ore isn’t always better, even if AT&T thinks it is. That may be why I had a tepid response when Logitech asked if I’d like to try out the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, the company’s latest iPad keyboard folio. By all accounts it looks like a real winner, but one minor detail makes all the difference. In this case, for the worse.
The FabricSkin is a high-quality iPad case with a cloth-based keyboard. It’s well built and designed in nearly every respect; thick yet sturdy, feels great in the hand, slick in the bag and on a desk…by and large a great case. It’s equipped with a clever magnetic strip that not only holds the iPad in place so users can type, it also activates the keyboard, conserving battery life and taking away another step from users (you never have to turn the keyboard on or off). This singular design element is the most brilliant I’ve seen in any keyboard case for any tablet.
As with most iPad cases, opening the lid activates the iPad. The keyboard’s battery is still going strong after a month’s charge, which Logitech claims lasts up to three months. Charging is easy through an included MicroUSB charging cable.
Nearly everything has been designed perfectly. The FabricSkin is one of the smartest, sleekest, and most well thought-out iPad cases I have ever tested. But, there is one fatal flaw, what may be the worst blind spot in history:a shoddy, difficult to press spacebar.
When you think about keyboards, most people don’t realize that the spacebar is the most critical key there is. Most of us can get away with missing a letter…English is flexible enough to do that (assuming it isn’t a vowel). For a few days until we can get the keyboard fixed, one broken key doesn’t necessarily ruin it. Unless that key is the spacebar. Because hey, every word has to end sometime, amirite? On the FabricSkin, the spacebar is way too difficult to press. It requires a Herculean push to activate, compared to the touch-type feel of the rest of the keys, which is too stark a contrast for productive typing.
That’s not to say users can’t type on the FabricSkin; I have done it myself for over a month. But I don’t like it. Keyboards aren’t fun, per se, but they need to be functional and balanced. The force required for the spacebar is so far beyond what every other keystroke needs that it makes what feels like a decent typing experience feel plain awful.
The pain of typing on the FabricSkin isn’t abysmal, but it’s there. I forget it every time I use the case as a case, and remember it every time I finish my first word, and then think twice about using it. For quick emails or messages the FabricSkin works just fine; anything more and it becomes a self-inflicted Sisyphus-ian challenge.
Such a serious problem from the keyboard begs the question: if Logitech has two FabricSkin cases — the case and the Keyboard Folio — why not just stick with the case? That’s what I recommend users do, because the case itself (which remains untested; claim based on Keyboard Folio) seems like a far better, thinner choice. As a case the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio is the best I have ever used…and yet after completing my testing I went back to a much thinner case because I don’t need the keyboard’s added thickness. But with just the case, I’d use it regularly. All because of a darned spacebar.
If you’re interested in a good keyboard case, check out Logitech’s Solar Keyboard Folio, which isn’t as classy but has a much better keyboard.
Bottom line: One of the best cases tested, but with one fatal flaw.