The small, thin iPad mini is not the tablet you would usually think of as a productive work tool. While its bigger sibling can work just fine with an external keyboard, the mini is too narrow even in the longest dimension to do so; that is, until Logitech released its Keyboard Folio mini.
The new case from Logitech combines a portfolio style case with a little keyboard to turn the iPad mini into a real work system. This is accomplished by using near full-size keys on the little keyboard in one side of the folio case. The keyboard is far narrower than keyboards for the larger iPad, but making the most-used keys large makes the Keyboard Folio mini nice to use for limited text entry.
The Logitech Keyboard Folio mini comes in a number of colors — the navy demin is being reviewed. This case is attractive and adds little weight (1.56 pounds with iPad mini) compared to the utility it provides. Magnets hold the folio closed and wakes the iPad mini up when opened.
When opened for typing, the iPad mini attaches above the keyboard with magnets that hold it securely. The entire assembly can be lifted by the top of the iPad mini without breaking the magnetic connection. Attaching the iPad mini to the keyboard yields a comfortable viewing angle for using the keyboard. The iPad can also be moved forward, covering the keyboard for use as a tablet. The folio is light enough to make this pure tablet use very comfortable.
The keyboard on the Keyboard Folio mini has chiclet keys with good tactile feedback. The layout and design is similar to the FabricSkin keyboard (reviewed here) for the bigger iPad. The keys used most often for text entry are nearly full size, while lesser-used keys are smaller to make them all fit.
The typing experience on this keyboard is naturally cramped, but works better than I thought it might. I wouldn't set out with the iPad mini in this case for all day text entry, but it is very useful for short work sessions.
I have been using the ZAGG Mini 9 keyboard with the iPad mini, which has a keyboard as big as full iPad models. That comes at the expense of a case for the iPad mini that is much bigger than the tablet. After using the Keyboard Folio mini with its case that fits the iPad mini well, I prefer it to the larger model from ZAGG. I tend to carry the iPad mini alone on outings with no work planned, and only use a keyboard if an unexpected opportunity to write comes along. This is the perfect scenario for the Keyboard Folio mini, and it is quite nice for that.
Unlike the FabricSkin model, Logitech decided to put physical power and Bluetooth buttons on the Keyboard Folio mini. The FabricSkin keyboard turns on when the iPad is held by the magnets for typing, and off when removed. Unfortunately, the Keyboard Folio mini does not do this. It is thus sometimes necessary to physically turn off the keyboard when using the iPad mini as a tablet to prevent the accidental hitting of keys.
The Logitech Keyboard Folio mini is available for a MSRP of $89.99. It is an attractive case for the iPad mini that is a decent keyboard for light text entry. It is already my favorite keyboard case for the iPad mini, even though I have used the ZAGG Mini 9 for months. Those wanting a keyboard for extended text entry on the iPad mini would be better served by the ZAGG Mini 9 keyboard case.