Yesterday I got my hands on the newest iPad 7 keyboard case offering: the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case with Trackpad. This $149.95 case features a built-in trackpad to take advantage of the new cursor control in iPadOS 13.4.
If you own a 7th-generation iPad (review), this is one of the most useful accessories you can purchase outside of the Apple Pencil. Logitech also sells a version of its new keyboard case for the iPad Air 3. Be sure to subscribe to 9to5mac on YouTube, and watch our full hands-on review inside for the details.
- Built in multi-touch trackpad
- Backlit keys
- Full row of iPadOS shortcut keys
- Built in multi-angle kick stand with 50-degree tilt
- Four usage modes optimized for typing, viewing, reading, and sketching
- Apple Pencil (1st-gen) / Logitech Crayon holder
- Smart Connector for power and connectivity
- Protective case covers front, rear, and sides of iPad
- Also available for iPad Air 3
- $149.95 price
Unboxing and setup
Inside the box you’ll find the two parts that make up the keyboard case: a protective cover, and the keyboard portion that attaches magnetically to the bottom of the iPad.
Video review: Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case
Installing the Logitech Keyboard Case on the iPad 7 is as simple as lining up the tablet properly with the rear protective cover, and pressing down so that the edges that wrap around the iPad lock it into place.
From there, it’s just a matter of attaching the keyboard to the Smart Connector portion of the iPad. What you’ll end up with is a keyboard case that completely encloses and protects the iPad inside.
Logitech includes a multi-angle kickstand built in to the rear protective cover. The kickstand, which includes resistance, can be adjusted up to a maximum of 50-degrees to help achieve optimal viewing angles.
The kickstand works great for table-top operation, and also can do a fairly decent job of allowing you to lap type. The low viewing angles needed for a comfortable typing position may result in a less-than-optimal lap typing experience, but with some adjustments to my sitting position I was able to pull it off fairly well.
Obviously you’re not going to have as good of a lap typing experience as you would with a traditional laptop like the MacBook Air, but by finessing the adjustable stand one can make it work.
Smart connector support is great
One of the best features of the Combo Touch is its inclusion of contacts in order to take advantage of one of the iPad 7’s new Smart Connector functionality. Smart Connector support on the iPad 7 allows users to instantly power and pair peripherals like Apple’s Smart Keyboard, and Logitech’s Combo Touch Keyboard Case.
The presence of the Smart Connector means that you’ll never have to worry about flaky Bluetooth pairing or batteries inside the keyboard running out of juice. The keyboard is powered directly by the iPad 7 itself, which greatly simplifies the process of using an external keyboard.
Logitech designed the Combo Touch Keyboard Case in a way that allows users to take advantage of four different usage modes. There’s the standard mode for typing, one for viewing, a reading mode, and a sketching mode. This is another way of saying that the keyboard cases folds and adjusts in different ways to help facilitate the current task at hand.
Another nice feature is the built-in Apple Pencil/Logitech Crayon holder. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve misplaced my Apple Pencil over the years, so I appreciate being able to store it directly in the keyboard case.
Protection comes at a cost
Logitech’s Combo Touch not only protects the front and sides of your iPad, but it protects the rear as well. In fact, the entire iPad is fully protected, corner to corner, when the case is closed.
Of course, such protection comes at the cost of a slim and trim package. The iPad 7 is a fairly thin device on its own, but when adding the Logitech Combo Touch, it transforms into a relatively hefty package that’s much thicker than the same iPad when mated with Apple’s Smart Keyboard.
The case also adds a significant amount of weight to the package, weighing in at more than the iPad itself at 1.43 pounds. Coupled with the 1.07 pound iPad 7, it’s a total weight of 2.5 pounds. To put that weight into perspective, the 2020 MacBook Air weighs 2.8 pounds.
For those that love the idea off having a Smart Connector-power keyboard and trackpad, but can’t get past the bulk, it’s possible to use just the keyboard portion of the package without the rear protective case.
The downside of such a choice is that you’ll need to use something to prop up the iPad since you lose the adjustable kickstand. In the example in the video, I used the Slope from WipLabs, which is an all-around excellent iPad stand.
