Review: Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard

I love it and hate it. I love typing on it, I love the key travel, and it makes my iPad a writing powerhouse.
For my last iPad I’d gotten a Zagg keyboard, and while it was pretty good I hated the metal rim around the keyboard and wanted something better. I found the Logitech Ultrathin, tried it out at an Apple store, and loved how it felt. Despite it’s quirks, I’m still using it now. To write this, actually.

The bad

I hate that it keeps disconnecting whenever something putting out more RF than a pencil is nearby, and that I cannot select text by holding down shift and using the arrow keys.

Logitech replaced my unit for free (they didn’t even ask for the old unit back) because of the disconnection issue, and the new unit is better than the old, but it is not without problems. I’m finding that if I’m using my phone as a modem and have it sitting next to the ipad, I get more disconnects.

The first unit had this crazy problem where it would act like I’d held the return key down. I’d get 20-40 blank lines. I’d have to delete them all and continue writing. The second unit has done this only once.

There is also a sharp edge on the little flap that folds out to hold the keyboard on in its closed mode. I read this in the reviews and dismissed it, but it is actually annoying. Not a dealbreaker, but a reminder of bad design every time I pick the unit up. I’m temped to take some sandpaper to it, but I don’t carry it that often – usually it’s bag to table, table back to bag.

The good

So it probably sounds like I hate this thing, but I don’t. The keys are awesome, and have just a bit of travel. I find this keyboard very fast, and I like the arrangement. The top row of keys has special functions that actually work. The keys are very slightly rubbery, and it is quiet.

The keyboard is very light. I don’t have to worry about charging it because it runs on a couple CR2032 cells, which have become so common I actually have spares in the house. My old keyboard for my old iPad did require charging and it was a pain. It really sucked to get somewhere and find I had a dead keyboard and no charger. They say the batteries will last a few years, but even once a year is not that much, and spares are easy to carry.

This keyboard has made the difference between my new iPad Air 2 being a toy and it being a really useful tool. The new Mac Book may be thin and light but I doubt even it is as light as the iPad/keyboard combo, and the limited OS on the iPad limits distractions – not entirely, but I can’t decide to rearrange my file system while evading my work. I even use it at home, sitting next to my computer because it’s more comfortable than using my Macbook Pro.

Perfection?

No, it’s not perfect. A long way from it. But it’s a pretty good solution. It’s not comfy to carry, but it is comfy to use (you can even type on it while it’s still in the package) and as long as I don’t set my phone down next to it, or have it near other electronic gizmos (like my office phone) it works pretty well.

Is it right for you? I’m not going to tell you to run out and buy one. Get to someplace that has it, try the keyboard out, and then ask yourself if you’re the kind of person who’s going to be driven mad by disconnects. The first one was bad, but I still used it. The second one still disconnects but not as bad as the first. I’ve got two Apple bluetooth keyboards, and I get tempted to take one of those, but they don’t travel well. So I stay with the Logitech. Sometimes I don’t really notice the disconnects. The rest of the time the on-screen keyboard popping up unexpectedly is like getting a whiff of a really bad fart (someone else’s) – annoying & disruptive, but you deal with it and move on. When it disconnects, pressing a key reconnects, so it’s not like I have to leave the app and re-pair.

Logitech, if you’re listening, please fix the disconnects. Add backlights to the keys and I’d have paid $50 more.

UPDATE: August 2015 – This thing is awful. The disconnects have gotten worse, sometimes to the point where I hit keys as often to bring the keyboard back to life as to actually enter anything. I cannot recommend this product.

Ever Have Buyer’s Remorse?

Buyer’s remorse. There is no worse feeling than buying something that you thought you really wanted, only to look at it in the days afterward and realize I’ve wasted my money. If I’m lucky, I can take it back. If not, well, I guess that is education. It still sucks.

I’ve bought lots of things I’ve regretted afterward. It took a long time for me to learn not to do this. What changed?

I started an “I want to buy” list. I keep it inside the back cover of my journal.

It started during a time when we were especially short of extra cash, and I simply couldn’t buy what I wanted – even small items had to be planned. So I wrote things down when I got the urge to buy them, planning for the day when I’d have the cash. I found that this made it easier to save – scarcity made for better management. I hoarded my play money and bided my time. When I really felt the need to buy something – anything – I would consult the list and get something I saw there that I still wanted. I rarely regretted the choice. What I bought might not be exciting, but it wasn’t disappointing.

It stuck. I still occasionally slip up but it’s only with much smaller items. Now if something costs more than $20 or so I put it on the list and wait a few days. An especially good sale might get me to buy sooner, but I’ve learned that waiting actually makes it better, for several reasons.

First, I’m better prepared to make use of it. Because I’ve been thinking of it I know what i”m going to do. There’s a place to put it. This is especially important for large things, or things that require assembly.

Second, I have the money ready for it and can afford to miss it.

Third, I know it’s going to be a good purchase and that provides some satisfaction as well. In the rare circumstance where it wasn’t, I know I did my best to make sure it was.

That’s the way things should be. We should buy them because we’ve mindfully considered them, decided we need them, and they will contribute to our lives.

As an interesting side benefit, the want-to-buy list makes for interesting reading. I can see some items that get mentioned more than once. More than a few ‘fad’ items – things I got a very sudden and strong interest in – that definitely fall into the “I am so glad I didn’t buy that!” category. I can remember the enthusiasm I had a the time – and it sometimes reminds me of how I feel about something else now, which reinforces the need to use the list.

Over time I’ve learned that there are some categories of things where I can’t go too far wrong, and choices are pretty safe. Clothing is one. Shoes (might seem strange for some) are another, unless I get the fit wrong.

Expensive things that are rarely used are a danger zone. Expensive things for a new hobby I’ve suddenly gotten interested in are in the exreme-danger-don’t-go-here-without-an-adult danger zone.

Do you find yourself making some bad buying decisions? Give the I Want To Buy list a try!