Not all products are built right the first time around. Some just need a little more time in the oven to cook. The original FabricSkin Keyboard Folio from Logitech was a smartly built but tragically-flawed keyboard for the iPad 2-4. For the iPad Air the company corrected that heinous error, and in the process made the expensive $150 keyboard case worth owning.
Though perhaps it’s still overpriced.
The FabricSkin is almost identical to the previously-reviewed model except that the keys are slightly better (a tad higher-profile) and the spacebar is no longer broken. Now the most important keys works no matter how or where you press it. With those two traits in the bag, the new FabricSkin already appears like an excellent keyboard. And in many ways it is thanks to a ton of neat features.
Most important is the magnetic on/off switch, which turns the keyboard on as soon as the iPad is locked into “type” mode. Stand your iPad Air upright and the keyboard instantly pops to life. Fold it over to watch a video or to close it and the keyboard snaps off instantly. “Boot” time is a mere 2-3 seconds, which is how long it takes Bluetooth to typically reconnect known devices. This also preserves battery life extremely well, which is already incredibly long thanks to a high-powered rechargeable battery that seems to last forever (after a full month of heavy use (averaging 2-3 hours of daily use, I still haven’t needed to recharge once).
Logitech’s keyboard design is simple enough to use for almost everything, though some of the function keys are useless. The biggest nuisance is the home button, which sits on the top right corner and pushes all of the number keys to the right slightly. This forces users to relearn to type keys just for this keyboard. The harsh reality is that there’s very little need of a home button on the keyboard, and even if Logitech decided to put it in, it could sit between the + and Delete key, or after the Delete key, or above one of the two side arrow keys. There are options; that’s not to say the home button isn’t well placed, but it does obstruct typing to an extreme. Learning to use the home button is easy; learning that the entire number row has moved an inch to the right is too much.
The FabricSkin Folio, which comes in three colors, is leather and holds the iPad steady with two plastic slabs, just like the Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad mini does. The larger size and weight of the iPad Air is too much for that plastic however, as after two weeks one of the sides of my test unit cracked. It still holds the iPad Air correctly, though the case lazily keeps the Air connected. The crack hasn’t proved to be a major issue; in fact, I didn’t notice it was broken for at least a day, nor is the iPad any easier to remove from the case. It holds the Air just as steady.
However, no matter how solid the Folio grips the Air, it still isn’t strong enough to not fall prey to the iPad case’s worst problem: accidentally unlocking in a bag. By not magnetically sealing tightly enough, many cases activate the keyboard when carried in a bag or even placed flat on a surface. Logitech has had the issue with several past cases, and while the company has improved on that widespread problem, this Folio does fall victim to over-caffeinating the iPad Air. Not too guilty; I’ve only had it happen a few times, though when packing the Air away I always make sure it’ll stay firmly shut in any bag.
The FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad Air is a strong case contender for your Air, but it’s far from perfect. The type experience is good, not great; that may never change with a cloth-covered keyboard, though it does provide some peace of mind that the iPad’s beautiful screen won’t get damaged from the case itself (not that I’ve ever seen any iPad damaged from a keyboard case’s own keys). Some key placement could be adjusted. Ease of use features like insta-on when magnetically connected and a battery that never seems to die are absolutely stunning, and the quality and feel of the case itself is excellent. The biggest trouble is the high $150 price tag, which is $50 more expensive than Logitech’s own Ultrathin Keyboard Folio for iPad Air, which just like it’s predecessor has no auto-on/off but does have a better keyboard. The FabricSkin fits a niche, but if you’re a productivity guru working on an iPad Air, the more stylish FabricSkin is the best option. But if you’re willing to give up the case in favor of a cover, stick with the less expensive Ultrathin Keyboard Case.
Also why not check out:
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- Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air Review
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