A physical keyboard has always been a topic of discussion when users talk about accomplishing real work on the iPad. While certain people are enjoying success including writing books using just the on-screen keyboard on the iPad, I feel the average user can appreciate a physical keyboard. A physical keyboard can provide the familiarity factor which can help a laptop or desktop user type productively on the iPad in very little time.
For the most part I have avoided keyboards for the iPad. It seems most of these keyboards are not trying to innovate on the iPad. For example, if I was a keyboard manufacturer I would try to get into Apple’s head and think if Apple included a keyboard with the iPad, what would it look like? Many of you might say they technically already do, and it’s called the Apple Wireless Keyboard. While that might be true I do not think it is practical to carry around an extra keyboard. Several problems come to mind, such as how to protect it and how to efficiently carry it. Again I am not saying that it cannot be done, but it seems like a hassle…
The Keyboard Cover
Well, it seems the team at Logitech finally thought about how Apple would design a keyboard specifically for the iPad. The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover works like a smart cover by using magnets to attach to the iPad.
The keyboard is smaller than a normal keyboard since it is the same length and width of the iPad. When the cover is not in use it will work just like a smart cover and protect the screen. The cover has a raised edge which keeps the keys from touching the screen when covering the device. The actual keyboard is very light and does not add very much weight to the device. The keyboard actually weighs 11.6 ounces and is 8.5 mm thick.
My first initial impression of the case is that it looks really well done, but I was worried if it was trying to accomplish too many things. Having something that functions as a case and keyboard sounds good from a functionality standpoint but can be a problem if the case or the keyboard are not designed well. Thankfully it seems Logitech took time to match together a well designed case and keyboard.
Functionality of the Keyboard
While the keyboard is smaller in size to the average desktop and laptop keyboard I did not have much trouble adjusting to the new size. Keys were where my fingers expected them to be and after a few minutes it was second nature. The keyboard includes numbers on the top row which includes shortcut keys. The shortcuts on the respective number buttons are activated when the user presses the shift or fn key.
While I am not going to talk about every key in detail I did want to mention the few that I used frequently. First, you will notice in the picture above the home key is the left most key on the top row. This key acts just the same as the home button on the iPad. Pressing once will leave the currently active app and pressing it twice will pull up the multitasking bar. Another shortcut that I relied heavily on was the search shortcut. Activating the shortcut by pressing the fn key + the number 1 key will launch the search on the iPad, which will exit the user from the current app allow the user to search for the another app to open.
Using the search shortcut will help users navigate to different apps very quickly.
A few other notable keys on the keyboard were the shortcut keys to access the words to the left or right of the cursor. Activating these shortcuts will select words to the left and right of the cursor depending on how often the button is pressed. For example, if I press the shortcut to select text to the left of the cursor three times, three words will be selected to cut, copy, and or paste. The last of the shortcut keys I wanted to mention are the media keys. The media keys provide shortcuts to start or stop playing media content and also volume control shortcuts.
The iPad will rest in a cradle that is also magnetized. The iPad fits very snuggly in the cradle and there should be no concern for the device to tip over, even if using the device in portrait mode. Of course you do not have the aided help of the magnets holding the device if using it in portrait mode.
Functionality as a Case
As previously mentioned the case fits just like a smart cover. The magnetic hinges attach to the back of the iPad which allows the keyboard cover to rest on the screen. The keys are recessed enough to not touch the screen, which was a big concern initially for me. The back side of the keyboard which will face out is silver color which matches the back of the iPad. Overall the case looks great and the thickness of the iPad is not increased by much.
The keyboard is incredibly light weighing only 11.6 ounces. While the keyboard is light it did seem the magnets on the keyboard cover were not as strong as the smart cover. When attaching the keyboard sometimes the connection was not as strong as I thought it was so I let go of the keyboard cover which fell to the ground due to it not being attached. No damage occurred, but it is important to always take care when closing the case.
Items To Note
Some extra items to note include:
- If the iPad is asleep pressing a key will wake the iPad.
- As far as I can tell the delete button will only go in one direction unlike on a Mac where you can reverse the delete direction by pressing the fn key. This can be annoying.
- The battery in the keyboard is rechargeable and has lasted two weeks without recharging. Logitech claims it can last six months with two hours of use per day.
- The cmd key is used for copy and paste commands, just like on your Mac.
While a keyboard is not necessary to increase productivity while using the iPad, the familiarity of it does make it an easier transition to the device. Typing on the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard increased my typing speed while keeping the iPad at a comfortable angle. The keyboard mimics a laptop on a desk where a user will have to bend their head down to view the content. The advantage of a laptop is the screen is movable. Using the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard case the iPad is at one viewing angle. I did find that typing on it was more comfortable while using it my lap rather than on the desk, though using it on a desk was still enjoyable.
Overall I really enjoyed using the keyboard with the iPad. It was nice to carry with the iPad since it worked just like a smart cover and provided a definite increase in my typing productivity on the iPad. While the price is among the higher end for iPad keyboards, I believe it is worth the investment if you plan on doing any long form typing on the iPad.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover uses magnets to attach to the iPad just like the smart cover, which allows the keyboard to easily go anywhere with your iPad. The familiarity of a physical keyboard with the added advantage of the shortcut keys make it easy to type and accomplish work on the iPad.9