I needed a new iPad keyboard. I recently gave my beloved ZAGG keyboard to my daughter to use with her Galaxy tablet–she is making a total break from her laptop to a tablet. Interesting experiment which I can’t imagine doing without having a keyboard — hence the gift.

I purchased a new ZAGGKeys PROplus keyboard, but then immediately saw an article on LifeHacker that showed an overwhelming preference among users for the Logitech Ultrathin. Since my ZAGG was still just a day old, I ordered the Logitech to do a little in-house comparison test — and as long as I’m doing that, I might as well write it up in a blog post, right?

A word about pricing: I got the ZAGGKeys PROplus for about $130 directly from ZAGG, and I got the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover from Amazon for about $90. But when investing in a quality gadget, I don’t see a mere $40 being a big differentiator. (Note: the ZAGG PRO (as opposed to PROplus) is minus the backlit keys feature and is $100.)

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

The Overview: This is a very light keyboard and very thin — one might even say ultra thin — making it an easy decision for me to toss this in my bag just in case I’ll need it. It is made of shiny black plastic with an aluminum backing. It comes with a charging cable and even a cleaning cloth to keep it nice and shiny. The Bluetooth pairing was effortless.

The Keys: The keys have decent travel and tactile feedback, although they are just very slightly “flimsy” and have the tiniest bit of wiggle. This keyboard was obviously designed from the perspective of a Mac user: It has a delete key that acts like a PC backspace key (just like a Mac), and the Ctrl, Shft, Option/Alt, Cmd keys are Mac-centric (for example, on a PC I’d use Ctrl-C to copy, but on this keyboard, as with a Mac, I use Cmd-C). This keyboard includes the expected four arrow keys.

The total depth of the 5 rows of keys is 3.25″. The back row of keys combines the number/punctuation keys with the function keys. The function keys provide these special features:

  • Home
  • Search
  • Language
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Select up and Select down
  • Cut, copy, and paste
  • Pause/Play music
  • Mute and  volume control
  • Lock

(See the table at the end of this post for a comparison of special features between these two keyboards.)

The Cover: I would rarely if ever use this as an iPad cover, but let me say a few words about that. They don’t call this product the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard — it’s a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. This keyboard is magnetized so when used as a cover it will enable the auto-on and auto-off functionality on the iPad. It has a hinge that is similar in shape and style to the thin hinge on the Apple-brand flexible iPad covers, designed to magnetically hang on to the bevel of the iPad. However the hinge and the overall keyboard seem to not be adequately magnetized. In under 5 minutes of carrying this around on my iPad like a cover, it very easily slipped off. It definitely would fall off the iPad if I tossed it in a bag. Again I would rarely or never use it as an iPad cover anyway, so this doesn’t fit into my decision, but if you’re looking for a cover to protect your iPad, this isn’t it.

The Specs:

  • Dimensions: 7.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Thickness: 0.4 inch
  • Weight: 11.7 ounces
  • Available in black or white

*Note: The Amazon product page for the Logitech Ultrathin keyboard reports the thickness of this keyboard as 0.9 inch. Nope — it’s much thinner than that! It’s actually just 0.9 cm, which is about 0.4 inch.

The Lowdown: If you’re looking for a keyboard to double as a cover, this is not the keyboard for you. But if thin and light are what you are looking for, then this is a wonderful keyboard — and face it, the people at Logitech know their stuff. Logitech is the brand I trust for quite a lot of my stuff. I’d be a little concerned about the not-terribly-robust-feeling keys for power users, but if you just want it for occasional use (which I think is the typical use for these keyboards), then this is a great little keyboard. It’s a nice little keyboard, but not a great keyboard cover.

ZAGGKeys PROplus

The Overview: When I first got this keyboard, I was immediately disappointed by its weight. It’s made entirely of the brushed aluminum that all iPad users recognize. Another feature that doubtless adds to the weight is that the keys are backlit, which you can turn off or toggle through various colors. This is a feature you’ll rarely need, but when you are in a darkening room you’ll be glad to have it. (The backlight feature is one of the reasons I was originally interested in this keyboard.) As with the Logitech Ultrathin, the Bluetooth pairing was effortless.

The Keys: The keys have the same amount of travel as the Logitech Ultrathin but with a slightly snappier tactile feedback and an overall more solid feel. However, with this keyboard I’m noticing a high number of double-keystroke typos which were completely absent when I was using the Logitech. A quick consultation with Google and I see that others have had this same problem and a reboot-solution was offered: Problem solved (so far). Anyway, the keys and the overall construction of the keyboard seems to be of a more robust and higher quality than those on the Logitech. Like the Logitech, it has the delete but no backspace key, and it has the same preference for Mac-like combo keys. Oh well, us PC users must be in a minority in the iPad world!

This keyboard has 6 rows of keys. Where the Logitech keyboard combines the function with the number keys, the ZAGG adds them as a separate row. While this could be another feature that adds to the weight, this is nice when controlling your music and volume because you just hit a single key instead of combining it with the Function key.

