Over the past month or two, TUAW has reviewed a number of keyboard cases for the iPad Air. Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Folio and FabricSkin Keyboard Folio both proved to be capable companions to the newest iPad, although I found the key layout on those devices to be a little odd due to being offset a bit to the left. Missing in that review was the third member of Logitech's iPad Air keyboard family, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99.99). That device just arrived at TUAW Labs, so we gave it a full workout for this review.
To begin with, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is not a full case -- instead, like its earlier sibling for the iPad, it's a removable screen cover that just happens to be a keyboard. The bottom of the keyboard is made from aluminum, and the entire device comes in either white or black/slate gray to match up to your iPad Air. If you're looking for a thin iPad Air keyboard solution, you've come to the right place: the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is just 0.29 inches (7.3 mm) thick. It weighs in at .73 pounds (330 grams), adding a scant bit of weight to the iPad Air for a lot of extra capability.
The secret to this cover is ... magnets. There are magnets that hold it in place Smart Cover-style to protect the screen and once you take it off of your iPad Air, strong magnets in a channel on the keyboard hold the tablet in place as you type.
Now, here's the strange thing -- as I mentioned, the other two iPad Air keyboards from Logitech bothered me a bit as they were slightly offset to the left. On the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, the keys are in their proper places. Rather than combining the tab and Q/Caps Lock and A keys and requiring a press of the fn key to enter a tab or go into caps lock mode, those keys are all separate -- as they should be. Why Logitech chose to go with a non-standard layout for the other two keyboards and return to the tried-and-true layout for the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is just plain odd.
As with most of the keyboards I've tested, the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover uses a standard USB to micro-USB cable for recharging. Based on two hours of use per day, Logitech says you can expect to use the keyboard for about three months between charges.
The test of any keyboard is how quickly a touch typist is able to accurately type on the device, and I'm happy to say that the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is excellent. I was very impressed with the solid feel of the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, the response of the keys, and how my fingers were able to find the keys from muscle memory -- something I couldn't do with the other two Logitech keyboards.
The keyboard has only five rows of keys; the top row of number keys can be used with the fn key to access a number of iPad shortcuts. There's also no backlight for the keys. Those who feel that a backlight is a must and who like to use shortcut keys to perform tasks normally done with a tap on the screen may find the ZAGGkeys Folio for iPad Air ($99.99) to be a better fit to their needs.
Pairing the keyboard with the iPad Air took only a few seconds. With the Bluetooth settings open on my iPad Air screen, I turned on the keyboard (there's an on/off switch) and then pressed the pairing button. When the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover appeared in the list of discovered devices, I tapped it and was typing on the keyboard within seconds.
If you're looking for full protection for your iPad Air, you probably want to look at one of the folios we've reviewed as they completely cover the back and screen of the tablet when not in use. But if you're looking for the absolute thinnest keyboard around and feel that protecting the screen is good enough, then the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air may be the best solution for you.
Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad 2/3/4 was considered by many to be the ultimate keyboard for those tablets, and the new iPad Air version is a worthy successor. It packs a top-notch keyboard into a thin, sturdy case, and definitely provides a portable and lightweight solution for mobile typing.
Sturdy feel and excellent construction
Excellent keyboard with proper key spacing and placement
Lightweight and very thin
Battery life of up to 3 months
Fast and simple Bluetooth pairing
Strong magnets keep cover attached while carrying and iPad in place while typing
2-year limited warranty
Reasonably-priced compared to some other solutions
Doesn't protect entire iPad Air; for total protection, consider a folio-style keyboard case
No backlighting for keys
Who is it for?
The iPad Air owner who wants an excellent keyboard but doesn't need wrap-around protection