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Review: Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad mini

I love the Logitech Easy-Switch Bluetooth Keyboard, but because it’s a full-sized keyboard, it can be a pain to bring around since it only fits in largish bags. After seeing Vic’s Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for his iPad Air, I started thinking about getting the iPad mini version for myself.

I had to think twice, though, before springing for one (via Amazon), for two reasons. First, I knew the keybaord was going to be small, with a different layout from the full-sized Easy-Switch keyboard that I had gotten used to, and some user reviews pointed to that as a major drawback. Second, I prefer thin-and-light cases, and always thought that people who slapped thick and boxy cases onto their sleek and slim gadgets missed the point of buying sleek and slim gadgets in the first place.

Nice cover

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad mini turned out to be thinner and lighter than I expected. True, it basically doubles the thickness of the iPad mini, but because the iPad mini is so thin to begin with, it’s not much of a issue. The build quality, and the fit and finish, as has been my experience with Logitech products, are excellent.

In appearance it’s basically a well-built plastic Bluetooth keyboard with an aluminum skin on one side, which is a nice touch. Its shade of silver doesn’t match the silver iPad mini’s color exactly, but it’s close enough to look like it was really meant to be paired with the iPad mini. It attaches to the iPad mini via a magnetic hinge (it works the same way the hinge of the Smart Cover for the iPad 2/3/4 did). The magnets are stong enough to keep the keyboard attached even when dangled from the iPad, but not the other way around. When docking the iPad in landscape mode, other magnets in the case keep it attached to the keyboard even when the iPad is lifted from the table. Another magnet somewhere else in the keyboard case activates the iPad’s sleep/wake feature.

All ports and buttons are located on a single side (upper right edge when the keyboard is being used): a microUSB port for charging the internal battery, a physical power switch, and the button to initiate pairing. Bluetooth pairing was quick and easy, and there’s no lag at all between the key presses and the reactions on the screen.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad mini

Logitech_Ultrathin_KB_7

When docked into the keyboard, the iPad can be used in either landscape or portrait mode, but only at a single, rather steep angle. I estimate it at around 75 degrees; I normally tilt my laptop screen back at about 60 degrees. Another small niggle is that you can’t put a case on the iPad because the iPad with a case won’t fit into the keybaord’s groove. This leaves the tablet’s backside exposed to fingerprints, smears, and scratches. Good thing this can be quickly remedied with a rear film protector.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard for iPad mini

There are four rows of buttons for the letters and a fifth row of tiny ones that does triple duty and number and symbol keys and function keys. Like regular Apple keyboards, there are dedicated buttons for home, media control, volume, and a bunch of other iOS-specific functions — wake/lock, Siri, show/hide keyboard, change international keyboard, activate slideshow — that I probably won’t be using much at all.

It takes time to get used to it

There were some initial snags the first time I used it. Some keys have weird key sizes (the “A” key is extra wide because is also doubles as the caps lock button, the colon/semi-colon and single/double quote buttons are only half as wide as the other keys, etc.), and the button placement is a little different from other Logitech keyboards (home button). And because the keys are only about 80% the size of regular keys and are spaced quite close together, the first thirty minutes or so of use were a bit frustrating. But it took me less tha\\\\\\\\\\n an hour to get used to the keyboard size and placement of the other keys and, even with the time I need to correct the inadvertent typos, I still type a heck of a lot faster with this physical keyboard than I do on the onscreen one. As far as typing experience is concerned, I give the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad mini an enthusiastic thumbs up. Given the limited amount of physical space Logitech had available, they needed to make some compromises in terms of key size and layout. Despite these compromises, they managed to create an eminently useful keyboard.

Logitech_Ultrathin_KB_3

Logitech_Ultrathin_KB_5

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad Air is now available locally (I asked a storeowner in Greenhills who had a couple on display for Php4,450 each) but the one for the iPad mini isn’t — yet. But since the iPad mini, both in origianl and Retina display versions typically outsell the larger iPads, I’m almost sure that the iPad mini version will soon be available as well.

Jason

Jason

Jason de Villa is teacher by day and a geek at all other times of the day. When he’s not teaching, he’s reading and writing about technology, looking for ways technology can help in education. His favorite noodles: Pancit Malabon Express.

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