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Logitech Slim Combo for iPad Pro review: Logitech's iPad Pro keyboard is a case study in trade-offs

We put Logitech's Slim Combo case up against Apple's Smart Keyboard to see which types best.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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3 min read

I have one major need in an iPad keyboard: I need to be able to write wherever I go.

logitech-slim-combo
7.3

Logitech Slim Combo for iPad Pro

The Good

Great-feeling keyboard. Comes with a back cover. Holds Apple Pencil. Multi-angle stand. Back case detaches from keyboard. Keyboard has backlighting and extra function keys.

The Bad

Not lap-friendly at all. 10.5-inch version is hard to fit on a narrow table, and has a stiff plastic cover that adds bulk. Chunky design adds bulk to the thin iPad. (The 12.9-inch model has a better feel and narrower footprint in keyboard mode.)

The Bottom Line

Logitech's versatile keyboard case is a lot less expensive than Apple's slim cover, but its thick two-piece design is better for desk use than lap-typing.

Logitech's made some of my favorite iPad keyboards: the Ultrathin, and the Create, which grew to stay on my 9.7-inch Pro full-time. Maybe, over time, Logitech's new-design Slim Combo case for the new iPad Pro seemed like the thing I needed to use the iPad as a useful laptop alternative. But, right now, after a few days, I'm frustrated. You will be too, if you're looking for a lap-friendly case… because this isn't.

But if you're buying a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Logitech's new case is great.

How can these both be true? Consider this an iPad Case Study.

Keyboarding your iPad Pro: Logitech's Slim Combo in both sizes

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The 10.5-inch iPad case has hits and misses

After a week with the Slim Combo on the iPad Pro 10.5, here's the good news: There's a great keyboard. It's backlit, and key travel is perfect. As a typing experience, this is the best keyboard, miles better than Apple's Smart Keyboard Cover. But it's no bigger than before: it's the same exact-sized keyboard that's on the Create 9.7 Pro case, with thicker sides.

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The 10.5-inch Slim Combo's keyboard base feels huge.

Sarah Tew/CNET

And now, for better and worse, it's part of a two-piece case package. There's a plastic back cover with Pencil holder, and the keyboard magnetically snaps onto the bottom. The back case has a kickstand to keep the iPad up at any angle. It's like the case turns the iPad into a Microsoft Surface. There's a Pencil-holding loop, too. But the case, with keyboard lid closed, is really bulky.

That's fine for desk work, but it's completely lap-unfriendly; it borrows the worst design elements of the Microsoft Surface in that regard. The floppy-attaching keyboard and kickstand will barely rest on my legs. Better find a large, flat coffee-shop table, where this is meant to rest. Also, the wider keyboard base means a larger footprint, meaning a tighter fit for narrow airline trays and tiny coffee shop counters.

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The larger 12.9-inch version has a better-designed keyboard.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The 12.9-inch version: Somehow, it all works

The better Logitech option, oddly, is the same case for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which has a better cover, and a thinner case. It's fitted better, and has a keyboard that's not only larger, but folds in to make a tinier footprint on a table. The kickstand and two-part design are the same, but feel better-tuned for the larger Pro…less bulky, more like a way to turn the iPad into a mini iMac, or multiangle Surface Studio.

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The best thing about these cases: adjustable-angle kickstands.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's still not lap-friendly. But on the giant 12.9-inch iPad -- unlike the 10.5-inch model -- I'm less likely to use it in my lap.

The iPad I'm more likely to use is the 10.5-inch version, though. And Logitech's 10.5-inch Slim Combo isn't the iPad Pro laptop adapter I was looking for.

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Slim Combo for 12.9-inch Pro (left) and 10.5-inch Pro (right). I prefer the 12.9 version.

Sarah Tew/CNET

To summarize, here's what I like about the Logitech Slim Combo:

  • It is backlit. Which is nice, and adjustable.

  • It has a row of iPad-specific shortcuts like volume and display brightness, which Apple's Smart Keyboard, weirdly, lacks.

  • Key travel is great. It feels like a real laptop, versus Apple's soft, mushy Smart Keyboard keys.

  • A multiangle kickstand on the back is a great Surface-like iPad stand.

  • The rear case detaches from the keyboard, makes its own stand.

  • It offers back protection in one package, unlike Apple's Smart Keyboard Cover.

  • It can hold Pencil.

And here's what I don't like:

  • It has a Pencil holder loop, but it's ugly. It juts from the top and can't be hidden.

  • The thick bottom keyboard is one slab of plastic, and needlessly large.

  • The back shell is also thick. Combined, it's a bulky package.

  • The keyboard cover slips and slides, doesn't cover iPad well at all.

  • You can't use this in your lap!

  • The rear kickstand and large keyboard mean a huge desk footprint.

  • Can't use the pull-apart keyboard on its own like a Bluetooth one, because this requires Smart Connector power.

Advice: Get the 12.9-inch version, but 10.5-inch one is best for desk use only

Owners of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro who don't need to type on their lap should give this Logitech model serious consideration over the Apple version. As for the 10-inch version… I just hope Logitech revisits a larger version of the Create keyboard, which I've come to love.


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logitech-slim-combo
7.3

Logitech Slim Combo for iPad Pro

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 7