Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio for iPad Review: a truly fantastic tablet companion

There is something special about being able to transform an object into something else without staining its original appeal.

Many case manufacturers have attempted to turn the iPad into a fully-fledged laptop, but few aside from Logitech have really put forth more than a modicum of effort to think how best it would work. We’ve already looked at the excellent Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad, but the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio falls into a category of its own. It’s that good.

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That’s because the keyboard itself is built into the case, so there is nothing to attach and no separation between objects; the keyboard is the case and vice versa. The keys are soft and mushy, but feel extremely responsive. The care taken to ensure the iPad is lofted and aligned at just the right angle is reassuring. And the quality of all the materials — from the soft rubber extrusion along the iPad’s perimeter which protects the screen from impact and dust, to the soft pleather exterior which feels great in the hands — is top-notch.

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When closed, the keyboard cover resembles any other case, albeit one slightly thicker and heavier than the average. Logitech has taken care to ensure that the cover is a case first, and because the keyboard is thinner than average, the whole thing works out to be more compact than the average laptop.

logitechipadcase-5One must decide whether the iPad, with its limited multitasking abilities, is really up to the task of being a laptop replacement. Certainly, iOS 7 promises some expansion of usability in this area, with background updates and an improved multitasking menu, but iOS was never designed to be a power user’s palette.

Instead, the iPad is a fullscreen Mecca for writers, bloggers or mind mappers, those looking for an empty canvas on which to lay down some verse. So many apps, from iA Writer to Byword to OneNote, offer truly excellent feature sets that rival any desktop app in features, and surpass them all in design.
logitechipadcase-4All the traditional iPad controls, such as volume and mute, are accessible using the FabricSkin, and it’s easily charged with an included microUSB cord.  The keyboard is liquid repellant (though not entirely waterproof) so minor spills shouldn’t affect functionality.

The battery promises to last three months, though I haven’t been able to test that theory — it’s still going after two. There is a small LED light above the Delete key on the top right of the keyboard that denotes Bluetooth connectivity, charge status and any other messages the keyboard wishes to convey. One can change the volume, return to the home screen and move around the screen using the function keys on the top row of the keyboard, but users will still have to use the touchscreen for the majority of interaction.
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It’s truly about the small details here. There is a magnetic latch that, when extended, “locks” the iPad into place. The only issue with this is that there is no room for maneuvering the iPad to another angle, and the screen somewhat crowds the top row of keys.

But those keys are something else: all the requisite iPad controls are present, and that Logitech was able to create not just a working keyboard but a superlatively performing one from a design like this is astounding.

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The Logitech FabricSkin Keyboard Folio is available for $149.99 from Logitech directly or major retailers, and is available in black (pictured), blue, red and yellow.

Highly Recommended.

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