Shortcut keys and keyboard:
We did not find any issues with the keyboard, though we were very jealous of not having the Bluetooth trackpad that will be available on a similar, and more expensive, keyboard case from CruxCase called the Crux Reloaded. The power button located is located on the top of the keyboard right next to the bluetooth sync and reset button. There is also a charging/power/sync indicator light along the top of the keyboard. As you can see from the pictures of the keyboard in the article you will notice there is adequate spacing between the keys and there is also a shortcut row of buttons on the top of the keyboard. These shortcuts trigger multiple iOS gestures that you would normally control on the touch screen and include controlling volume, music playlists, photo gallery, spotlight search, and the iPad homescreens.
The Crux360 is currently available for $149 for the iPad 2 and $148 for the 1st generation iPad. This bluetooth keyboard brings the environment of a laptop a little closer to the iPad, but with the lack of a trackpad, like on the Crux Loaded, and no native mouse control functions we were left wanting. The constant need to touch and control the screen with a mouse led us to use our fingers quite often on the screen, which was not always comfortable when using the keyboard in laptop mode.
If you need a more rugged design or more expanded features than this may not be the best choice for you. Look into the Crux Reloaded for more functions like a bluetooth trackpad and a backup battery that charges the iPad 2, unlike what we see here on the Crux360. Check out another iPad 2 keyboard we reviewed earlier from Logitech here to see more options and be sure to check out our hands-on video below!
Please excuse the minor issues with audio in certain areas of video below.