I love my iPad Pro 12.9″, but it is so large, I really have a hard time mentally juggling it without adding a case to get more bulk. It’s just so thin! One of the first companies to step forward with a case designed for this new form factor was Logitech, with their Create keyboard case. They sent one to the Gadgeteer for review, and it’s been passed around to a few of us now. Let me give you an overview, then we can get into the user experiences we’ve had.
Note: Photos may be tapped or clicked for a larger image.
The case itself is only two layers, with a solid back which contains the keyboard and a hinged front with two very tight, narrow tabs to hold the iPad to the top portion of the lid.
The exterior is a pebble-finished fabric attached to a solid rubber or plastic core. It feels like ballistic nylon, but is solid, rather than loose fabric. Inside there is a soft-touch liner, and the keyboard surround is aluminum. The top of the lid opposite the keyboard has two very thin plastic pieces just under an inch long that you slide the iPad under – it’s a very, very tight fit. (See photo above)
There is a camera opening, as well as openings for the speakers top and bottom (or left and right – I always mentally orient the iPad with the home button as the bottom, like an iPhone) along the attached side. A covered play-through button allows turning the unit on and off. Volume buttons are accessed through a flexible marked area on the edge, and there are holes to allow sound to get to every mic.
The hinge area on the front cover is just above the lightning connector, so you can easily attach a charging cable or your Apple Pencil, but few other lightning accessories are going to work. On the top left, the AUX port is uncovered, for those still using that ancient standard. ?
Once it’s in place, the left edge is free to swing into the hinge between the sides, or outward, into the magnetic cradle at the top of the keyboard. There, a Smart Connector in the iPad mates with the Create and powers on the keyboard. No pairing, no on/off switch, just get the two pieces close and – click – you’re typing. The connection is magnetic as well, so you can actually carry the keyboard by grasping the top of the iPad Pro and lifting it up. And, unlike many cases on the market, (cough cough Apple cough) nothing that touches the table is going to touch the screen while it’s set up for typing.
The Smart Connector not only gives you access to the keyboard, but you get the added bonus of it being a backlit keyboard. I find this to be one of the neatest benefits of this unit. (I’ve been a fan of backlit keyboards since I first got one on the PowerBook G4 15″ in 2004. Not having my keyboard glow in the dark makes me feel like an animal.) The smart connector powers the unit through the iPad’s battery, so there is no need for any other connector or Bluetooth pairing – it just works™.
Logitech’s understanding of the Mac and iPad operating systems are deep. They have been in this market and know that being able to type is not the only thing you want from your keyboard. You want to control sound, brightness, and the brightness of your keyboard backlighting. You also need to do things on an iPad that you don’t have to do from the keyboard on a Mac: quickly lock the unit, enter the ever-needed password, search, or even launch another app. There are function keys for these that roughly match the similar keys on your Mac or on Apple keyboards, or that can do what a Mac can do from the trackpad (like show the home screen).
At the center of the edge where the iPad connects, there is a 1.9″ long by 0.015″ rubber gasket that offsets the keyboard side from the face of the iPad. This will protect your screen, unless you’re treating this unit like an old warhorse laptop, stacking it into a bag with tight fit and having it be the base for 5 heavy textbooks you’re carrying around. It’s still a pencil-thin iPad, not a 2-inch thick battle-hardened Gaming Laptop. I’ve been using it without removing the case for 2-3 weeks, and can’t see any scratches, warping, or marks on the screen. I switched back to writing on it yesterday after spending a day or so editing only on my MacBook Pro, and had a few times where I tried to move the editing point with the (non-existent) trackpad. And when I was moving to another location, I found myself almost trying to shut the lid by bringing the top of the screen down without first releasing the Smart Connector and swinging that left/bottom edge back into the hinge. I can see someone not used to using iPads try to do this and warping their iPad. (The complaints I’ve read in other reviews about screen scratches or breakage are likely the results of not treating it like an iPad. This case protects a little better than a bare unit, but it’s still a huge slab of glass, overall. It’s not rigid, just like the iPhone you’ve cracked while wearing in your jeans pocket and blamed on poor manufacturing. It’s a very, very thin device, mostly glass, with enough very thin metal added to keep it from cracking when you look at it hard. OK, rant is over, moving on…)
My biggest complaint with this case is that it’s heavy – really heavy! One pound, 10 oz. heavy. That makes the combination Create/iPad 3 pounds three ounces. Over half of that is the case. Compare that to the 2 pounds 11 ounces my usual MoKo case and iPad (1 pound 2 oz for just the case), and you have to really want that keyboard. Using a separate keyboard only adds 12 ounces (3 pounds 7 ounces total), but you only have to bring that external into play when you’re needing the faster typing and clickety keyboard feel of an actual keyboard. When you lock your iPad Pro into a heavy case, there’s no option.
Getting the Create off your iPad Pro is a whole ‘nother thing – it took a full two minutes and two broken fingernails the first time I tried to remove it. Don’t think I’ll be putting it back on without really needing the keyboard function all the time – which, on the Pro, you really don’t. The onscreen keyboard is pretty much the same size as the Create, plus, you get the added benefit of it being a software keyboard, which can transform according to the program you’re working in – always a benefit to my way of thinking.