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Sep 09 2013

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini Review

My QWERTY addiction for tablets has been well documented on Restless Tech. While I finally found a favorite on the full-sized iPad front, I have been struggling to find the best solution since I have switched to the iPad mini.

So, enter the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.

logitech keyboard

The Logitech Keyboard is an approach that we have seen before and Logitech has gotten good at it. The case has a magnetic hinge which the edge of the iPad slips into. The magnets insure that you can only put the iPad in correctly. The home button must be on the right side of the keyboard when you are looking at the keyboard or the magnets will simply not attach. Closing the cover activates the smart functionality and will shut the iPad down.

To use the Logitech keyboard with the iPad, you remove the iPad from the magnetic hinge and slide it into the slot about two-thirds of the way back on the cover. There are magnets in this slot to keep it steady. They are strong enough that if you pick up the iPad the keyboard will come with it. The angle is generally good for typing, but it is not adjustable.

Pairing the Logitech keyboard via bluetooth was simple and was driven by a dedicated button on the side of keyboard. There is a switch there as well, to turn the keyboard off to save battery power. The internal rechargeable battery is rated for up to six months of use at 2 hours a day and is recharged via a micro USB input on the same side.

As a cover, there’s a couple of issues with the Logitech. First, there is nothing to actually keep the cover closed. It is small and thin enough to store in most slots intended for just the iPad. However, if it is floating loosely in a bag you may find the cover in a different place than your iPad. If you do drop the iPad, the cover will not provide any protection for it, and it will likely skitter off in a different direction.

Secondly, if you are using the iPad as a real tablet in portrait mode, there is no way to attach the keyboard cover to the iPad. If you are going to use it in this format your only real choice is to disconnect the keyboard and put it down. There is no way to attach it to the back of the iPad. This is the kind of thing that causes me to accidentally walk off without an accessory.

The actual keyboard is quite good given the size that it covers. The island style keys have good mechanical action and are a reasonable size given the constraints of the iPad Mini’s size. The keyboard is 5 rows with the top row of numbers and function keys being half the height of the regular keys. The function key combined with these keys allows you to shut down the iPad, activate Siri, activate search and turn the on-screen keyboard on and off. You can also use them to control the audio functions of the iPad.

The other compromises have to do with punctuation keys. Colons and quotes are on half width keys to the right of the “L” key. To the right of the “P” key are half width keys for the square and squiggle brackets, as well as the tilde and accent keys which are accessed by the function keys.

My biggest gripe on the key choice is on the left side of the keyboard. The caps lock is a function shift on the “A” key, which I can deal with. The real challenge is the tab key, which is a function shift of the “Q” key. Given that tab is the shortcut for advancing to the next field in a form, this is a big downside for me. I use this key far too much to have to use a modifier key to get to it. The mini’s frame size means that any keyboard is going to have compromises over a full-sized keyboard. I just don’t think this is a particularly good one.

The construction quality is good and the color and style matches the iPad well. The Logitech keyboard cover is made completely of plastic and has some flex to it. I can picture it breaking if I were to drop it on concrete.

Conclusion

The Logitech keyboard is an improvement over the onscreen keyboard. The keys feel good and will improve your typing speed.

Unfortunately, there are too many compromises with this keyboard. There is no way to attach the keyboard to the back of the iPad. The lack of a way to hold the cover closed, the general plastic construction and the tab key being on the second layer of the keyboard mean that there are better choices out there.

Not recommended.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini $79

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