I’m a keyboard junkie. I’ve purchased one of just about every time of keyboard out there for my iPads, from ClamCase (which I do love…) to the Zagg Slim Folio (which I love, but breaks too easily) to the only two keyboards that connect to the iPad Pro smart connector, the Create keyboard from Logitech, and the Apple Smart Keyboard cover. I tried out both keyboards with my 12.9 inch and 10 inch pro tablets.
First let me say that I wish at least one of these was a clamshell style case. Why? So I can use the keyboard in my lap. I do a lot of writing in bed, on the couch, on public transit. My lap is my second desk. Unfortunately, neither one is. For that you have to turn to Brydge, ClamCase or Zagg – but none of them have smart connectors, and I’ve found that I can frequently out type my Bluetooth connection. Which is why I gave these two keyboards a shot.
The good news on both is that typing is essentially lag free. Even at my fastest, the keyboards accurately captured all my typing, outperforming all the Bluetooth keyboards I’ve used over the years.
The Apple Smart Keyboard
Apple’s product is basically a Smart Cover with an embedded keyboard. If you’ve used the keyboard on the MacBook, it feels pretty similar, with minimal throw. Plenty of other people have written about the pros and cons of the keys, so I won’t cover that ground again, but once you get used to it, the keyboard performs well. As long as the keyboard is resting on a solid surface like your desk. While it is possible to use the keyboard in your lap, the origami-like design of the cover makes balancing the tablet on your legs a challenge. The main plus with the Apple keyboard is that compared to the Logitech keyboard, it is MUCH lighter and lower profile. So if you value portability over lap friendliness, especially for the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, the Apple keyboard case is the better choice.
PROS: Light, slim design, easy to remove.
CONS: No key illumination, can’t really use it well in your lap.
Logitech Create Keyboard Case
Logitech’s keyboard case really only shares one quality with the Apple keyboard – the smart connector. All the other design choices are different. The most significant one is the way the cover bends in over the keyboard, providing pretty solid base to connect the tablet to. It’s so solid, in fact, that laptop typing is nearly as good as using a true laptop. You’re stuck with only one angle (which is also true of the Apple keyboard) but it is very usable. The keys themselves are more like Logitech’s slim Bluetooth keyboards, with more throw than the Apple keys, but also more noise. I found the keys much more comfortable to type with, overall. It’s a different experience than with Apple’s case, but I’d have a hard time saying it was better or worse. Just different. What is better, however, is the backlighting of the keys. If you type in the dark and sometimes forget where to find the ^ key, you’ll love the illuminated keyboard. (I sure do!) I also found the palm rest to be quite comfortable.
PROS: Keyboard illumination, stable on your lap, nice palm rest, more traditional keyboard feel
CONS: Heavy and bulky, especially the Create for the 12.9 inch, difficult to remove tablet from the case.
Neither case is perfect, and each caters to a different use. If you prize portability, the Apple Smart Keyboard Cover wins hands down. Typing in the dark or in your lap, or hate Apple’s recent keyboard designs, the Create is for you. Both are great keyboards, but you’ll use them very differently. Since my 12.9 isn’t the most mobile device anyway, I’ve ended up using the Logitech keyboard with it the most and am very happy with it. For my 10 inch tablet, it goes with me everywhere and I’ve stuck with the Apple cover. Not great in the lap, but it pops right off when I just want a tablet and it adds minimal bulk and weight to my bag.