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:
- iLuv Professional Workstation Portfolio for the new iPad
- Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2: Hands-on review
- Logitech Fold-up Keyboard for iPad 2: Full-sized, full featured (review)
- ZAGGfolio keyboard for iPad 2: form and function refined (review)