By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 1:00 am
What do an iPad 2 and an IBM ThinkPad from 1995 have in common? Not a whole lot–unless the iPad is equipped with Logitech’s new Fold-Up Keyboard and the ThinkPad is the famous 701 “Butterfly” model. Like the Butterfly ThinkPad, Logitech’s new gadget, which snaps onto the bottom of the iPad, packs a keyboard that’s wider than the case. As you lift up the iPad, the keyboard swivels out in two pieces–as shown in the first image above–and then pieces together. It’s also reminiscent of the Stowaway folding keyboard, a gadget which would be a wonderful iPhone accessory but which appears to no longer be available.
I haven’t used Logitech’s keyboard, but the company showed it to me recently, and it looks pretty darn clever. It’s a Bluetooth model, so it needs to be charged occasionally over USB but it wireless. It makes the iPad substantially thicker, but is by far the roomiest portable keyboard you’ll find for Apple’s gadget. It adds protection to the tablet’s underside, and you can install it and continue to use Apple’s own Smart Cover simultaneously. It’s $129.95–pricey, but worth considering if you want to use an iPad like a laptop–and will be available in September.
There are now a bunch of iPad 2 keyboard/case combos, and it doesn’t make sense to declare one as the right choice for everybody. They all make different tradeoffs when it comes to bulk, keyboard feel and size, and the viewing angle of the screen. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg reviewed four of them, including the new Logitech, in his column last week. Of the ones I’ve seen in person, I also like Zagg’s $99.99 ZaggFolio, a case with a removable keyboard of impressively notebook-like feel and a clever design which lets you angle the iPad into a notch on the keyboard, either in the case or out of it. The ZaggFolio I bought, like other early units, has a design defect which prevents the clasp from working properly; Zagg says that it’s fixed this issue and will replace the ZaggFolios that have it.