« Recycled Suit Tote | Home | Ned Vizzini's New Favorite Drink »

April 26, 2010

How to use your iPad in landscape orientation with the keyboard dock or basic dock


It's much easier, faster and more comfortable to type on the keyboard dock or a Bluetooth keyboard than with the on-screen virtual keyboard.

The problem is that the iPad as configured forces you into placing it in portrait mode to attach it to the keyboard dock or basic dock.

This vexed me from day one and I vowed to figure out a simple hack around it until Apple adds a docking port on the long side.


But that's probably months, if not years, away.

In the meantime I've got stuff to do.

So I thought about it and thought about and asked myself, what would a BrainGenius do?

And one day the penny dropped.

I ordered a 30-pin dock extender cable (pictured to the right of the iPad in the top photo) and after it arrived played around a little bit and voila, there was the solution (photographed by my crack photography team), pictured above and below.


Note that for the setup to work, you need an iPad case.

I used Apple's because I already had it.

The ridge along the portion of the case holding the iPad serves to let the iPad's encased lower border rest securely on the top edge of the keyboard dock.


If you choose to use the basic dock, it's not nearly as stable.

The front flap of the case, folded back, serves to stabilize the iPad.

Moving the free flap away or towards you allows you to choose the perfect screen angle, something you can't do with the iPad in the dock in its portrait mode.

That's the case with the keyboard dock; with the regular dock, you're limited to a much narrower range of stable configurations because of the very different geometries of the docks.

I couldn't get the uncased iPad to remain stable using the keyboard dock without using other objects to keep it in place.


With the regular dock, it's nearly impossible.

I always keep my iPad in its case (it's just too slippery to hold securely otherwise) whether or not I'm using it in conjunction with a dock.

Note also that the on/off button must be on the left to use this hack because if you try it the other way โ€” with the hinged part of the case down โ€” it won't fit without covering up the function keys, plus it's unstable and it looks terrible.

As pictured, there's a 1/8 inch space between the front of the iPad case and the top edge of the function keys, so they work fine.


I found two sources for dock extender cables, here and here.

Both are far longer (19 and 24 inches, respectively) than necessary, so you have to coil them up and stick them between the two flaps of the case.

Maybe someone reading this post will twig and offer one about 8 inches long, perfect for the purposes of this hack.

April 26, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How to use your iPad in landscape orientation with the keyboard dock or basic dock:


Are people still on that whole "Netbook" argument? So by that same argument, why would I want to get a Netbook when I can just use a laptop with a bigger screen, more power, ports, etc? Better portability yes, but a netbook is still NOT a tablet - it's a small laptop where you're still tethered to the keyboard whether you need it or not. Comparing a netbook to a tablet computer is apples and oranges - the recently cancelled Microsoft Courier and HP Slate are more accurate comparisons to iPad.

Posted by: Shannon | May 1, 2010 6:09:43 PM

or just use an Apple bluetooth keyboard and prop the iPad on its side in the same case.

Posted by: Mike | Apr 26, 2010 11:51:23 PM

Way to MacGiver it.

I'm just waiting for a iPad cover that has a bluetooth keyboard built into one side and a locking hinge--create a kind of a netbook ipad. Or maybe a dual iPad with the edge of the screen very near the hinge...

Wouldn't mind adding USB or dock to long side.

Wouldnl't mind another speaker on the opposite side for stereo. It would work for the user who was holding the iPad. It would make the iPad louder for someone standing a few feet away.

Posted by: Book Guy | Apr 26, 2010 9:16:10 PM

Nice hack! I too was slightly baffled by the fact that the dock in on the short side. Still not sure what to do about typing on the couch though.

My favorite complaint of surge's is "mono audio on a 2010 device? LOL!". SURGE DEMANDS STEREO OR MOVIE IS RUINED! How much stereo imaging are you expecting to get out of tiny speakers separated by 6" or so? Or do you just have no idea what you're talking about and think stereo=higher quality? I'm guessing the latter.

Posted by: Grover | Apr 26, 2010 6:48:06 PM

Wow, hey, look at that guys! It's a screen with a keyboard! It's... it's... a laptop. Congratulations.

Posted by: Brian H. | Apr 26, 2010 5:35:24 PM

I believe surge was saying that the iPad OS is gimped or flawed. which, in my opinion, is. Its the only operating system where the maker wont let you easily run applications that it hasnt approved. Freedom of choice is too important to me. Plus, better and cheaper tablets are coming around the corner.

Posted by: franky1029 | Apr 26, 2010 4:40:17 PM

Great solution! Also fixes the problem of having to take the iPad out of the case to dock it into the keyboard. BTW, the reason this is better than the bluetooth apple keyboard is all of the function keys are specific to the iPad instead of OSX. Great workaround!

Posted by: Colin | Apr 26, 2010 4:16:54 PM

I just love that bottom outdoor picture, with the garbage cans and mailbox in the distance tiny to the left of the huge close-up thing. I'm seeing just all kinds of deep meaning and symbolism and general hilarity in that...

Posted by: Flautist | Apr 26, 2010 3:58:51 PM

F'n great. I have to spend MORE money for something that was built incorrectly to begin with. Just one more reason I WILL NOT buy an ipad.

Posted by: Rick | Apr 26, 2010 2:06:08 PM

A much cheaper cable can be bought at MonoPrice.com:


Posted by: Borja | Apr 26, 2010 2:03:36 PM

@surge: Yes you could, but then you won't have a touch screen, it will run uncomfortably hot and how's that battery life? I am very happy with my iPad. I hope you are happy with your netbook.

If you need a physical keyboard and more computing power and a bunch of ports a MacBook might be the way to go. As an iPad-centric solution the above idea is great. I don't use mine for excessive typing so I don't need that solution.

Not having flash is unimportant to me (I rarely have even found a website that requires it anymore and time and widespread adoption of iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch will make webdevelopers think twice about using flash for programming anymore, because Apple clientele demographics will tell you that you won't want to miss out on that revenue source.

One final comment: Please look up the definition of OS on Wikipedia.

Posted by: tobias | Apr 26, 2010 1:35:57 PM

oh and one more thing, netbooks can run flash content and play xvid\mkv\etc video as well so you aren't forced to get content from the itunes store.

Posted by: surge | Apr 26, 2010 1:12:21 PM

you could also buy a netbook that can run more than one application at a time, has a camera, hdmi output, a real keyboard, runs a real operating system, can print, has more than one speaker (mono audio on a 2010 device? LOL!), has built in card reader and expansion ports (who wants to carry around dongles with a portable device for functionality that should be included?), and has a higher resolution screen -- all for less money.

Posted by: surge | Apr 26, 2010 1:07:10 PM

The reviews on the cables suggest they don't charge the iPad while it's in use, anyone found a cable that will?

Posted by: Sydney | Apr 26, 2010 1:04:13 PM

Cablejive.com sells a white 2-footer but a little pricey.

Posted by: Duane | Apr 26, 2010 12:55:01 PM

Also, you can get dock extender cables all day for less than $10 on ebay.

Posted by: Kevin | Apr 26, 2010 12:52:54 PM

Just buy the apple Bluetooth keyboard and use it in any orientation. Problem solved.

Posted by: Kevin | Apr 26, 2010 12:51:31 PM

much better this way!

Posted by: thomas | Apr 26, 2010 12:34:48 PM

Wow Joe, congrats on getting picked up by Engadget. I guess you're rich now!

Posted by: Matthew | Apr 26, 2010 12:18:22 PM

wouldn't it be better to buy directly an MBA?

Posted by: Ma.C. | Apr 26, 2010 12:09:42 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.