iPad Ultrathin Keyboard Cover Battle: ZAGG v. Logitech

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iPad Ultrathin Keyboard Cover Battle: ZAGG v. Logitech

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The software options for getting some serious work done on an iPad are steadily increasing and becoming more and more sophisticated. iOS versions of Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Sheets and iWork are better than ever and while I’m still convinced that powering through a heavy workload is best done on a laptop, there’s no denying that the functionality is definitely there and for many, a tablet fills the bill quite nicely. With those increasing options in mind, I thought I’d give the ZAGGKeys PROplus and Logitech Ultrathin keyboard covers a run for their money and present them for you to decide which one you’re going to plunk down your hard-earned cash on. Ready? FIGHT!

What did I look for in a keyboard? The most flexible, bluetooth connected device possible, with long battery life and little, or no, latency were first on my list -along with typing comfort of course. After that, non-typing functionality was important. Does it double as a case or cover? Does it support the “sleep” function? And, lastly, the looks. For everything I will talk about in the article, you'll find a corresponding photo in the gallery above. Just hover the mouse over the photos to see a text description.



The Function: Keyboard, Battery Life & The Dock


Let’s start with the first set of features I was looking for. The most important feature, of course, is the ability to type without feeling like you need to be a contortionist. If you’re going to power through email, writing assignments and social media updates, you’re going to want to do it on a keyboard that doesn’t leave you feeling claustrophobic. To be clear, neither keyboard does that but there is indeed a difference in the spaciousness of each. The nod in this case goes to the ZAGG keyboard with its 6 rows of well-spaced chiclet keys. I found long periods of typing using ZAGG’s product to be rather effortless and one of the experiences closest to using a full-sized keyboard that I’ve had, short of using Apple’s wireless bluetooth keyboard which is what I’ve been using for some time.

Both keyboards feature a row of function keys, however on the Logitech keyboard, these keys are multi-function and require you to hold down the “fn” key, while ZAGG opted for a standalone row. I found that all the function keys worked just fine except for the Search key on Logitech’s keyboard and the Slideshow key on ZAGG’s keyboard. The replacement for the “Home” button on both keyboards and the copy and paste shortcut keys were extremely efficient features.

Aaaand, here comes the knit pick: ZAGG’s keyboard, with the exception of the keys, is fully aluminum, Logitech’s keyboard bed is glossy black so it’s a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Those of you with OCD may find that somewhat annoying. The only curious anomaly I found when typing with the ZAGG keyboard was that I would get double letters from time-to-time.

Both devices feature a docking slot which allows for you to set the iPad in either portrait or landscape mode but I’ll have to give the Logitech Pro the win on this one. While the slot and positioning feels reasonably secure with both keyboards, the Logitech keyboard’s slot is also magnetic, which doesn’t put the device to sleep, but does give it a bit of extra grip which is reassuring when you’re using the device on your lap or any other surface where the tablet and keyboard may not be level. Admittedly, there were a few times I was using my iPad under those circumstances when the device slid out of the ZAGG keyboard dock and onto the floor. That feat is met with a greater degree of difficulty with Logitech’s dock design due to a strong magnet which really holds your iPad in place (see below).

The docking magnet on Logitech's keyboard holds your iPad firmly in place.

Rounding out what I was looking for, the low latency wireless connectivity (responsiveness) was pretty even between the two devices but they differ in the amount of battery life. Logitech says that you should get around 6 months of battery life with roughly 2 hours a day of usage. ZAGG’s backlit keyboard is supposed to get about the same amount but there’s a factor that could make a difference and that is the backlight and how much you use it. weeks. Frankly, in the few weeks I’ve been using both keyboards, I haven’t been able to wear them out though I’m not a heavy tablet user anyway so battery life would be a non-issue for me. For the purposes of this review I significantly upped my usage, typing reviews and blog posts on my iPad.


Functionality: Protection & Other Functions


Both keyboards also function as protective covers and do an effective job. The ZAGGkeys PRO Plus has a magnet at the back edge and is slightly recessed so you kind of “lay” the iPad into the keyboard when not in use. No need to worry about your precious screen contacting the keyboard surface either as ZAGG has built little rubber bumpers into the four corners of the product for protection. With Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard, you get a magnetic hinge similar to the one found on the smart covers. When you lay your iPad flat on top of the keyboard/cover, the hinge flips up and attaches to the iPad. If there’s any margin of victory here, it is found in the protective design of the ZAGG offering. As I stated earlier, it has a “lip” around it which, when the iPad is not use, provides a small degree of protection to the corners of the device. Do I think it will provide any protection in an accidental drop? It’s hard to tell, but in this case, its probably better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

ZAGG Keys Protective ZAGG Keys Protective

The power and pairing functionality on both devices are on the right, rear corner with the Logitech having its microUSB charge port, power switch and bluetooth pairing button on the edge and the ZAGG device placing the pairing button and power slider on the top so they’re covered up when the iPad isn’t being used. One function key Logitech’s keyboard doesn’t have is a backlight key but that’s because its keys aren’t backlit. On the other hand, the ZAGG Pro Plus has backlit keys which feature 3 levels of brightness and 7 different colors: white, red, amber, green, aqua, blue and violet. Using the backlight is simple too! Just press the key with the light bulb symbol to select the desired intensity, or hold the key down and use the arrow keys to change between colors.


The Form


If looks are important to you, check out the pictures above to see what each product looks like. The Logitech Ultra-Thin Keyboard Cover is available in either black or white with an aluminum bottom. The portion that is black or white is the area where the keys reside (keys are color matched), while the bottom of the keyboard cover is aluminum to match your iPad. Caveat emptor, the bottom picks up scratches pretty easily. After a pretty short time I already have visible signs of wear on the four corners of the keyboard cover. the ZAGGkeys PROplus is an all aluminum affair with black keys and a grey plastic lip around the edge of the device. To be fair, it is showing just about as much wear as Logitech’s keyboard cover. If you’re a road warrior who uses his or her iPad extensively in your travels, or a homemaker who relies on it for calendaring, email and managing life “on the go,” you’re going to have a well worn keyboard cover in fairly short order. While that won’t affect the functionality of either device, I thought I’d give you a “heads up” in case you’re the fussy type.


The Covers Covered


In the end, there was no clear winner for me. Ideally, what I’d like is something along the lovechild of the two. While ZAGG’s offering has more of the features I want with its backlight and better key spacing, its dock is a slippery affair, bested by the grippy, magnetically fortified dock of Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I know, I know, you want a summation which points you in the direction of one clear winner so you can go out and make that purchase so I’ll leave you with this: got big hands? Are you a hardcore typist? Go ZAGG. Smaller or petite fingers? You do a lot of typing but not necessarily on flat surfaces and your time is split between the iPad and your full-sized laptop? Logitech is the one for you.

Full disclosure: Logitech and ZAGG provided me with demo units for the purpose of reviewing them.

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