As I stated yesterday in my review of the Origami Workstation, my favorite external keyboard for the iPad is the Apple Wireless Keyboard. But what if you don't want to carry something extra with your iPad? Several companies make iPad cases that include keyboards in them. I previously reviewed the Kensington KeyFolio Pro and I also hear good things about the ZAGGfolio. But if you want to go even more minimalist, Logitech now sells its Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, a cover that attaches to the top of the iPad, much like the Apple Smart Cover, that has a built-in keyboard.
I haven't yet seen this product in person, but I've heard good things about it, most recently from Melissa Brown, a family law practitioner in Charleston, South Carolina who I met at ABA TECHSHOW earlier this year. Melissa handles complex divorce and other family law matters, is a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (IAML), and is currently serving as the chairperson of the AAML Technology Committee.
Melissa and I recently "talked" about the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover in a series of e-mails, and she really likes this product. Melissa gave me permission to turn her e-mails to me into this post. Take it away, Melissa:
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I'm turning into a "walking consumer report" for gadgets. I tend to buy every keyboard, case, stylus, bag, etc until I find my favorite one. After purchasing and testing six keyboards for the iPad, and with some assistance by Gordon Cruse (ESI expert and AAML Fellow from San Diego) I have found my favorite: the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.
This cover uses a magnetic clip to securely attach the keyboard to the iPad. It possesses a satisfying tactile feel. While Logitech does not consider it to be a case, it does double duty as an ultra thin one.
While the Apple Wireless Keyboard clearly has the perfect keys, Logitech's feel good as well. The keys are solid and "click" when pressed.
I like the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover better than the Apple Wireless Keyboard because the Apple keyboard is difficult to carry without accidentally turning it on. As a result, I found that the Apple keyboard would often die. Even worse, on two occasions, the keyboard "accidentally" started playing music. [Jeff adds: one of the function keys at the top of the Apple keyboard is a "play" button that will play/pause a song using the Music app on the iPad.] On one of those occasions, the keyboard caused Sweet Home Alabama to play in the courtroom. Thankfully, the judge was empathetic and/or a Lynyrd Skynard fan. Removing the batteries each time I travelled was unrealistic.
The thin size, convenient magnetic connection, on/off button and use as a cover that protects the iPad makes the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover my favorite travel keyboard. If you are looking for a workable, flexible keyboard solution for your iPad, give it a try.
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Although I love the Apple Wireless Keyboard, Melissa's two gripes are the same two limitations that I see with that keyboard. First, it is annoying to have the keyboard occasionally turn on by accident when it is in a bag. The Origami Workstation that I reviewed yesterday helps guard against that by having an edge that is longer than the Apple keyboard itself.
As for causing music to come on accidentally, that is a real danger. It happened to me once when I was in a meeting with other attorneys. I was typing on the Apple Wireless Keyboard to take notes and I accidentally hit the play key, causing my iPad to start playing music. I didn't even realize at first that the music was coming from my iPad. It was embarrassing, but fortunately I was able to stop it very quickly. Even so, it led me to decide to remove all music from my iPad — which is admittedly an over-the-top solution, but I really don't listen to music on my iPad anyway because I prefer to use my iPhone for music. Note, however, that this danger exists with virtually every external keyboard for the iPad if that keyboard is turned on because virtually all of them have function keys that allow you to play/pause music.
Thank you Melissa for the review of the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. If you don't mind the slightly smaller keys used by any keyboard that is limited to the width of the iPad, this sounds like a reasonable solution worth your consideration. You can get more information about this product on the Logitech website. You might also be interested in reading the favorable reviews on iLounge, Macworld, iMore, Lawyerist, Wired, 9to5 Mac, Pocket-lint, MacLife and TUAW.