We’ve taken a liking to tablet keyboards lately, so much so that I’m questioning whether owning the current iPad (3rd generation) is actually better for productivity than the newer 2nd generation model, with an improved CPU and far better battery life. Productivity is the key word for keyboards made specifically for tablets, and in this case specifically for the iPad. And this Zagg Keyboard Case, designed by Zagg and produced and sold by Logitech, is the best keyboard yet. It’s also the most flawed.

All portable keyboards, for tablet use or otherwise, have to balance proper key design with size, thinness, battery consumption, and a host of other design problems. So while the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is an excellent product, the keyboard itself leaves a lot to be desired, specifically in the keys and how much give they have. On that one point, Zagg’s design is a significant improvement, so much so that I’m almost willing to use this keyboard case over the Ultrathin.

But I’m not. I couldn’t, it would be crazy talk. As great as the medium-profile keys are, better in fact than Apple’s own Wireless Keyboard, a top-notch typing experience can only make a keyboard good to type on. And with any wireless keyboard, there are other important factors at play. For the Logitech Keyboard Case, nearly all of those factors come to bite it in the ass.

First is the physical design of the keyboard. Its ugly. An aluminum frame shaped to fit an iPad, a thin rubber strip inside to house the iPad properly, and a tiny seat for the iPad. They all work, but it looks cheap, unlike Logitech’s own Ultrathin or even the company’s Tablet Keyboard. The aluminum frame is also sharp, and has two edges that constantly scrape against users hands when typing. It’s almost as bad as the lines on your skin from typing on a MacBook, from the sharp edges of the laptop’s frame.

Next is the actual ‘case’ part of this keyboard. It isn’t a case, it’s a cover, and a bad one at that. The iPad has to be jammed into place so it won’t fall out, and when the Keyboard Case is on it, the iPad can’t be used at all. It’s more of a screen-protector, which is fine for a bag but useless anywhere else. It’s not particularly comfortable to carry around as intended either, and if you’re looking to fully protect your iPad, front and back, this is not the solution.

Finally, the placement for the iPad holder is too far back, which makes the case uneven when an iPad is in it. This is partially because Zagg’s keyboard was designed for the lighter iPad 2, not the heavier iPad, but potential users ought to know that either way the keyboard is unsteady on the lap. Too much weight towards the back, especially if the iPad is placed in portrait, makes the entire Keyboard Case flip over too easily. To further hit the nail on the preverbial head, the additional weight towards the back requires counterweight at the front, which typically comes from the sharp edges jabbing into the users hand when typing. Ouch.

If you can forgive those three heavy misgivings, Zagg’s design for the actual keyboard, meaning the keys is far superior to any other tablet keyboard. The keys aren’t so low-profile that they are intended for touch typists; instead, they are fairly high-profile and very bouncy. They feel almost as good to type on as low-profile mechanical keys, my personal favorite type of keyboard. The keys are all well spaced and I haven’t typed as easily with a keyboard since Windows XP was the dominant PC operating system on a laptop-style keyboard.

Zagg went one step further and included a 6th line of keys, all specific to the iPad, just like the iPad Keyboard Dock. It includes media controls, home and lock keys, search, virtual keyboard pop-up, and slideshow buttons, but instead of brightness and an unused key Zagg threw in cut, copy, and paste keys. They are entirely useless, because it’s actually more work to take command+x/c/v out of the user than it is to press the single specially-designed keys. I’d have liked to have seen some app-specific keys, or perhaps a programmable keys if such were possible. However, the best thing about having this extra line of keys is that unlike the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, the Keyboard Case has enough room for a complete keyboard without using any function buttons.

One further note: the Keyboard Case uses an identical rechargeable battery system as the Ultrathin, with a 6-month charge and a MicroUSB charging port. I’ve used the keyboard at length for this review, but haven’t used the battery fully after a month.

Without a doubt, the Logitech Keyboard Case designed by Zagg has the best typing experience of any Bluetooth or tablet keyboard. It’s no contest. In fact, I have to say that it’s a damn shame no one could do it earlier. The typing experience is on par with the best laptop keyboards. The problem is almost everything else. The case itself is actually a large screen protector. The frame is sharp and makes typing for long periods uncomfortable. And weight distribution when not on a flat surface, especially if typing with the iPad in portrait, can have the whole thing topple over. And it’s not a good looking product at all. If you can put the numerous problems behind you, then you get rewarded with the best wireless typing experience available anywhere.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Fair

Bottom Line: The best typing experience of any iPad keyboard, but overall uncomfortable and lacking.

Pros:

  • Excellent keyboard, the best of any iPad Bluetooth keyboard
  • Battery lasts seemingly forever

Cons:

  • ‘Case’ part of the keyboard is not a case at all, just a cover
  • Shell is sharp and uncomfortable to lean against, especially when typing
  • iPad placement leaves the keyboard unevenly weighted, making it difficult to hold steady when typing on the lap










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.