No one needs to tell me. I fully understand the absurdity of using a keyboard with an iPad mini. That said, I have been rocking the Logitech Ultra-thin Keyboard Mini for several months... and loving it. But I fully realize that I am well outside the norm.
A sane person would tell me that the iPad was never intended to be used as something for long-form writing. To that, I say yes, and no. When Apple first introduced the iPad, they premiered iWork for iPad along with it. They also presented a very forgettable accessory: the iPad keyboard. It was one of the few pieces of Apple gear I never bothered to purchase. It was severely flawed. But Apple was absolutely acknowledging that the iPad was a productivity workhorse with the right accessory keyboard.
Surprisingly, it took determined and inventive third-partys to get the iPad keyboard right. I believe that Logitech deserves a lot of credit for making iPads truly productive machines. Still, we are talking about full-sized iPads that provided a larger landscape for a comfortable, typing experience. When the mini came out, there was a lot of speculation about whether anyone would be crazy enough to make a keyboard for it.
As it happens, we needn't have ever worried. When it comes to crazy, the world suffers no shortage. There were many, bad iPad mini keyboards going straight from the factories, to the land-fills, with only brief stops in the retail channel. These keyboards, for the most part, were truly the worst of the bad old days of the netbook era. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Once again, it was Logitech to the rescue with a unique take on the keyboard layout, and rational compromises that made the iPad mini keyboard a rather decent experience, provided one was willing to put in a little time for the learning curve. I used mine frequently.
The use case, at least for me, was that I was often out and about on one personal errand or another. I never knew when a story would break that needed immediate attention. I could bring my laptop with me all the time on the chance that I might actually need it. Or, I could just bring my iPad mini with keyboard, and if something came up, I would still be able to write and post the story, without having to carry around such a large machine.
It is not about replacing a notebook. It is about having something with you when you are not sure you need it. If you are certain you need to do a lot of writing while you are out, bring a notebook. If you are uncertain, but don't want to be caught with nothing if the need arises, the iPad mini with keyboard is an excellent compromise.
That said, most will still think me bonkers. Fine! I'm bonkers. But for all the crazy ones, there is a new keyboard in town, and it has dethroned Logitech: the king of keyboards. It is the Zaggkeys, Cover for the iPad mini. Technically, there are two new keyboards. The other is the Zaggkeys Folio for the iPad mini, which I am not reviewing at this time. My personal preference is for the cover-style rather than the case-style. But that's just me. Beyond that preference, there is almost no difference in functionality between the two devices. You can't go wrong either way.
At this point, almost all reviewers will go into lengthy, detailed, and completely unnecessary descriptions of the keyboard, replete with a partial essay on the charging port and bluetooth pairing. Not me. None of that matters in the slightest. Trust me, you will figure out how to set it up and keep it charged. What you really need to know is what the typing experience is like.
Hands down, it is the best, mini typing experience money can buy. Whatever mini keyboard you might be using, this one's better, by miles. My typing is close enough to full-speed on this keyboard, the difference is hardly worth noting. Then again, I am an experienced, mini keyboard typist. Honestly, though, I don't think that gives me that great an advantage.
There is one, unique feature that really puts this keyboard over the top. Because of a clever, hinge system, the iPad mini becomes a full-on, touchscreen netbook. The iPad sits, snuggly in a hinged slot. When opened, it stays in the slot, and in the position you leave it. In practice, it functions identically to a notebook computer. Though a breeze to do so, the keyboard needn't ever be removed.
Common to all mini keyboards is the difference in layout. Some keys have to be truncated, moved, or eliminated altogether. The function key at the bottom-left of the keyboard is usually required to force other keys to serve double-duty. An example of this is the unfortunate demise of the "=" key. For this keyboard, it didn't make the cut. Obviously, you can still produce the "=" and "+", but it requires a few finger gymnastics to get it done. Such a compromise would be completely unacceptable for a programmer. Then again, no one would attempt to write code on an iPad of any kind.
There is also the sad fact that some keys have to be chopped in half to make room for others. The ";" and "'" fall in this category. When it comes to using mini keyboards, I find this compromise to be the most annoying. Understandable, but annoying. As a writer, I need easy access to all punctuations. Yet even with the annoyance, I still manage to put out several hundred words at a time before needing a break. Consider it a part of the learning curve.
Speaking of the learning curve, you might be surprised at just how short it really is. There is not all that much to get used to. I am 6' even, and about 208lbs. Once my index fingers are on the home keys, I am off to the races. I do not get a sense of being cramped. Your milage may vary, but probably not by much. The keyboard has backlighting if you happen to be typing in a dark room. You can control the light's brightness, as well as pick from several colors. It is a really nice touch. Expect about three months of battery life from each charge.
For me, the worst thing about this keyboard is the action of the keys. I feel like I have to press them a bit more precisely than I did the Logitech. While writing this review, I made a few more errors due to a letter not registering that I thought for sure I hit. It is not horrible, but it is something that I have to think about, at least, for now. Keyboards are very personal things. I got used to the Logitech, and now, I have to get used to something else. The occasional stumble still does not keep this keyboard from being head and shoulders above everything else on the market.
In case I have not been perfectly clear, this keyboard is a must buy.