Provides: Solar-charged iPad case with integrated Bluetooth keyboard Developer:Logitech Minimum Requirements: iPad 2 or 3rd generation iPad Price: $129.99 Availability: Out Now
Logitech, already known for excellent iPad keyboards, has done it again with their latest keyboard case. A combination iPad case and Bluetooth keyboard, the case also integrates a couple of solar cells into the mix for charging whenever and wherever you can find a light source.
iPad, Three Ways
The genius of the Solar Folio is its use of intelligent on/off controls for your iPad and the Bluetooth keyboard. Magnets in the case wake/sleep your iPad when opening the case, so you have instant access. Two rubber nibs on the inside edge of the iPad holder fit into small indentations along the keyboard to position the screen at one of two angles: steeper for typing or a more shallow angle for movie watching/game playing.
The rubber nibs control power to the keyboard, so it is only active when the iPad is in one of the two positions. As such, you can fold the case over completely to hold your iPad like a book, without worrying about typing random letters.
While it is not designed for high-impact protection, the Solar Folio does hold your iPad securely while offering front, back, and side protection. The case is quite slim, especially considering the keys offer a full 1.5 mm of travel, and has openings for all ports, switches, and cameras. iPad 2s and third-gen iPads will find the Solar Folio an equally comfortable home, and the case accommodates both securely and snugly. Even better, Logitech is willing to back up their products with a two year warranty. Who even does that anymore?
The Key Is…
Logitech’s keyboards are outstanding, and the Solar Folio is no exception. With an intelligent layout that incorporate 64 nearly full-size keys, this keyboard is neither cramped nor uncomfortable for extended use. Key travel/tactile feedback are both outstanding, with keys that feel firm but responsive. Of course dedicated touch typists may pine for the days of full-travel scissor switch keys, but the Solar Folio is the equal of Apple’s laptop keyboards in terms of comfort.
In addition to the standard keys, Logitech has implemented a row of function keys along the top and bottom of the keyboard, indicated by red/grey icons on each of the keys. The top row of keys are standard number keys, with the exception of the leftmost key, which is a Home button—the tilde has been shifted to the right hand side of the keyboard and is accessed by holding down the “fn” key. That same “fn” key activates the alternate functions of the top row, which include search mode, alternate keyboards, show/hide the onscreen keyboard, text selection/manipulation controls, as well as media/volume controls. When used in media viewing mode only the very bottom row of keys is visible, and these keys automatically switch to their alternate functions. Clearly labeled with grey icons, these include media/volume controls and a show/hide control for the onscreen keyboard.
I’ve Got the Power
Logitech lists a two year battery life, based on two hours of usage per day. That works out to 208 hours, which means a dead battery will almost never be an issue. Officially, Logitech recommends six hours a day to keep your Solar Folio charged, but you can top up the battery by simply placing the keyboard with the solar cells facing up towards any bright light source (sun or artificial light).
Flip it upside down on your desk when you step out to lunch, put it on the front seat of your car while commuting—the real genius of the Solar Folio is that it breaks your reliance on having a USB port or power outlet handy.
Innovation is best defined as doing something better than what came before. Previous iPad keyboards required you to carry a separate adapter or cord to charge them, and it was fairly inconvenient to do so. Logitech’s Solar Folio is a welcome change, because you can charge it virtually anywhere (except dark rooms or at night, obviously). Combining already exceptional keyboards with a unique method of charging makes the Solar Folio a clear winner.