Ever tried typing on an iPad (or any tablet) for more than a few minutes? If so, then its Achilles’ heel becomes self-evident. Long bouts of typing via a touch screen are slow and painfully numbing. Touch screens are excellent for consuming content (e.g., playing a game, watching a video); however, such inputs are significantly less than ideal for creating text-intensive documents – a staple for any business or school user.
Many standalone Bluetooth-connected keyboards for the iPad have been released since its initial introduction in April 2010 including Apple’s own wireless keyboard. But, these independent keyboards are less than ideal for retaining the mobility afforded with tablets. Thus, shortly thereafter iPad’s introduction, manufacturers began integrating wireless keyboards into tablet cases. A quick walk through the “smart device accessory” aisle of any brick and mortar store presents a plethora of such options to choose. Yet, in this author’s humble opinion, the Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Folio ($99.99) stands out from the competition.
The Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard was tested in all black. The keys are textured in a flat color with a glossy surround. Notably, Logitech’s glossy plastic did not show fingerprints and this device looked newly polished even after hours of use. Moreover, the Ultrathin Keyboard Folio is also currently available in navy blue with an orange interior, orange with a navy interior, all grey, all black with textured exterior, and textured orange with a white interior. Both inside and out, this folio has a rubberized feel that makes this device water-repellant.
Similar to a book, this product hinges open and the iPad Air snaps into the back cover with a hole to accommodate the rear-facing camera. The Ultrathin Keyboard Folio lives up to its name by being amazingly slim (approximately 2 cm) and manages to fit the iPad Air, a keyboard, and a battery. A retention clip on its upper, right corner secures the tablet and the iPad is oriented horizontally with the home button on the right side. When locked into the folio, the iPad Air is free to either be propped up in front of the keyboard or lie completely flat on top of the keys.
The Ultrathin Keyboard Folio magnetically stays closed. When shut, this magnetic system ingeniously sleeps both the iPad Air and Bluetooth keyboard to save battery life. Alternatively, the magnet wakes the tablet when the folio is opened. A switch on the right side of the folio controls the keyboard’s power and a colored LED light above the delete key acts as a status indicator (e.g., green – fully powered, flashing blue – Bluetooth is discoverable, and red - low battery). The Ultrathin Keyboard Folio was easily paired to an iPad Air (iOS 7.1.1) by simply entering into the settings for Bluetooth and selecting the name of the device. The keyboard is practically full-sized with each letter key possessing the same dimensions as it does on Apple’s full-sized keyboard (1.5 cm long by 1.5 cm wide). Yet, for this folio to match the dimensions of an iPad Air, Logitech made some concessions, such as cutting down the size of the shift and return keys. However, these smaller sized keys were not difficult to adjust to when typing. Additionally, Logitech included arrow keys and function keys. The latter set ingeniously allowed adjustments to the volume, play, pause, cut/copy/paste, initiate Siri, lock the device, and go to the home screen with a quick press of a key.
The keyboard’s battery charges with a Micro USB cable (included) and required 90 minutes for a complete charge. After a few weeks of use, this author still has not depleted the battery. Impressively, Logitech states that the internal battery is capable of lasting 3 months if used an average of 2 hours per day.
While an integrated keyboard case is a simple concept, it has been difficult for other companies to properly implement. Logitech’s proficient history with producing computer accessories is evident in the usability and functionality of this folio. Moreover, one’s bank account will be thankful with the savings of an Apple’s iPad Air + Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Folio combination (~$599) rather than a new Macbook Air ($899+). Therefore, it is perfectly cogent that Logitech is the first in sales when it comes to iPad keyboards.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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