When it comes to iPad keyboards, I just can’t get enough of them. I currently own five different models. Each has its own idiosyncrasies. And, yet, I still have not found the perfect balance of weight, layout and functionality. Nevertheless, things are definitely getting better.
My most recent acquisitions were two from Logitech: the Ultrathin (for iPad 3) and the Fold-Up keyboard. Oh – and, yes – I purchased another ZaggFolio keyboard for my new iPad 3. Here, then, is what I have found after using all of them for the past couple of months…
The Logitech Ultrathin Cover for iPad 2/3
This is definitely the sleekest and sexiest of the bunch. Even though it’s only a few microns thicker than the Zagg, it feels (and looks) thinner. That’s probably on account of the aerodynamic metal finish. It’s marketed as a keyboard cover, because that’s exactly what it is – a cover for your iPad (that is an exact match in regards to metallic finish) that, also, happens to be a keyboard.
On the plus side, it looks great. It feels great. And, it’s the lightest of the bunch. The keyboard is responsive, syncs fast on bluetooth and lasts up to six months on a single charge (when used roughly 2 hours a day). There’s a lot to like about it.
And, yet, it’s not perfect. Why? Well, first of all, the quality of the keyboard isn’t as good as the Zagg, so I find myself mistyping and missing the Zagg layout. It feels a little less comfortable and more cramped. We’re talking only a few millimetres, here, but – quite frankly – when space is a premium, every millimetre counts.
Because it’s a cover, it’s also a bit awkward. If you want to separate your iPad from it – it’s very easy to do. The cover attaches to the iPad magnetically – like Apple’s own covers. So, you can easily detach it by pulling the keyboard away from the iPad and apart. But this means you’re left with two pieces of equipment. Sadly, the keyboard cover cannot be folded backwards (or, rolled up, like the Apple cover) and put out of the way. If you don’t want it flapping off the side of your iPad, you’re going to have to pull the two pieces apart. Which means that you’ll have it sitting on your lap, or something. Not very elegant.
You are also forced to pull the cover apart from the iPad anyways when you want to use it as a keyboard. The iPad must be separated and then popped into the middle groove of the keyboard (which is also magnetic). The iPad is heavier than the keyboard, so it feels a bit top-heavy. It hasn’t fallen out of my lap and onto the floor yet but it feels precarious.
Otherwise, it’s a fantastic piece of kit and has the smallest footprint of any keyboard I’ve used.
Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard
Despite the fact that it’s only supposed to be for the iPad 2, I can confirm that it fits the newer generation iPad 3 – but it’s a tight squeeze. You have to force the prongs to close around it – but it works.
Unfortunately, it’s not a cover. So, the front of your iPad is left exposed. You can use it in conjunction with an Apple, magnetic iPad cover, however.
The biggest problem with this keyboard is its bulk. Your iPad feels noticeably heavier and starts to feel as if you’re lugging around a Macbook Air. Not that the Air is heavy, mind you, but you might begin to wonder why you don’t just carry around an ultraportable notebook, instead.
The keyboard does give your hands extra real-estate for typing, which is nice. However, this is offset by the fact that the iPad no longer sits comfortably in your lap and using it to work in cramped conditions – such as airplane tray tables, back of a taxi, on the metro, etc – will be a less than pleasant experience. You have to do an awkward butterfly, origami move in order to get it to open. It’s well-machined, so this isn’t difficult, but it means that it takes a couple of steps to pop the keyboard open and orient the iPad towards you for typing. This is fussy when you’re in a hurry. On the plus side, though, you can use your iPad on the go while standing up, because the keyboard is behind the iPad and doesn’t need to be moved away during use. However, the keyboard isn’t that fantastic, so when you do use it, you wonder if it really is all that amazing of an upgrade. Frankly, I found myself missing my Zagg.
ZaggFolio Keyboard for iPad 3
The ZaggFolio is still the best compromise between form and function, in my humble opinion. When you purchase the product direct from Zagg, you are able to customise the components. For example, you can buy a black or silver keyboard to go into a fake croccodile case (or, whatever design strikes your fancy). This way, you can mix and match components.
But this isn’t what makes the ZaggFolio such a great piece of kit. The keyboard has a very nice response. It’s also not to small as to be unusable and but not too big as to be unwieldy in tight spaces.
Another thing that I appreciate about the Zagg is that it acts like a cover but can be folded behind the unit when you want to use your iPad standing up (and driven by your finger). When folded behind – accordion style – you are able to hold onto the fold in the cover material, so you can get a good grip on it. This makes it extremely useful on the go. Whether you are sitting down, or standing up, you can whip out your iPad and make the most of it.
The only gripe I have with the cover is that it doesn’t always put the iPad to sleep when it closes. I sometimes have to massage the cover latch when it’s closed, until I hear the iPad ‘click’ and confirm that it’s asleep. One time, I didn’t do this and found that my iPad had been on for five hours in a row and that the battery was nearly dead. This is an unfortunate design flaw, in my opinion.
Despite the ZaggFolio’s shortcomings, I find it to be the best protected and versatile keyboard case on the market. I use it when I’m traveling. Otherwise, for home to office, I use the Logitech Ultrathin cover keyboard, because it keeps the weight down and is so sleek.