As we implied in our article ‘Why Windows 8 will kill the laptop’, convertible tablets are beginning to take over from laptops. However, while premium tabs like the Microsoft Surface and Asus Transformer offer optional first-party keyboard solution to turn them into decent productivity machines, Apple’s iPad does not. Thanks to the iPad’s popularity there are plenty of third-party keyboard cases though, and we’re looking at Logitech’s very promising Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.
Quite simply, the Ultrathin is the best-looking keyboard cover we’ve seen. It’s a single, solid slab whose entire back is anodised aluminium, and it mimics the back of an iPad with great effect. The front keyboard section is glossy black or white plastic to match your iPad colour choice, with matt used for the keyboard.
Build quality is superb. Thanks no doubt in part to its metal back, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is the best-built iPad keyboard solution we’ve yet come across. Despite this it’s still very light at a mere 355g, and it lives up to its Ultrathin name by being under 10mm thin. It’s obvious that a lot of care and attention went into the Keyboard Cover’s design.
When in non-laptop mode, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover attaches to the iPad with a magnetic hinge that lets you ‘open’ and ‘close’ the duo like a laptop. When closed, it looks much like two iPads sandwiched together, making for a very stylish amalgam.
When you want to type on it, simply pull the two sections apart and insert the iPad into the provided magnetic groove above the keyboard area, which holds it so securely that you can dangle the tablet upside-down from the Ultrathin if you so desire.
With the keyboard acting as a stand, the iPad is angled precisely to provide an easy viewing angle. Unlike on some rival products you can’t adjust this angle, but as a testimony to Logitech’s engineering we never felt the need to.
The single biggest disadvantage to Logitech’s iPad keyboard solution will probably already have become apparent to you: it doesn’t protect your iPad’s back – which is more vulnerable than the tablet’s toughened glass front to scratches and marks. As such, you may want to get an extra slipcase to protect the iPad plus Ultrathin combo.
On the Ultrathin’s right side you’ll find a discrete Bluetooth pairing button, on/off switch, and microUSB charging port. The Ultrathin will last weeks on a single charge, and Logitech provides a microUSB cable plus lint-free cleaning cloth with its cover.
When it must partner a 9.7-inch tablet which is not as wide as the average Android or Windows tablet, it’s a pretty safe bet that the typing experience isn’t going to match that of a laptop/netbook – and indeed, all the previous iPad cases we’ve tried confirmed this. However, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover puts our assumptions on their head by providing a keyboard that many netbooks should be envious of.
Layout and key spacing is superb, with number keys doubling as iOS function keys, a full-size right-shift key, and the welcome rarity of a full-size UK Enter key. Everything is exactly where you would expect it to be, and the shallow ridge that runs around the outside disappears to leave your thumbs unhindered access to the space bar. The space bar and other keys on its row are also vertically elongated, making them much easier to hit.
Feedback is equally impressive, with lots of travel and nice firm action to each key. What really sets Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover apart from the majority of iPad keyboards though is that the keys are larger. Where the average keyboard case has keys that are 12-13mm across, those on the Ultrathin are 14mm, which makes all the difference in the world.
To put it simply, this is the best typing experience you’ll get for an iPad, or indeed with any tablet save perhaps the Microsoft Surface – though Logitech’s keyboard feels far more solid than the thinner Microsoft Type Cover. In fact, we wish Asus would provide its Transformer tablets with keyboards this good.
Logitech’s superb iPad keyboard solution is available for around £70. This may seem a lot when you can get alternatives for under £40, but in this case you definitely get what you pay for, both in terms of quality and usability. The stylish Ultrathin is worth every penny for anyone who wants to do some comfortable typing on their iPad.
There are many iPad keyboard covers on the market, but the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is definitely the one to rule them all. It’s a superbly designed accessory that’s very stylish, holds your iPad securely at a comfortable angle for typing or watching movies, and quite simply offers the best typing experience on any 10-inch tablet. Our only niggle is that it doesn’t protect your iPad’s back, but this seems a small price to pay for what it brings to the table(t).