The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is now an essential accessory on any train journey with my iPad.
I ought to mention the onscreen keyboard you get with the iPad version of iA Writer. It’s basically the standard Apple keyboard, but with an extra row of keys added along the top. This shows the most commonly used special characters that normally require multiple key presses, such as parentheses and other punctuation, plus its pièce de résistance: cursor keys.
Anyone who’s ever used an iPad for serious typing will know the absence of cursor keys is irritating at the best of times. It’s one of those strange Apple decisions that users often hate (you’ll get flamed for mentioning this in Apple forums, though – it is all too apparent that the brand’s aficionados don’t take well to criticism).
Speaking of keyboards, although the onscreen keyboards you get with most tablets are okay, you wouldn’t want to turn out thousands of words on them. Many people who use tablets as serious business tools also buy a separate keyboard: it’s usually their second purchase after a case or cover. Microsoft spotted this trend and made Touch and Type Covers an important part of the Surface package; surprisingly – considering it makes a fortune selling expensive cases ($45 for a bit of cheap vinyl and some magnets? Really?) – Apple doesn’t currently make an iPad cover with a built-in keyboard.
Logitech has come to the rescue with its Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, which works with all full-sized iPads from 2 upwards (I’m using mine with a fourth-generation model). It adds approximately 50% to the thickness of the tablet, and acts as a cover when not in use to protect the front of the tablet, but not the back; its aluminium construction almost perfectly matches the iPad’s own casing. It attaches using strong magnets – the same way as Apple’s official iPad cover – and a further magnet puts the tablet to sleep. When it’s open, you separate the cover from the tablet and stand the iPad in a slot just behind the keys, which creates such a stable and balanced setup that I’ve even used it on my knees.
Also, although the Logitech publicity shots only show the keyboard beneath a landscape-orientated iPad, it works just fine in portrait mode. That’s great if you’re working on page-based layouts, especially on an iPad with Retina display, where even very small fonts are legible if you’re close enough to the screen.
Connection between the keyboard and the iPad is made via Bluetooth (so you shouldn’t be using it on planes), and the manufacturer reckons its rechargeable battery should last for around six months or so between charges, although I haven’t had mine long enough to test this. The keyboard is of the Scrabble-tile variety, as you might expect given the need for maximum thinness, and it feels quite good – perhaps not up there with the latest Sony VAIOs or Apple MacBooks, but a damn sight better than the keys you’ll find on low-end netbooks. Once again, it provides those all-important cursor keys.
Overall, I’m impressed: the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is now an essential accessory on any train journey with my iPad.
[This is an excerpt from an article published in PC & Tech Authority magazine. You can read the full article in the May 2013 issue of PC & Tech Authority.]