Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad Air review: A keyboard case made to survive a spill
Sturdy and cleanly designed, Logitech's top-end iPad Air case looks the part, but it's lacking something in the typing comfort department.
Carrying a keyboard case with your iPad has suddenly gotten a lot easier: when it comes to the lighter iPad Air, inserting an accessory no longer feels like quite such a hassle.
The Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad Air is one early beneficiary. When I reviewed a Logitech FabricSkin for the fourth-gen iPad, I found the case excellent but the construction pretty bulky. A lot's changed: the Air version is significantly slimmed down, and feels more minimal, while the keyboard is just as good. The design, because it's so minimal, may not appeal to everybody. In fact, the keyboard may not either. Or the price: $149.99 is expensive compared with the competition.
The FabricSkin seems to be sheathed in a rubbery, siliconelike material; on the outside, the smooth surface feels soft, while on the inside the rubberized fabric has a little more friction. Because that rubberized texture covers the keyboard as well, the keys have a totally different feel than most keyboards: keys are responsive, but feel flat and oddly spaced. I found it harder to rapidly type on the keyboard, maybe because I didn't know where my fingers were going. The requisite iOS-specific media controls and command shortcuts are there, but the layout's all just a bit unfamiliar.
The modified key layout matches the previous FabricSkin: the A key shares its space with Caps Lock, the Tab and Q keys are combined, and colon/semicolon and other punctuation keys are compressed. It's weird, because the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover doesn't do this at all. I got used to it over time, and the build quality's still great, but it could annoy a lot of people. Live with it for a week, and you'll be fine, but if you use any other keyboard (like a PC, for instance), you'll keep noticing the layout change.
This is Logitech's top-end keyboard case, and it does have premium features: it automatically pairs with the iPad after snapping into position against a magnet above the keyboard. This saves battery life and means that the case, when folded open into tablet-viewing mode, deactivates the keyboard. Keys underneath won't work if accidentally pressed by the case's top edge.
The FabricSkin recharges via Micro-USB, and comes with a cable. A full charge should last at least three months, according to Logitech; I haven't spent anywhere near that time with the case, so I can't vouch for that battery life.
There's not a lot holding the iPad Air in this case: just two thin corner guards that you slide it into to position the iPad into place. It's nearly naked otherwise, sandwiched between the keyboard and top half. That mean the iPad is a little less protected, but with the case closed it feels ready to buffer against impact. It still weighs 0.94 pound, however, nearly as much as the iPad Air itself. You're doubling your travel weight, but adding a case and a keyboard.
This case is for someone who loves having a splash- and spill-resistant keyboard. Maybe someone with kids. It's a good case, but for this price it's not great. And better alternatives exist. More than anything, I just wish Logitech hadn't messed with its already-great keyboard formula.