The total depth of the first 5 rows (so we are comparing apples to apples instead of goats to rocks), is just under 3.5″ — so this has just a little more spread than the Logitech, but I can’t see that it would make much of a difference. This keyboard also includes the expected four arrow keys. In addition to the row of dedicated function keys there are additional keys to turn on and toggle the colors of the backlight, to toggle between your languages, and to tell you the status of your battery. The function keys provide these special features:

  • Home
  • Search
  • Photo slideshow
  • Virtual keyboard
  • Cut, copy, and paste
  • Pause/Play music
  • Next/Previous track in the playlist
  • Mute and volume control
  • Lock

(See the table at the end of this post for a comparison of special features between these two keyboards.)

The Cover: Even though this keyboard is also designed to double as an iPad cover, I’ll rarely if ever use it for this. However for those who are interested in this keyboard’s cover features, this is definitely the winner, although this adds another reason for the extra weight: this aluminum beauty has a not-very-deep bezel that your iPad can snuggle its glass into. It has the magnetism necessary to engage the iPad’s auto on/off feature as well. It is very easy to open up (unlike the original ZAGG iPad case!). I don’t see how this cover could ever accidentally come off, and the aluminum construction and the bevel offer far better protection for the iPad than the Logitech Ultrathin would.

A Note: While I was measuring the keyboards, I scratched up the back of the ZAGG. Seemed a bit easy to accidentally do!

The Specs:

  • Dimensions: 7.4 x 9.5 inches*
  • Thickness: 0.43 inch*
  • Weight: 14.6 ounces

*Note: The ZAGG product page says that this keyboard is only 0.24 inches thick. My calipers say otherwise! Perhaps they were saying that it adds only 0.24″ thickness to your iPad when used as a cover?

The Lowdown

Once I actually put these two keyboards on the scale and got out my calipers to get a true measurement of the thickness, I felt a little better about the ZAGGKeys PROplus: it weighs just a smidge under 3 ounces more than the Logitech Ultrathin. Between the sturdier construction, the backlit keys, the dedicated function keys, and the next/previous track keys for playing music, this is the keyboard I’m going to keep.

Summary: Comparing the Keyboards

First the measurements:

Comparing the measurements of the two keyboards

And now the special features:

[EDIT: Note that you cannot use either of these keyboards on a plane because they use Bluetooth. Here’s an article that covers non-bluetooth keyboards… not much to choose from!]

The moral of the story

I love how light and thin the Logitech Ultrathin is — but I’m going to keep the ZAGGKeys PROplus. The next/previous track keys are very nice to have, I’ve already had several occasions with my previous keyboard when I’ve wished I had backlit keys, and frankly the keys on this ZAGG just feel sturdier to me. The Logitech Ultrathin is a very nice keyboard which I really think will be fine for some people (Logitech is one of those brands I love), but in this case, the ZAGG seems like a higher-quality, tougher product that can withstand living and working with a power user.

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4 Responses to Comparing Two iPad Keyboards: ZAGG and Logitech

  1. Cliff Scridloe says:

    Great comparison! Any word on whether either or both use the same lightning port as the Ipad for charging, or whether it is necessary to take a 2nd charger on travels for the keyboard?

  2. Kathleen says:

    They both have a mini-USB — you can plug into the same plug hat you use for your iPad/iPhone. But note that the batteries in these keyboards last for ages… charge your keyboard before your trip and no need to bring a charger.

  3. Dadster says:

    I wish some one comes out with how the various keys could be made use of . For example what’s the function of ” command ” ( cmd ) and “option” on the logitech ultra thin key board cover ? Is there any way that HTML facilities such as adjustment of font size, underlining of text, changing text color , italicizing etc, using Logitech key board ? Info dadster at gmail dot com , please , if you have any suggestions .

  4. admin says:

    The cmd and option keys are there for the benefit of Mac users — these are standard keys on Mac keyboards. These keys are extremely common on third-party keyboards for the iPad, at least they are on all the keyboards I looked at. Use the “option” key as you would use the “alt” key on a keyboard for a Windows system, and use the “cmd” (command) key as you would use the “ctrl” (control) key in Windows. The way you do things like adjust text size, underline, etc, depends on the software you are using. For example, in many applications, Ctrl-U will underline text. Since you can use the “cmd” key as you would use the Ctrl key, on the Logitech keyboard, that would be cmd-U. In many applications in Windows, Ctrl+ zooms in on your active window, so on this keyboard (and for any Mac user), that would be Cmd+ (IF that feature is supported by the software you are using).

    So — for each application you use (including web browsers), go to Google and search for “keyboard shortcuts ipad ” — then any time the list mentions the alt key, substitute that with option, and same with cmd and ctrl. That said, assuming you are using this keyboard with an iPad, the iPad apps often do not have the same level of functionality as their “real computer” counterparts, and on some older forums I’ve seen some folks complaining about there not being good support for shortcuts. So your mileage may vary. :)

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