Hands-on with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (video)

Hands-on with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover (video)

Summary: This keyboard turns the iPad into the thinnest and lightest laptop ever produced. It has already become my favorite keyboard for the new iPad.

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TOPICS: Hardware, iPad, Mobility
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I write over a thousand words a day, every single day, many of those on my iPad. That's only possible by using an external physical keyboard. There are some good ones available, and this brand new one is the best I've tried so far.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover combines the Apple Smart Cover with a full keyboard. The single unit from Logitech is thinner than the new iPad, and weighs only a few ounces. It attaches to the iPad using the same magnetic hinge used by the Smart Cover.

Once the cover is attached to the iPad, simply folding it closed produces a single unit for transport. The brushed aluminum bottom of the cover is exposed when closed, presenting a solid aluminum surface combined with the iPad's back.

Opening the closed cover is a simple operation, and to use the iPad with keyboard requires a simple removal of the cover from the tablet. The iPad is then placed into the white slot on the keyboard, with the iPad home button to the right. A strong magnet grips the iPad firmly in the keyboard, in fact the whole unit can be lifted by grabbing the top of the iPad with one hand.

This disengages the magnets holding it in place with an audible tone that indicates when the iPad can be easily lifted out of the slot.

The iPad smart cover technology is fully supported by the Logitech unit, with the iPad turning on and off by opening and closing the cover, respectively. There is a noticeable click when the iPad is inserted in the keyboard slot for use, and another distinct noise when the iPad is disengaged from the slot for removal. Removing the iPad from the Utrathin Keyboard Cover is as simple as tilting the iPad forward, which disengages the magnets holding it in place.

The iPad can be used with the keyboard in portrait mode without any magnetic gripping action. This is stable when used on a flat surface.

The chiclet keyboard is not quite full size but even with large fingers handles fast touch typing. The five rows of keys contain all the expected keys, with the addition of a set of function keys that handle special functions on the iPad. These include cut, copy, paste, volume up/down, and media player controls.

This keyboard has two function keys not found on other products that have turned out to be very useful tools. They are keys that highlight one word left or right with a single tap. It is very useful to be able to precisely highlight blocks of text in any app with just a few taps of these keys.

The Logitech cover uses Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to the iPad. It charges via an included microUSB cable, and according to Logitech should last about six months on a single charge. The keyboard goes in standby mode to save battery when not in use, and there is power switch for turning the unit off entirely.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a fantastic cover for transporting the iPad securely. The aluminum surface looks good and is quite durable to handle the bumps of the road. The magnetic hinge system is easy to use and unique among iPad keyboard accessories.

The keyboard is currently available from Logitech for $99. It works with the iPad 2 and new iPad 3, but owners of the first generation iPad are out of luck as it does not work with early models.

See the other reviews in the iPad keyboard case series:

Topics: Hardware, iPad, Mobility

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15 comments
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  • Question

    Can you leave it attached via the "hinge" and flip it around the back of the iPad? So that if you wanted to use the iPad while standing you'd not need to find somewhere to set the keyboard down.

    This would be a useful feature.
    jeremychappell
    • Nope

      The magnet disengages if you flip the keyboard cover back too far so you can't do that. I can't say I ever wanted to, but I can see why you might want to.
      JamesKendrick
  • Thanks for this review and video

    I've been using a full-size Bluetooth keyboard with mine but then not carrying it with me when I traveled. This looks like a perfect alternative, just wish I had seen it before I bought the Apple folding cover! Of particular interest are the arrow keys, because I've found that I can actually dictate fairly long sentences, but then have trouble cleaning up any misinterpretations without finicky finger motions to edit one or two letters. The arrow keys on the keyboard help a lot in that regard.
    terry flores
    • Special text select Fn keys

      This keyboard also has two unique Fn keys for selecting text one word left/right of cursor. I use these keys all the time as they facilitate highlighting text for any purpose.
      JamesKendrick
  • But when will it be available?

    I noticed that on the Logitech website, they are still "available for pre-order".
    etee74
  • Curse you James!

    I just bought the Zagg folio based on a certain someones recommendation.

    My wife already thinks I have a laptop bag fetish, now I will have 2 Ipad covers and 2 Ipad keyboards. My wallet and wife insist that I stop following you.
    Rockett0
  • Nice review, impressed by quality of video

    I liked your review, and I was impressed by the great quality of the video: what kind of camera did you use to shoot it? (I apologize if this information has been included in a previous blog.)
    andrea_pt
  • Logitech ordering too much trouble

    I went to order one to check it out.
    It doesn't autofill name/address.
    It insists on setting up a user account
    I quit. I called sales and told them it would be a cold day in hell before I would go through that to order something where competition exists - bought a Zagg keyboard on one of the friendliest sites I've visited.
    john.medcalf@...
  • 2 Qs

    James - what about the keys rubbing against the screen when closed?
    Can the ipad be docked in the keyboard in a vertical orientation, or horizontal only?
    zdnet_user!
    • Answers

      1. Keys rubbing- no. 2. vertical orientation- yes.
      JamesKendrick
  • wireless keyborad on airplane

    Can you use this or other wireless keyboard keyboards on a plane?

    I am in the market for one (keyboard not plane) and want to know the rules.
    APH3
    • Technically no

      But on most flights I'm told users do use them as the Bluetooth is not a concern. No one stops them.
      JamesKendrick
  • It's still a kludge compared to the Transformer Prime keyboard dock setup

    And considering that the Prime keyboard dock has built-in full size USB and SDcard slots, trackpad, battery, and almost as light a setup when docked to the tablet (2.49 lbs for Prime vs 2.42 lbs for new iPad) it's that much more amazing what ASUS has been able to do.
    mrxxxman
  • Gorgeous design but...

    I see a couple of issues:

    1. Having to disengage the magnetic mechanism, slide the iPad in the slot, and reverse the process when done, seems a bit of a hassle. I'd be concerned about wear on the iPad over time.

    2. The exposed metal on the case, as well as the back of the iPad, might be subject to scratches and dents. Additional protection might be needed, which would only add bulk and be detrimental to the good looks.

    I opted for the ZAGG folio as it addresses both issues for me, and it is almost as beautiful. It also seems to use the same keyboard.

    I'd be curious to see a comparison between the Logitech and the folio on speed to open the case and turn on the iPad, and the reverse.
    HelloTechWorld
  • Lets see if Asus will do as Apple would do..

    I would assume that logitech will be sued by Asus following the apple business plan since the Prime was the first to come with a full detachable keyboard dock.Only one company can use an idea and since Asus already had the tablet dock in the apple world this is infringment.
    Fletchguy