Apple recently went on the record saying that they had no intention of releasing a convergent device that would take the best features of tablets and laptops in an all in one solution. "Anything can be forced into convergence" Tim Cook, Apple's CEO said, "You could force the convergence of a toaster and a refrigerator", but went on to say that it wouldn't actually be of use to anyone.
Certainly when I went out and bought myself a Logitech Keyboard for iPad, some of my friends and colleagues teased me for essentially putting myself together a very expensive laptop.
I happen to think that a keyboard is a very valid accessory for an iPad. 95% of the time, I do use the iPad as a tablet, but occasionally, when I'm composing a letter, or writing a blog article, it's clear to me a keyboard is a nicer way to get the words down than a touchscreen. The Logitech is an affordable accessory that I only carry when I need it, although it would be nice to see what Apple came up with.
There are also plenty of solutions on the market for those who would like an iPad keyboard with them all the time and so we don't have to sit and wait to see whether Apple meant what they were saying, or if indeed the iFridgeToastymatic is only months from market!
The best solution I've seen is probably the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. As its title alludes, its a cover for the ipad with a very, and I mean VERY thin keyboard in it.
As you can see, Logitech knows how to make a device attractive and the marketing folk have made a video that made it quite a battle for me not to press the 'Order' button the moment I saw it!
Fortunately for me, a friend with a brand new iPad and a similar weakness for shiny things snapped and bought one and was kind enough to give me a few hours to play with it.
So what's it like? Impressive, with less compromise than you might imagine.
Finished in glossy (finger print friendly) piano black plastic, the actual frame is of aluminium. It feels well built and so light! Whilst swapping your smart-cover for one of these is going to add noticably to the weight of an ipad whilst you're carrying it about, it’s no less portable.
The keyboard attaches to the iPad using the magnetic hinges that Apple introduced with their smart-covers. Whilst closed, it keeps everything tight and protected, but be careful when opening as the magnets won't take the weight of the ipad and it could be easy to drop something.
To balance the weight in use, the iPad is unhinged and dropped neatly into the white strip running across the top of the keyboard. Strong magnets click the iPad into place at an angle leaning gently away from you.
There is only one angle of recline for the screen. I found it okay for the length of time it took to type this article, but it really couldn't be called ergonomic. If you're going to do a full days work on it, take regular breaks for a stretch!
This leads me on to the second compromise, but this one should come as no surprise. The keyboard is pretty small. A natural trade-off for the incredible portablity, but if you dont like small keyboards, you wont get on any better with this one.
For me, within a few paragraphs, I found the main keys were fine and I was only really having to hunt for the delete key and symbol buttons on the right hand side of the keyboard, like the one for quotation marks which really are very tiny. Again, for bashing out longer emails, note-taking and blogging, this is an excellent keyboard. There is a good amount of travel and feel and touch typing is possible. If you must have a bigger keyboard, then check out my review of my own Logitech which has the typing space at the expense of some portability.
Setup of the keyboard is as easy as any other bluetooth device. Switch on bluetooth in the iPad settings, press the bluetooth pairing button on the keyboard and tap on it when it appears on the screen. From then on, the devices will connect themselves whenever bluetooth is enabled. The keyboard includes an on off switch to help conserve battery life (expect months on a single charge) and also a micro USB to charge up the built in (non-removable) battery.
In short, it's been a very pleasant few hours for me with the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. It's a cracking design, which also works well in practice and I'd recommend it for anyone who doesn't agree with Tim and his mates at Apple.
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