A while back, I did a side-by-side review of the in-app dictation software in the more recent iOS versions and the free Dragon dictation app. The in-app software won (sad though I am to admit it, as I do love Dragon)–not just for convenience of integration, but also for accuracy.
I have never pretended to love the onscreen virtual keyboards, and so for some time now, I have been using the in-app dictation for quick emails and messages on my phone, and only using the virtual keyboard just for quick corrections. I missed this on my trusty iPad 2 (which doesn’t support this feature) and so in recent weeks, I began contemplating the prospect of upgrading to the new iPad mini. A quick crowdsource on Facebook revealed strongly positive comments on the mini, and so I took the plunge.
The logitech ultrathin was an impulse purchase in that I didn’t set out to purchase it with the mini–and indeed, knew nothing about it. But of course, times being what they are (i.e. connected), upon seeing it at the store, I looked up reviews. Strongly positive–and so, I purchased that, instead of the smartcover I’d intended to buy.
And. I. Love. It. LOVE. It.
Ah, the difference good design makes (even the packaging adds its own unique spin to the minimalist, Apple-style approach).
It has the same footprint as the mini itself. The bluetooth pairs easily and with no fuss. There are some compromises–a slightly more cramped layout, a very narrow apostrophe and quote key, many options mapped onto other keys via a “function” key–but given the lightweight, compact format, those compromises are relatively minor.
The Logitech ultrathin takes the mini from being a lovely tablet, to being a fully-functional, indispensable portable device. It’s beautifully matched to the mini, so the pair look decidedly chic together. The keys are well enough spaced that I made far fewer errors than I would have expected given the size, from the get-go. After a little bit of use (a few blog posts later), my accuracy was way up and I was swooning with delight. The keys also have a good weight and feel to them, while the entire unit is light but doesn’t feel cheap. The battery is said to last about three months with ~2 hours of use per day–a claim that I will be unlikely to test, knowing my usage patterns.
The other thing that I love about the keyboard is that it allows you to prop the iPad both in landscape and portrait orientation.
I’ve often wanted to read my iPad 2 in portrait mode while keeping my hands free, but I never felt altogether comfortable with its stability when using the Smart Cover to prop it up that way. This has often been my hesitation in purchasing other iPad stands–that they are either or, and many only provide the option for propping the tablet in landscape. In all honesty, I don’t know if the Logitech ultrathin was designed for portrait mode–but it supports it well enough. I wouldn’t test it in a precarious spot, but for the usual, put-it-on-a-table-to-read type uses, it’s fantastic.
The stand is also slightly magnetized, which means that there’s an added stability when you place the tablet into the groove. But of course, though you’ve essentially got a mini laptop with this pair, you also retain all the advantages of a tablet, including being able to take the mini out and read off of it in any comfortable position you’d like. The Ultrathin is always there as an enhancement when you want it, providing an easy stand and fantastic keyboard when you want to make a quick note while reading or shoot off an email.
The two caveats (and they are minor) is that 1) you’ll likely want a carrying case or a pair of skins for this divine pair because they both have matching, easily scratchable finishes and 2) while the spine is magnetized like the Smart Cover, and while the Ultrathin also turns off the iPad screen when you close it, there isn’t any kind of magnet that holds the combo shut. So, it’s possible that it could flop open. I use a decorative, lightly elasticized band to secure it, but since I also have a carrying case, the prospect of it flopping open is not a big concern for me.
Ultimately, I absolutely love this accessory and feel a thrill of delight at any prospect that arises when I can use my mini, because the Ultrathin makes it into such an amazingly powerful, fun and utterly portable device. Anything from library research to coffeehouse blog posts are easy with this match made in heaven. If you’re buying a mini and anticipate doing anything more than a modest amount of typing, do yourself a favour and pick one of these bad boys up. The irony, of course, is that I bought the mini so I could dictate and wouldn’t have to use the virtual keyboard–and now, thanks to the Ultrathin, I’ve hardly used the dictation function at all!
Bottom line: The promo says, “Introducing the other half of your iPad mini”. That pretty much sums it up.