Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad: No sun required (review)

Summary:The latest iPad keyboard case from Logitech may be the best one yet, with a portfolio form and solar charging.

I feel like I have used every keyboard made for the iPad, and there are some great ones. Prior to today my two favorites were the ZAGGfolio and the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. The latter has been my keyboard of choice to use with the iPad since its recent release.

A justified complaint about that keyboard cover is that it leaves the back of the iPad exposed to the bumps and scratches that are part of mobile usage. The ZAGGfolio is preferred by some for the total protection it provides the iPad front and back.

See the other reviews in the iPad keyboard case series:

All of the keyboards require charging, as they use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to the iPad. They don't need charging very often, which leaves one open to the possibility of forgetting to charge it before it goes dry. A good solution to avoid that charging would be to make a solar keyboard, so that is what Logitech did.

The Solar Keyboard Folio is a light rubberized portfolio that has a keyboard installed on one side. The iPad is popped into a rubber frame on the other side of the folio. It uses Smart Cover technology to turn the iPad on and off when open and closed.

The iPad is used with the keyboard in one of two positions: a typing position providing comfortable viewing while typing and the media position. The media position places the iPad at a lower angle for viewing video and similar functions. Two small feet extrude from the lower corners of the iPad for slotting in one of two troughs on the keyboard to assume either of the two positions.

The Smart Cover technology plays a further role as the keyboard turns itself off when the iPad is removed from either of the two slots. This makes it possible to use the iPad while in the case without the keyboard automatically activating and connecting with the iPad. This is the first folio keyboard case I have used that is comfortable to use sans keyboard without removing it from the case.

The keyboard is Bluetooth and once paired with the iPad it automatically connects when the folio is opened and the keyboard is placed in one of the two slots. There is a button to instigate pairing should the need arise, and a charge button that displays a battery level LED when pressed to check the keyboard charge.

There are two solar panels on one side of the folio to charge the keyboard using standard room lighting. There is no need to plug the keyboard into a charger, there's not even a plug to do so. The hardest part of using the solar case may be to remember to set the closed folio down with the solar panels exposed. The panels are face down when the keyboard is in use so no charging can happen.

The keyboard on the Solar Keyboard Folio is typical for Logitech, and is as good as those on its other models. There is a row of number keys that also have Fn keys for performing iPad functions like Lock/Unlock, and Cut/Copy/Paste.

When the iPad is slotted in the media position, the bottom row of keys alone are exposed. These have Fn keys for operating the playing of media, including volume control.

Logitech has a real winner with the Solar Keyboard Folio which has already become my favorite keyboard to use with the iPad. It is available from Logitech for $129.99.

Related:

Topics: iPad

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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