Retina display quibbles aside, the iPad mini is maybe the best iPad Apple have made to date and for certain tasks it has been one of our most pleasurable mobile computing experiences in a long, long time. But as with all iPads from time to time a physical keyboard would be nice (although time has shown it’s far from essential). Two peripheral heavyweights announced new iPad mini keyboard cases this week so we thought we’d do a little face off. Full disclosure – the Logitech iPad Folding keyboard case is maybe the best portable iPad keyboard we’ve ever used so going in it was Logitech’s game to lose.
Belkin FastFit Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Case
In the red corner, weighing in at just 7 mm thick, the FastFit keyboard case is thinner than the iPad mini itself. And we know you don’t weigh thickness. Unlike netbooks of yesteryear the TruType keys are well-spaced for fast, cramp-free typing. Each key has a spring mechanism that provides tactile feedback when struck.
The case is also durable, crafted from anodised aircraft-grade aluminium and is held in place with magnets (how *do* they work?). The case’s low-powered Bluetooth 3.0 connection and 200mAh battery ensure comfortable wireless typing with optimal battery life The FastFit Keyboard can last for 155 hours of active use without needing a charge. FastFit Keyboard’s “auto-wake” feature activates the iPad mini when the case is opened, and vice versa – a now standard feature that seemed almost magical when Apple introduced the Smart Cover.
The FastFit Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard Case for iPad mini has an MSRP of £59.99 and will be available in June.
Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini has the same instant On/Off function and generally has feature parity with the FastFit. Also utilising the power of integrated magnets to fasten, the slim aluminium cover is durable whilst adding very little weight to your iPad. The built-in Bluetooth EasyType keyboard, offers traditional typing plus iPad mini function shortcut keys for frequently used commands, such as copy and paste. The keyboard has a three-month battery life (based on usage of two hours per day), which works out to 180 hours over the FastFit’s 155.
The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini has a launch date of February 2013, for a suggested retail price of £69.99.
There’s obviously not much in it when two seasoned keyboard pros bring similar products to the market. Belkin have the slightly cheaper offering, but Logitech have superior battery life. The deciding factor for us was availability and the ability to get your hands on the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard mini 3 months earlier gave it the edge.