When you have a tablet as thin and light as the iPad Air, the last thing you want is to weigh it down with heavy accessories. The attractive $99 Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth keyboard case weighs less than a pound and provides an above-average typing experience. Plus, it lets you adjust the angle of your iPad, a feature many keyboard cases lack. But the Ultrathin isn't the ultimate option.
The bottom of the Ultrathin is made of aluminum, which is a shade darker than the white iPad Air. On the flip side, the deck is a glossy black plastic, while the keys are a matte black. A white version of the Ultrathin is also available.
At the back of the Ultrathin is a magnetic hinge that connects to your iPad Air. A slot about two-thirds of the way up holds the Air when in use, and below that is the keyboard. Along the right side is a button to pair the keyboard via Bluetooth, a microUSB port to recharge the keyboard, and a switch to turn it on and off.
The Logitech Ultrathin is very similar in looks and name to the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. Both cost $99. The difference is that the newer Ultrathin's hinge lies flush with the rest of the case when not in use, and that the slot that the iPad Air rests in can be angled backwards.
Measuring 9.45 x 6.9 x 0.25 inches and weighing 0.71 pounds, the Logitech Ultrathin is thinner and lighter than the Belkin QODE (9.45 x 6.8 x 0.4 inches and 0.83 pounds), not to mention the 1.15-pound Brydge+ case. To be fair, the latter also includes a speaker.
We like that the Logitech Ultrathin has a dedicated row of iPad-specific keys. Unfortunately, of the two defining features of the Ultrathin -- its flush-mounted hinge and the ability to change the angle of the iPad Air -- neither works well.
Let's start with the hinge. In order to carry your Air so that its screen is protected by the Ultrathin, you must attach it via the hinge in the back. The plastic recessed hinge is designed to pop up automatically when you bring the tablet close. Too bad this trick only works when you slide the Air flush with the case. Otherwise, you have to turn the keyboard upside down to open the hinge. It's a needless extra step.
One of our recurring criticisms of keyboard cases is that many don't let you angle the iPad when it's in use. The Ultrathin attempts to alleviate that by letting you tilt the tablet, from about 20 degrees past vertical to 40 degrees. But while tilting the iPad back is easy, the magnets that hold the tablet in place are so weak that whenever we tried to move the Air to its original position, it popped out of the keyboard case.
The Ultrathin's island-style keys offered an above-average typing experience. Logitech takes better advantage of the available real estate than Belkin's QODE, and the Ultrathin's keys are slightly larger, too.
Although the Logitech Ultrathin keyboard case's keys had just 1mm of travel, compared to 1.5mm on the Belkin QODE, their larger size allowed us to type at a rate of 61 words per minute, compared to 56 wpm on Belkin's keyboard.
Neither keyboard performed as well as the Brydge+, whose large keys and 2 mm of travel allowed us to average between 63 and 69 wpm.
Logitech estimates that the Ultrathin will last up to three months on a charge if the keyboard gets about 2 hours of use each day.
While the $99 Logitech Ultrathin offers a good typing experience in an attractive chassis, the two "improvements" -- its recessed hinge and that it lets you tilt your iPad -- are more of an inconvenience than anything. While it's bulkier (and not yet available for the Air), the Brydge+ keyboard offers the best typing experience overall. But if you like Logitech's design, opt for the older Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, which costs the same and performs just as well -- without the gimmicks.