Review: Logitech Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-On Keyboard Cover for iPad Air

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The Logitech Ultrathin series of keyboards has been around a while now, and they’re probably some of the most-used iPad keyboards. The appeal of the Ultrathin is fairly evident once you see one: the aluminum and plastic keyboard fits over the iPad Air, just like a Smart Cover. However, take it off, plant the iPad in the built-in rest, and you’ve suddenly got a fully functional typing station that’s stable enough to use on your lap, or at a proper desk. The 2014 Ultrathin redesign brought two new tricks to the table: a very clever foldaway iPad hinge, and a tilting iPad stand.

The new hinge was really the major reason that I approached Logitech for a review sample of this keyboard. I’d bought a few of the previous versions of the Ultrathin, but the cleanliness of this year’s iPad hinge really takes the cake. By default, the hinge will just fold flat and stay nearly invisible along the rear edge of the keyboard. In this form, the Ultrathin just looks like a Bluetooth keyboard with a built-in stand.

Once you’re ready to go, you’ll pick up the iPad, slide the left side of the tablet towards the rear of the keyboard, and the hinge will simply pop right out of the casing and latch onto the iPad. The only caveat is that you’ve got to be more precise with an Ultrathin than with a Smart Cover, and the magnets won’t necessarily auto-align perfectly with the iPad. In nine out of ten instances, this isn’t a problem, but every once in a while the iPad doesn’t align quite properly.

Removing the iPad from the hinge is as simple as sliding it away from the rear of the keyboard; the hinge will fall flat right back into the keyboard, thanks to that handy gravity thing the Earth has going for it.

This clever hinge is really fantastic in most situations, and there’s really only one specific instance in which it’s not ideal. If you’re the kind of person who keeps the iPad + Ultrathin in a bag for quick access on the bus or train, it can be difficult to re-attach the iPad to the keyboard if your bag is tightly packed. The hinge won’t open magnetically if there isn’t enough room for it to pop out inside of the bag. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s something I encountered on my daily commute to work.

 

Once the iPad is out, you’ll want to place it into the magnetic tilting stand. I believe every previous Ultrathin cleverly hid magnets in their built-in stands, which allowed them to be more stable when using the iPad in your lap (and drastically decreased the possibility of your iPad tilting and falling to the floor). However, this year’s Ultrathin is the first version to offer a tablet stand that actually tilts backward. If the nearly–90 degree default angle isn’t quite right for you, all you need to do is push back on your iPad Air, and it will tilt to nearly 45 degrees.

This stand is solid for holding the iPad in place while typing; it can quiver a little when you tap the screen tilted to its most extreme angles, but it’s still definitely usable. The stand requires a surprising amount of force to push back into its default flat position, but I did find a trick after a few days with the Ultrathin: if you do need to fold the stand back into place, just take the iPad out, dock it with the magnetic hinge, and push down with the entire iPad’s screen to fold the Ultrathin’s stand flat again.

As is the case with Logitech’s other keyboards, the months-long battery life on this keyboard is so good that it’s basically impossible to test during a normal review timeline. I haven’t had to recharge it once in the two weeks I’ve used it, and I use my iPad Air quite heavily at work. The keys on the Ultrathin also feel great. There’s a surprising amount of click on 99% of the keys, despite the keyboard’s amazingly thin profile. I only had trouble with two keys (the left arrow and the Home button), though I was able to fix one of them by jiggling the key and removing extra glue with a pocket knife.

The only thing that I think the Ultrathin is missing at this point is some form of auto-disconnection. Belkin’s keyboards have spoiled me in this regard, since they’ll intelligently disconnect the Bluetooth keyboards from the iPads when the magnets no longer sense the tablet’s presence. This is great if you bring your iPad around the office and need to use it as a tablet, and not as a mini laptop. As it is, I have to either turn the Logitech keyboard off using its built-in power switch, or quickly toggle deactivate Bluetooth on my iPad after swiping up to access Control Center.

Conclusion

The Ultrathin was one of the first great iPad keyboards, and this latest redesign does the series proud. The hideaway hinge and tilting stand are genuinely useful and sleek additions to this premium keyboard, and the only real pity here is that it can be difficult to tell which Ultrathin keyboard is which on Logitech’s website. The key is to either for “Logitech Ultrathin 2014” on Google, read reviews like mine, or watch for the wording “Ultrathin Magnetic Clip-on” on Logitech’s website. Otherwise, it’s too easy to confuse this awesome 2014 redesign with last year’s Ultrathin Cover for iPad Air.

The Ultrathin was provided by Logitech for review on iPad Insight. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

 


Thomas

My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

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