If you've ever looked into keyboards for the iPad, you may have come across Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover and thought it looked like a great option. Its compact size and integration with the iPad as a cover that goes everywhere your iPad does is a great concept that doesn't disappoint. Of course as with all keyboards of a portable nature, there are trade-offs. However, the Ultrathin has some compelling features that may well make up for those trade-offs and then some.
Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air
The first thing you'll notice about the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is that it's, well, quite thin. It's essentially the same height and width as the iPad Air, it's almost as thin, and it's even a quarter of a pound lighter at 11.7 oz. (330 g). All of these facts together make this keyboard a great travel accessory for your iPad. In fact, it's built to take the place of Apple's Smart Cover by using the same magnets to clip itself to your iPad. The magnets themselves are part of a hinge on the keyboard so you can quickly flip open your iPad as you would with a Smart Cover.
The best part about the Ultrathin using a magnetic hinge is that it's super easy to attach, and even more importantly, detach from your iPad whenever you need to. It also has the ability to put your iPad to sleep or wake it up when you close or open the cover.
When you're ready to type with it, you simply pull the hinge off your iPad and stick it into a special magnetic groove in the keyboard cover. This keeps your iPad propped up in a comfortable typing angle. And because the Keyboard Cover is a standard bluetooth keyboard, your iPad and the cover don’t necessarily need to be in contact for it to work, adding flexibility to the way it can be used.
Ultrathin in "typing mode"
Taking the Ultrathin out of its box for the first time, I noticed that the battery seemed to be mostly if not fully charged. The build quality is quite good and really goes well with the Air's minimalist aesthetics. Pairing it with my iPad was a breeze, and I was up and running in very little time. There's a power switch on the side of the keyboard that keeps it from using battery while not in use, although I rarely switched it off and haven't needed to worry about it running out of juice. There's also a handy "pair" button which easily puts it into pairing mode.
The Ultrathin's Minimalist Hardware Controls
The magnetic clips on the hinge feel very sturdy as does the magnetic groove which props up the iPad in landscape orientation. I've also used it many times in a portrait orientation, however you don't get the added security of the magnets while in this orientation. Logitech doesn't advertise using it this way because it's not nearly as stable, so only do it if you like to live dangerously.
The keys on the Ultrathin are only slightly smaller than those on a MacBook, and the feel of typing on them is quite comparable to an Apple keyboard. However, I quickly noticed that, while this keyboard is certainly close to being a full-sized keyboard, it's not close enough that I don't notice it. In fact, I do feel as though I make more mistakes on this than I would with a full-sized keyboard. This complaint brings me to the things I don't like about the Ultrathin.
As I said before, the Ultrathin isn't full-sized, but it's close. One can most definitely achieve a significantly higher and more comfortable typing speed using this than one could simply using the on-screen keyboard. And while most of the keys are pretty close to full-sized, some special character keys are about half normal size. Keys such as quotes, question mark and forward slash, and a few others are small enough that I've occasionally hit adjacent keys while pressing them.
One of the biggest drawbacks with the Ultrathin is that it can't easily be used with a cover on the rear of your iPad. I use a thin Belkin case on the back of my iPad which accommodates both the Smart Cover and the Ultrathin when used as a cover.
However, the iPad doesn't fit well in the magnetic groove, leaving it in a poor typing angle and insecurely propped up by the lip of the groove without the aid of the magnets. Thankfully the case I use is easily removable, although it is still a bit of a hassle. If you want to keep the rear of your iPad protected with this case, I would recommend an adhesive style cover rather than a full-blown case.
The sleep/wake feature of the case is great, however I've noticed that it doesn't always trigger properly if the case is closed gingerly. However, if you let it fall together with the iPad or consciously squeeze, all's well. I haven't experienced any negative effect because of this, but it is noticeable if you worry about that sort of thing. You'll also note that, while the Ultrathin is quite light and integrates well with your iPad, it does add a significant amount of weight overall to the combination. It's not a deal breaker certainly, but it is worth mentioning.
Ultrathin + iPad Air
While the Ultrathin will pair with seemingly any device which works with Bluetooth keyboards, switching back and forth between devices is a huge pain. If you want to switch from one device to another, you'll need to pair it with the device you're switching to. When switching back to the other device, you'll have to re-pair it again. This seems to be an issue with Bluetooth keyboards which Logitech has opted to ignore in this device. There are other options out there (from Logitech and others) which feature quick switching between a set number of devices, but it’s not a huge deal if you don’t plan to regularly use it with more than one device.
In the end, the Ultrathin represents some really well thought out trade-offs, being portable, useful, and compact while remaining as close to a full sized keyboard as possible. Ultimately Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a beautifully clever keyboard that's nearly perfect for anyone who wants to travel light and get some serious typing done.
It's a great solution for digital note taking students who want to lighten their load. Just be aware that no keyboard (no matter which one) will aid in typing math equations. If you're looking for a portable keyboard that's extremely well integrated with your iPad while being quite versatile, Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is an excellent choice.