I think I could get away with using the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard sans case when just using it around the house, but I’d probably want both the protection and the adjustable kickstand provided by the rear cover when out and about.
The key feature that separates the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case from other iPad 7 keyboard cases is its inclusion of a built-in trackpad with multi-touch gesture support. Having such a feature built in means that you don’t have to rely on an external Bluetooth Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse in order to use the awesome new cursor functionality in iPadOS 13.4.
The top surface of the trackpad appears to be glass, just like the trackpad you’ll find in a MacBook, but the surface area is a lot less than what you’ll find on a Mac. It can feel a bit cramped when you’re used to using a standalone or laptop Magic Trackpad.
Another big difference between this trackpad and one found on modern Apple laptops has to do with click input. Because it employs a mechanical diving board design, clicking on the surface causes the trackpad to physically move in order for the click actuation to register.
Related video: using cursor control in iPadOS 13.4
Modern-day Apple laptop trackpads are solid state in nature, so the clicking is simulated and the trackpad itself doesn’t actually move when clicked. The big advantage of solid state trackpads is that there are no dead zones, which means you can click anywhere on the surface to register a click.
With a mechanical trackpad, like the one in the Logitech Combo Touch, you’ll find dead zones near the top, because the clicking mechanism is positioned near the bottom. In effect, it makes for less usable area for clicking.
For this reason, I highly recommend enabling the Tap to Click switch found in Settings → General → Trackpad. This will allow you to simply tap on the surface to register clicks, which provides more usable surface area for clicking.
Overall I’m a big fan of having a trackpad that’s always there and ready to use. As I noted in our hands-on overview of the top trackpad features in iPadOS 13.4, having cursor support on the iPad allows for more precise control. Editing text is easier, since you no longer have to reach up and touch the screen, and navigating around the OS is easy thanks to the multi-touch trackpad gestures.
During my hands-on time, I’ve noticed a few bugs with the Logitech Combo Touch trackpad. This will hopefully be addressed via the LogitechControl companion app that helps facilitate easy firmware updates.
For example, when scrolling long pages in Safari, I notice “slippage” when using two-finger scrolling. This causes the page to abruptly stop moving, with the cursor moving instead. And when using the two-finger tap secondary click for right-clicking, occasionally the gesture will fail to register.
Both of these bugs are annoying, but neither of them happen frequently enough to make me not want to use the trackpad. Again, these are likely issues that can be addressed via a firmware update in the future.
The Logitech Combo Touch features well-spaced keys that provide enough tactile feedback and key travel to be able to comfortably type long-form content.
The keys on the keyboard are also backlit, making it easier to type in dimly-lit environments. The keyboard backlight can be controlled directly from the function row, which also features other iPadOS shortcuts keys, such as the ability to go to the Home screen, adjust volume, invoke Spotlight search, etc. In total there are four different backlight levels from which to choose from.
LogitechControl, the aforementioned companion app for facilitating firmware updates, includes keyboard backlight control settings. Via this companion app, you can change the backlighting duration from 5 seconds up to 60 seconds, and alter the speed at which the lights fade away after inactivity.
Given that you’re getting a Smart Connector-powered backlit keyboard and integrated trackpad with multi-touch gesture support, adding all of this functionality to your iPad for just $149.95 feels like pretty good deal.
The biggest downside to the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case is the bulk, which is great for protecting your iPad 7, but otherwise is a bit much. If you’re adamant about staying thin and light, you can try to use the keyboard without its case, but you lose kickstand functionality in the process.
That being said, this keyboard has whetted my appetite for Apple’s official Magic Keyboard solution for the iPad Pro. That keyboard seems to add similar functionality without much of the added bulk that we see here, but it’s also double the price, and requires a much more expensive iPad Pro to use it.
If you own an iPad 7 and you’re looking to take full advantage of trackpad support in macOS, I think the Logitech Combo Touch Keyboard Case is a solid choice. It’s a great way to turn your iPad 7 into a device that’s close to a laptop in functionality. It’s bulky when using the rear cover, but if you can get past the bulk, I think most iPad 7 owners will be quite happy it.
What do you think? Sound off down below in the comments with your thoughts and observations.
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