Putting your tablet to good use now are you? Typing away on that virtual on-screen keyboard, no tactile feedback to greet your every tap. It must be awful. Not to mention the amount of space on-screen keyboards occupy, robbing you from a true desktop typing experience. But what if we were to tell you that writing out a full essay using a tablet such as the iPad Air or even the iPad mini at a near-desktop level with nothing but an ultra-thin cover to take along with you...is actually possible.
All you need is Logitech's new and updated Ultrathin (also unofficially referred to as the Ultrathin 2), the company's best magnetic keyboard cover for the iPad Air and iPad mini to date that features a built-it physical Bluetooth keyboard you only need to recharge once every three months. It's a much improved version of its predecessor the original Ultrathin – a finer tuned magnetic clip-on cover with improved viewing angle flexibility compared to its predecessor. The updated model is also thinner than its predecessor at 6.4mm (0.25-inches), which is also thinner than the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. And thanks to its rigid aluminum construction, the Ultrathin 2 is also 2/3 of the weight of iPad. Sounds promising to say the least. As always, you can find our full and in-depth review after the jump!
Not much is there to expect when opening up the utilitarian packaging of the Ultrathin except for a rather lengthy micro-USB charging cable and a straightforward quick start guide. You won't find a USB wall adapter for charging, then again when you find out how long this thing can last on a single charge all will be forgiven. Two different model sizes were made of the Ultrathin keyboard cover: an iPad Air model which is available in Space Gray and in silver that will cost you $100, and a smaller version made to be compatible with both the original iPad mini as well as the newer iPad mini with Retina display that is also available in the same two flavors but will cost you a bit less at $90. As far as the price is concerned, Logitech's Ultrathin is no more expensive than its biggest competitor - the Belkin Qode Thin Type.
I don't know about you, but when I need to put on my serious typing game face on and all I have with me is a tablet, I'd much prefer to use a physical keyboard than type on a virtual one. I'm much faster and more accurate when I type on a physical keyboard, and the fact that I can see more of what I'm typing on the screen without a giant on-screen keyboard taking up all of my screen real estate is why I choose to either use my laptop, or some form of an external keyboard accessory if and only when all I'm taking with me is an iPad. I've tried many different kinds of keyboard accessories for the iPad including Apple's very own Bluetooth wireless keyboard made for stationary use. None of those were as portable and as incredibly slim as Logitech's new Ultrathin. It's a keyboard cover that clips on like a Smart Cover and does not add bulk to the iPad Air or iPad mini when you want to use your tablet other than to type on, yet will transform your iPad into a makeshift laptop when you need a physical keyboard to type on.
Logitech's redesigned Ultrathin is made using aluminum and plastic to form a sturdy keyboard surface and a durable clip-on protective cover for the iPad that will also match its exterior beauty on a meticulously detailed level. The build quality is excellent, one of the best we've seen. The exterior of the Ultrathin is made out of one single piece of aluminum featuring a fine surface finish that compliments that of the iPad Air and iPad mini. Logitech even made sure to perfectly match Apple's Space Gray and silver aluminum colors so that the two will seem as though they were made for each other. In addition to that, the interior of each of these models feature theme-matched color combination of either a black keyboard to match the aluminum Space Gray exterior and black glass screen bezels of iPads – while a white colored keyboard perfectly matches that of the silver aluminum exterior and white glass screen bezels of white iPads.
There are two things that make the Ultrathin stand out from its predecessor and pretty much every other keyboard cover of this type (no pun intended), and that is its newly designed magnetic clip-on hinge which attaches to the side of the iPad a la Smart Cover. It has been engineered into the cover itself rather than hang loosely off the edge. When you're using the Ultrathin, that hinge seamlessly hides away into the flat surface that is behind the keyboard layout. When you're done using your iPad and it's time to get moving, all you do is bring the edge of your iPad near the surface and the magnetic hinge will automagically spring out to make a secure joint connection just like Apple's Smart Cover and Smart Case accessories.
The Ultrathin's sleek and refined body closely matches the iPad's form factor in order to blend with it as if it was its other half. When covering the iPad's screen, the Ultrathin works just like a cover, albeit it does not fold nor can it be folded around the back of the iPad like an ordinary cover can. And this brings us to a rather important point, which is that you won't be able to use any protective cases when you're using the Ultrathin. Meaning you'll have very little protection. That said, it will be an ideal choice if you like using your iPad without anything on it during casual hands-on use. You could always add a thin skin to protect the back of your tablet, but you won't be able to apply any glass screen protectors on the front. Part of the Ultrathin's design was meant to serve as a protective cover for the front side of your iPad during transport, and it does this very well we think. So what happens when you want to get hands-on with your iPad? You leave the Ultrathin keyboard cover on the table and use your iPad in all its bare nakedness.
