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Logitech iPad 2 Accessories

iPad 2 Keyboard Case and Fold-Up Keyboard

by Daniel Rasmus (02/28/2012)

Keyboards of tablets are always a compromise if they are built for the tablet (vs. using a full external Bluetooth or USB keyboard). The two Logitech keyboards reviewed here are no different, but each offers a unique reason for being.

First up with the Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 that was designed in conjunction with tablet skin and case maker Zagg (http://www.zagg.com/). This precision-machined aluminum keyboard also doubles as a travel case (it only fits the iPad face-down). When the iPad is extracted from the case and fit into the plastic slot behind the keyboard, the combo transforms into a well-angled typing experience..

Logitech is usually good at understanding the products with which it interfaces its products, and this keyboard is no exception. Home, lock, search, photos, play and pause, last-next song, volume control and lock take the place of traditional non-descript function keys. Key travel is good, much better than similar rubber-keyed keyboards. And it is amazingly thin.

I have three main concerns when it comes to this keyboard. First is its precision-build, which means carefully fitting the iPad into the case. I worry when putting glass against metal. I haven't wanted to test the result of a slip, but just that I am concerned about it makes the keyboard less enjoyable. The second issue is the cramped keyboard. I appreciate the full space bar and well considered layout, but touch-typing takes a more accurate touch than on full-sized keyboards, especially because the edges make the keyboard feel claustrophobic. The biggest issue is that, although the iPad fits well inside the Keyboard Case, it doesn't do so securely. Dropped straight down the iPad 2 would probably be greeted with a comfortable stop--but dropped at any angel whatsoever, and the iPad is likely to pop out of the case, completely unprotected (unless you head my skin and screen protector advice in the last paragraph of this review).

The second keyboard, the Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2 offers a much wider typing surface, but one that isn't as well integrated as the Keyboard Case. Function keys return, but oddly, with functions integrated into the number row of keys, not in a dedicated function row. This means Function-5 brings up the Photo app, while also managing the number 5 and the percent symbol.

Key travel is shallow and the overall feel is a bit flimsy. But this is a mobile keyboard. The biggest issue comes from the 1.3 lb. the keyboards adds to the iPad 2, along with nearly an inch in height. Ironically, because the case is pretty stable when open, it may be better as a desktop docking option than a travel option. Unlike the Keyboard Case, the Fold-up Keyboard securely snaps the iPad 2 into place.

Unfortunately, I can't outright recommend either keyboard as touch-typing is a unique experience for every writer. I personally prefer the feel of the Keyboard Case, even with its hint of claustrophobia. Others may like the more open, albeit more fragmented ,Fold-up Keyboard. If periodic, light-weight typing is your goal, the the Keyboard Case, perhaps not used as a case, but as an extra accessory, would be a good addition to your travel bag.

As cases go, I don't think either are ideal as day-to-day cases. For instance, neither case provides full to the iPad 2's rear-facing camera. The Fold-up Keyboard offers no opening, and the Keyboard Case requires removal of the iPad 2 in order to operate it.

I think Zagg and other skin and screen protector makers will do well with owners of both cases. For the Keyboard Case, I suggest at minimum, a skin for the iPad 2's back plate. If you are worried, as I cautioned above, about a possible metal-on-glass infraction, then a screen protector is also called for. The Fold-Up Keyboard protects the back of the iPad very well, but not its face, which begs for a screen protector. Logitech did leave room for an Apple Smart Cover on the Fold-Up Keyboard, but that also adds weight and cost to a solution.

Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 — US$99.99

Logitech Fold-Up Keyboard for iPad 2 — US$129.99

Daniel W. Rasmus is an independent analyst and strategy consultant. He is a former Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research. Dan is the author of five books, including Management by Design (Wiley, 2010) and Listening to the Future (Wiley 2008). He blogs regularly at http://danielwrasmus.wordpress.com. Additional information can be found at http://danielwrasmus.com.