For those using the iPad as an alternative to a laptop or a desktop computer, the only complaint that you would get from them is using the onscreen keyboard. Some just cannot get the hang of using it for long typing sessions. You still miss the feel of a real keyboard, especially when you are used to touch-typing and you want to feel the tactile keys and hear clicks when you push on the buttons.
This is where the advantage of having an external keyboard comes in. The good news is that there are external keyboards that are not as bulky as those found bundled with desktop computers. These keyboards are designed to be used with iPads and other tablet PCs in mind. Sales people who sell iPads would be able to recommend some keyboard brands that will work best with the iPad.
The nice thing about the iPad is that it has an option for Bluetooth connectivity. There are a lot of wireless keyboards you can utilize as most of these connect via Bluetooth and can be recognized by the iPad's software. Setting up is easy with keyboards like this because there are no bothersome wires that need to be untangled to connect to your iPad unit. These portable keyboards usually include the iPad function F-keys that can control volume, screen brightness, media playback and going back to the home screen, among others.
The nice thing about these kinds of keyboards is that they are usually integrated into a protective case, although there are those that are stand alone accessories. These kinds of accessories come with rechargeable batteries that can last for months. Most users, because of their accessibility and ease of use, prefer to use wireless keyboards with their iPads. Ask the store that sell iPads if they stock these kinds of keyboard-cover combinations.
For those who do not want to be bothered with bringing along another extra accessory for his or her iPad, the onscreen keyboard is more than enough. It has the functionality that you are looking for in a keyboard, as the layout is exactly the same as what you are used to for external keyboards. You just have to get used to pressing extra keys to display the numbers screen and the screen that has the special characters. It may take several days of using it to be able to get used to it. There are no complaints about this though since some people prefer to use the onscreen keyboard.
If you are looking for covers with built-in keyboards, there are many brands and styles that you can choose from. Some of the brands that are worth mentioning are Adonit's which has a $90 cover/keyboard case named Writer, and Zaggfolio which can be bought for $100. The only drawback about this model is that the keys are a bit cramped together so you may have a hard time typing your long articles. But you can prop up your iPad easily when the need arises. There are also Clamshells and keyboard shells, which cost more than a hundred dollars depending on the model. You may be able to find these cases in stores selling iPads. It is really a matter of personal preference in choosing between the wireless and screen keyboard for your iPad.