If you're looking for a portable keyboard for your Apple iPad, there are plenty of options on tap: hard plastic boards, roll-up silicone slices, and quite a few sets of keys integrated directly into a case. Logitech's $99 Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is none of those, though: it's a magnetic sheet that clips right onto the side of a second- or third-generation iPad, just like Apple's Smart Cover, and it looks positively fantastic. When it's closed, the curved, blasted aluminum base (which covers the iPad's screen) is a perfect match for the iPad's back, and it looks like a single, unified piece of hardware when it's held closed.
More impressively, the flat, textured chiclet keys themselves feel good, not quite as shallow or cramped as you'd expect, though you do have to hold down the Fn key to get to common shortcuts. It's a bit like the company's Zagg Keyboard Case, except with the protective siding flattened out. Like the Zagg, though, there's only one angle the iPad can sit at, with no adjustments, although our thicker third-generation iPad does fit in both portrait and landscape modes.
Like the Smart Cover, there's a magnet that wakes the iPad when you open the cover, and the keyboard itself connects wirelessly over Bluetooth: detach the iPad, slide it into the slot (which has a magnetic fastener of its own), flip on the three-position switch, and you're ready to go. The keyboard charges over Micro USB, and Logitech says that if you use it two hours a day, it'll get an impressive six months of battery life on a charge.
So if it's elegant, decently comfortable and rather long-lasting, are there any downsides to the device? Yes, an important one: it feels like such a part of the iPad that you might carry it as if the keyboard is permanently attached, and Logitech's magnets aren't quite strong enough for that. With a slight twist or push of a careless thumb, we were easily able to dislodge the keyboard from the case when carrying it around in one hand. If you're clumsy, you might want something a little more protective for your multiple-hundred-dollar tablet... but if not, Logitech's new keyboard should be on your short list when considering an iPad keyboard. Logitech tells us it will go on sale next week.