The back of the redesigned Ultrathin is very svelte much like the iPad itself apart from an etched Logitech branding and these much needed rubber feet which help keep the aluminum surface from scuffing and scratching on flat surfaces whilst also ensuring that the entire platform remains fixed in place instead of sliding around when you're typing on the keyboard.
On the inside, the Ultrathin keyboard is made entirely out of a very high quality textured matte plastic that doesn't come close to feeling cheaply made, which is a good thing of course. In between the keys you'll notice that there's a glossy finish to give the keyboard an interesting look. We don't really mind glossy plastics, but on the black model it tends to show filth more easily. That said, we're very impressed by the Ultrathin's rigid construction, extraordinarily thin and portable profile and beautiful aluminum finish. It's worth nothing that even though one side of this keyboard cover is made out of plastic, there are no creaking noises or sinking keyboard presses to speak of.
If you're worried about the keyboard harming your screen, you may be relieved to know that there is an ample amount of elevated soft rubbery padded points across the keyboard surface that are what keep the hard plastics away from contacting the glass when the cover is closed. Also, magnets keep the keyboard cover flush and connected to the front of the iPad just like Apple's Smart Cover. When you open up the cover, these magnets will also wake your iPad as well as put in to sleep when you close it.
Once you've finished playing around with the magnetic hinge clip mechanism, you will be blown away by the Ultrathin's flexible, multi-angle stand feature. Microsoft's new Surface Pro 3 tablet may have the iPad beat with its ingenious multi-position kickstand and Type Cover keyboard, but thanks to Logitech's Ultrathin keyboard cover you know have a very similar viewing adjustment capability in a ultra-portable package.
Much like the original Ultrathin keyboard cover, the Ultrathin 2 features a magnetic stand that securely holds the iPad in place at a horizontal orientation, only that this one is designed to move up and down like a fluid laptop hinge. It enables you to tilt the screen back smoothly to adjust the viewing angle of your iPad. I can't stress enough how useful this is when typing. Instead of a fixed near 90-degree angle you often times find yourself limited to when using a Keyboard cover accessory, the Ultrathin's flexible stand opens up a more versatile typing experience no matter where or how you use your iPad to type. Not even Belkin's note worthy and albeit inferior rival, Qode Thin Type keyboard for the iPad Air, can match this level of flexibility and seamless design refinements.
The stand, while flexible, is also extremely stable at any adjustable angle when you interact with your iPad's touchscreen. So you never feel like you're using a fragile accessory that cannot be trusted with your beloved investment to get work done wherever it may be, and we're really impressed by the level of hardware quality invested into developing this keyboard cover by Logitech.
While it wasn't designed to hold an iPad in portrait orientation like its predecessor, the Ultrathin will allow you to place your iPad at that configuration is that is what you're most comfortable with. Just be aware that it will not be secured in position using magnets.
The groove in which the iPad slides into features a strong line of magnets that keep the iPad attached to the keyboard cover at all times which is great for when you're using it on questionable surfaces like your bed or couch. And in fact, it's so secure that you can literally pick up the keyboard cover by the end of your iPad without it letting go. With such a connection between these two devices, the Ultrathin feels like it is a part of your iPad when you're moving it around from one surface to the next.
To save power, the Ultrathin will eventually turn itself off after closing the cover against the iPad. But it will not automatically wake itself using its magnets when you open the cover and snap the iPad into the flexible stand. The good news is that as soon as you press a key the keyboard will instantly turn on and reconnect over Bluetooth with your iPad. And while we're on the subject, battery life is extraordinarily awesome. Logitech promises up to three months of use on a single full charge as long as you use the Ultrathin on average of two hours each day. Although we couldn't test this potential, based on our experience with numerous products we have no reason to doubt Logitech in this regard as it consistently proven to back its battery performance claims time and time again.
If we flip it on its side, we can see that only on one side is where the Ultrathin has all of its hardware controls and inputs like the micro-USB charging port, a power on/off switch as well as a Bluetooth pairing button. Missing of course is a battery gauge so that users will be able to check how much battery is left on the Ultrathin. Sadly, there isn't even support for a Bluetooth battery status on iOS. You'll either have to wait until the LED light blinks a low-battery warning alerting you that there's approximately 20% battery remaining – or play it safe and make sure to always recharge right before leaving for a long trip. As far as battery life goes, the Ultrathin 2 makes no improvement over its predecessor. That said, three months of moderate daily usage is nothing to sneeze at. It's plentiful.
A great looking and functioning design is an important ingredient in any product, but what really matters here is the typing experience. And I'm afraid to say that typing on the Ultrathin keyboard for the iPad mini is a mixed bag of frustration and satisfaction. To say that this keyboard isn't extremely cramped would be an absolute lie. It's quite difficult to type on comfortably, and if you've got some kind of condition like arthritis or you simply have large fingers, you best look for something else right now. The layout is not spacious at all, though thankfully the QWERTY keys aren't cut in half like most of the supplemental keys and are indeed slightly separated from one another using an island-style spacing rather than be clumped against each other like the Microsoft Surface Type Cover keyboard. Nonetheless, the chiclet-style keys are a welcome and familiar Logitech staple which virtually all Mac and Logitech keyboard users will find to be easy and insanely relaxing to type on regardless of how tightly-spaced they may seem in comparison.
