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Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air review: Air-ified keyboard done well

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My favorite keyboard accessory has always been, and still is, the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. The only problem: it doesn't fit an iPad Air. Thanks to the Air's reduction in overall size and footprint, the old cover's too wide, and an Air will perch awkwardly in the original's prop-up groove.

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8.0

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The <b>Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air</b> has an excellent, uncompromising keyboard and solid build quality, and it packs flat.

The Bad

Lacks advanced case features like automatic Bluetooth pairing or multiple viewing angles; doesn't protect back of your iPad.

The Bottom Line

The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air isn't quite as ultrathin-feeling as the original iPad cover, but it's still an excellent -- if feature-minimal -- Bluetooth keyboard accessory.

The new Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for the iPad Air solves that problem: it's shaved down in overall footprint, but has mostly the same feel. And best of all, the keys are as good as ever, and the layout hasn't changed. Neither has the price: it's $99.99.

But that doesn't mean there aren't drawbacks. When the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover first debuted, it was the thinnest keyboard around, had a unique magnetic side clasp to attach like a Smart Cover, and had few competitors. Now many manufacturers make similar thin keyboards. And, this Ultrathin cover doesn't seem quite so thin anymore: not only is it a bit thicker than the previous design, but the iPad Air's thinner than the previous iPad, too.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Instead of feeling like a wafer-thin add-on, this keyboard cover nearly doubles the thickness of the iPad. The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover weighs 0.74 pound, less than the 0.94 and 0.92 of the Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio and Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for the Air, respectively. The cover has additional magnets to autolock the iPad Air when the cover's closed, but rests a little off the iPad with cushioned bumpers. It feels a little weird, but at least it feels solid when closed flat.

The Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case (left) and Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio (center) have features that the Ultrathin Cover (right) lacks. Sarah Tew/CNET

There are other downsides...or rather, features that no longer seem impressive when compared with the competition. First off, this cover doesn't autopair when connected, a wonderful magic-trick-style perk I look for in accessories. The Belkin case and Logitech folio both have this feature. Here, you have to switch on the keyboard via a small tab on the side, and remember to switch it off when done or it'll still work -- even when separated from the Air by several feet.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Also, there are no adjustable angles: the iPad Air's angle when in the keyboard cover works fine for me during lap typing and on a desk, but the Belkin case can adjust to three angles. And, of course, this Logitech cover doesn't protect your iPad's back; it's just a cover for the front. Some people have bareback iPads, but I prefer a case or a sleeve.

Sarah Tew/CNET

And yet, I still love this accessory. Why? Because it's thinner than using a full keyboard case, it attaches cleanly, it feels rock-solid, and has a great keyboard. No keys are weirdly compressed, except for a few right-side punctuation keys. Some iOS-specific commands are folded into the number keys, or cleverly integrated into the keyboard (cut and paste, for instance, require pressing Fn-X and Fn-V, similarly to on a regular laptop). The matte keys have solid travel and feel comfortable, and have excellent response. And, I write quickly when using it -- this whole review was written on it, and it felt great to use. After all, that's why you buy a keyboard in the first place.

The Ultrathin Keyboard Cover's keyboard (top) has a much better layout than the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, also by Logitech (bottom). Sarah Tew/CNET

The cover still charges via Micro-USB, and has an included cable. To set up Bluetooth pairing, you press a small button on the side next to the power switch.

So there you have it: the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover may not be quite the uncontested iPad accessory it once was, but it remains a top pick for me. The only regret I have is that this product only serves and fits the iPad Air, whereas the previous model fit the iPad 2, 3, and 4. At $99.99, that might be a little hard to swallow.

Logitech_Ulrathin_Keyboard_Cover_for_iPad_Air_35833115_07.jpg
8.0

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 9