I think tablet keyboards are, in many respects, the future. Not necessarily because laptops are going away, but perhaps because the idea of having a laptop and a tablet is growing increasingly unnecessary. In my own everyday life I know that there is almost no reason for me to own a MacBook Air and iPad. Or, for that matter, any tablet. The few I use for testing purposes are almost strictly just for that, testing.

That doesn’t mean that someday we’ll shed the chains and shackles of a display tied to a physical keyboard. Microsoft, with Windows 8, is expecting exactly that. But for now there is a disparity, and only time will fix that. And for now, we have accessory keyboards like the Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad.

By itself the Tablet Keyboard is exactly as it sounds, a standard keyboard made specifically for tablet use. It’s made for the iPad, since the iPad is the best-selling tablet on the market, so it comes with all of the media features and quick functions available on the iPad, like a dedicated home and lock button. It’s a Bluetooth keyboard, so it works with any Bluetooth-ready device, and in fact this entire review was typed using the Tablet Keyboard.

What’s interesting about the Tablet Keyboard is how it is designed with tablet use in mind. The keyboard itself comes with a simple plastic carrying case for travel, but savvy users will immediately recognize that it’s more useful than just to protect the board in a bag. When opened, a plastic sheet extends to hold a tablet in place, and acts as a stand. It’s somewhat cheap, but the fact is it works, and also does a very good job of protecting the keys for travel. I took the Tablet Keyboard with me on a recent trip, on the plane and beyond, and it is still in perfect condition.

The biggest comparison there is to Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard. I like the Wireless Keyboard a lot, but would never take it for travel because it has no protection. Comparatively, the typing experience is better on Apple’s keyboard, which has clickier keys, while the Tablet Keyboard feels more rubbery. That said, typing on the Tablet Keyboard is still very comfortable, with well-spaced keys that are a little small, but large enough to type on properly.

Because it is an iPad keyboard, some of the keys are geared towards Macs, such as the command key. This doesn’t come as a surprise, and the keys of course work on a Windows-based PC for their proper function, but it’s happened more than once a product has been discriminated against for showing the wrong logos. I don’t think that should be the case for users here. However, if you own an Android-based tablet, Logitech also sells an identically-priced version with the same name, sans “for iPad”. It comes with Windows keys as well.

The Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad takes two standard AAA batteries and, if Apple’s Wireless Keyboard is any indication, the battery life will be several months at least. I’ll update the review with a better estimate after I have to change batteries.

So the big question: is it better than Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard? Yes, for two reasons: first, the dedicated iPad keys, and the carrying case/iPad holder. These two, even with a slightly worse typing experience, make it a better overall device for everyday use. The heftier build is also more comfortable for typing, though I’d like to have seen more of an arc, where the back of the keyboard is raised higher up. I recommend the Logitech Tablet Keyboard, and the iPad specific model as well, for either tablet or standard keyboard use. Especially if you plan on traveling its a great device to have on hand.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★½☆

Very Good

Bottom Line: A solid keyboard made specifically for the iPad, with a novel and convenient case to go with it.

Pros:

  • Great for iPad productivity use
  • Keys are rubbery but solid and comfortable
  • Protective case doubles as iPad holder for typing
Cons:
  • The keys aren’t as good as Apple’s Wireless Keyboard
  • There is no incline for more comfortable typing



James Pikover

 
Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.