Coming from a standard-sized keyboard, the Logitech K811, typing on the Ultrathin feels like typing on a small smartphone keyboard at first. I've managed to make countless typing mistakes when I first started using the Ultrathin to type this review using the iPad mini with Retina display. Having said all that, with a bit of practice and simply adjusting my fingers to the confined key layout as oppose to where they are naturally trained to move on a standard-sized keyboard, my typing performance greatly improved and I was able to swiftly move across the Ultrathin's daintily keyboard with little to no missed key presses and mistakes. Once you get the hang of it, the Ultrathin keyboard is one splendid keyboard that's actually very enjoyable to type on. The keys are silent, have a soft yet highly tactile and light springy input response with a low-profile key stroke throw. It comes at no surprise. Logitech makes some of the world's best keyboards and the technology invested into the Ultrathin shows that quality in keyboard engineering...no matter how microscopic.
You get a good amount of keyboard functionality with the Ultrathin keyboard for the iPad mini such as a top row of numeric keys combined with a set of function keys. It's also worth mentioning that when typing on the keyboard there is absolutely no flex to it like you experience with some of the less expensive offerings out there. It is as solid as any great keyboard out there that is supported by a firm metal construction.
As we move on to the Ultrathin keyboard for the iPad Air, there's an obvious difference in size. While both have the same battery life, design and soft tactile keys, the keyboard layout of the Ultrathin for the iPad Air isn't as sacrificed as it is on the iPad mini version – which naturally leads to a more comfortable and spacious typing experience for your hands. Because there's more space to work with, you also have more dedicated function buttons as oppose to multi-function buttons that require the use of an 'fn' or 'alt' key in order to be used. That top row is exclusively reserved for multi-media and function buttons like audio playback controls. Even frequently used keys such as the 'delete', 'caps lock' and 'shift' keys are larger and easier to reach compared to the Ultrathin keyboard for the iPad mini.
And that's the thing, Logitech did the best it could in designing a keyboard that would perfectly fit the size of each iPad model only to be constrained by the size of their form factor. A 7.9-inch screen can only give you so much room to stuff a somewhat feature-rich keyboard into a form-fitted enclosure, which is why the 9.7-inch screen size of the iPad Air affords a more spacious keyboard design we think is ideal for the Ultrathin.
Unlike a normal keyboard you use with your computer, you still can't scroll through web pages using the arrow keys of the Ultrathin keyboard. You'll need to use the touchscreen to perform those kinds of gestures I'm afraid. And while you can use the dedicated home button on the keyboard to go back to the iPad's home screen or bring up the multi-task card view window, you can't use the arrow keys to swipe between opened apps. As much as we would have liked to see the Ultrathin perform more like a true desktop keyboard, these limitations may very well be due to iOS itself.
For the most part, the Ultrathin 2 keyboard cover models have all the familiar key functionalities that you expect to find in order to take command of your iPad typing needs without missing the on-screen virtual keyboard. Yes, even copy and paste. The only two things we miss having used Logitech's amazing K811 Bluetooth compact keyboard are brightness adjustments keys and the helpfulness of a illuminated keyboard feature when wanting to type in the dark.
Logitech's Redesigned Ultrathin Is The iPad Keyboard Cover We've Been Waiting For All This Time
After successfully typing this entire review using nothing but the Ultrathin and iPad mini, I feel as though my fingers can keep on typing but my hands do feel somewhat fatigued. And that is why we recommend that you either use a normal sized wireless keyboard like Logitech's K811 if you have an iPad mini. It won't be nearly as convenient to use as the Ultrathin and its built-in flexible stand, but you won't need to complain about having to type on such a small keyboard. But who knows, you may find it to be a very compelling package for your needs regardless of how we feel about its small size. And if you're an iPad Air user, then by all means grab yourself Logitech's new and improved Ultrathin as it is hands-down one of the most impressive and enjoyable to use keyboard covers we have tested.
Logitech's redesigned Ultrathin magnetic clip-on keyboard cover is an excellent accessory that will turn your iPad into a more familiar and easier to use productivity device. It's incredibly thin and lightweight, well built, versatile, has outstanding battery performance, it's a pleasure to type, it beautifully compliments the design of the iPad and offers a highly portable on-the-go carry solution without compromising the form factor of the iPad Air and iPad mini itself. Best of all, it's a worthy and refined successor to the original Ultrathin name and even bests Belkin's note worthy Qode Thin Type keyboard cover. We highly recommend it.