Logitech Slim Combo gives iPad Pro a comfy keyboard [Review]

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The Logitech Slim Combo iPad Pro keyboard case puts a rugged cover on your precious tablet. But it's not for everyone.
The Slim Combo puts a rugged cover on your precious iPad Pro. But it's not for everyone.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

If you use the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro, you know it’s got the power to replace a MacBook for some tasks (especially if you’re running iOS 11, which gives your iPad superpowers).

The Logitech Slim Combo case, with a clamshell design and a complete keyboard, makes your iPad Pro seem even more like a laptop than ever. It’s not all super-portable bliss, though. A couple of strange design choices make you painfully aware that the Slim Combo isn’t an Apple product.

Logitech Slim Combo review

Logitech has a long history of cranking out quality accessories, including the legendary Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for vintage iPads. The Slim Combo brings some changes to that classic design — some welcome, some not so much.

A beefy, protective iPad Pro case

You’ll notice the material first. Logitech made the Slim Combo case out of textured plastic and “high performance technical fabric.” It’s durable and protective, but it brings to mind an ice chest. The deep Classical Blue color of the review unit Logitech sent me looks innocuous enough — it’s slightly more interesting than basic black. Overall, it’s holding up beautifully, even after a couple of drops. (My iPad Pro is fine, too.)

The case comes in two pieces, which snap together (and come apart) quickly and easily thanks to some magnetic magic. The Slim Combo uses the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector to good effect. Positioning the two halves anywhere near the proper position causes the Slim Combo’s flexible, rubbery connection to jump in place practically automatically. That makes it simple to use the keyboard — or to quickly leave it behind and use the tablet half in one of three modes.

That’s not the only benefit of this design: The Smart Connector means the keyboard pulls its power from the iPad Pro. Luckily, it sips battery — its impact on battery life is basically imperceptible. Better yet, you’ll never think about charging or replacing a keyboard battery again.

A rubbery loop on the side of the case holds an Apple Pencil. It does the job, but seems strangely out of place, like a vestigial organ.

Slim Combo keyboard is almost perfect

The Slim Combo's keyboard feels fantastic under the fingers.
The Slim Combo’s keyboard feels fantastic under the fingers.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

I found the Slim Combo QWERTY keyboard extremely comfortable to type on. Obviously, the touch of a keyboard is a totally personal thing. (Many people hate the filthy Goldtouch ergonomic keyboard I’ve been using for years, but I love it.)

The Logitech Slim Combo feels great to me when typing, especially for such a small keyboard. Frankly, I like it more than the revised butterfly mechanism keyboard on my MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. I find my touch-typing to be more accurate on the Logitech keyboard as well — except for one unfortunate thing.

The keyboard comes with a thin row of handy iOS shortcuts above it that let you perform common tasks (going to the Home screen, adjusting volume, controlling media playback, etc.). You can adjust the brightness of the keyboard backlight and the iPad screen as well.

Mostly, the shortcuts work wonders. However, in the upper right corner, at the end of the row of iOS shortcuts, an irksome little key with a lock symbol lurks right above the Delete key. That little bugger drives me absolutely batty.

Touching that key, as you might expect, locks and powers down your iPad Pro. Even after using the keyboard for weeks, I still inadvertently touch that key. Instantly, my screen turns to black.

Who knows: Maybe I will adjust to it eventually. But for now, it’s almost a deal-breaker for using the Slim Combo keyboard.

Slim Combo in tablet mode

The other problem with the keyboard isn’t a problem with the keyboard at all. It’s a problem with me. It’s a niggling irritation driven by my preferred way to use the iPad Pro — without a keyboard.

I frequently use the powerful little tablet’s built-in dictation for responding to email and talking to my Cult of Mac colleagues in Slack. With arms and wrists fried from years of typing, the iPad Pro’s fantastic dictation skills relieve some of the strain of typing.

However, holding the tablet in your hand feels strange when it’s in the Logitech case. The edge of the case extends a quarter-inch out from the face of the tablet. That’s totally great for protecting the iPad’s precious screen from drops, scratches, etc.

However, the protective lip degrades the experience of holding the iPad Pro. No longer do you get to enjoy Apple’s clean lines. In fact, the Slim Combo is worse than that, because the case does not wrap uniformly around the screen.

Cutouts make way for the iPad Pro’s ports, speakers and Smart Connector. And that makes for a form factor (in tablet mode) that feels decidedly uneven in the hand. It’s not horrible, but if you plan to spend most of your time using the tablet without the keyboard, you might do well to consider other options.

The Slim Combo’s hit-and-miss kickstand

And then there’s the folding kickstand on the back that props up the tablet in a variety of positions. This works quite well when using the tablet alone sans keyboard in landscape mode. You can stand the tablet at a range of angles and it sits quite stably on a flat surface. It’s absolutely perfect for watching videos, reading or surfing the web — basically, any horizontal task that doesn’t require a keyboard.

The kickstand works in portrait mode, too, but you don’t get a variety of viewing angles – and it doesn’t seem as stable as horizontal. Logitech pitches this as perfect for FaceTime conversations, and indeed it’s great for that.

Here’s where things get ugly. The kickstand also supports the iPad Pro when it’s connected to the keyboard via the Smart Connector. Unfortunately, this design utterly fails when used on anything other than a flat surface with plenty of room behind the screen.

You cannot use your iPad Pro like a laptop in your actual lap with this case. And it barely works on a coach-class tray table when flying. The span from the front edge of the keyboard to the back edge of the kickstand is just too long. When working during a Southwest flight, I found myself constantly nudging the back edge of the kickstand off the tray table.

In short, the Slim Combo’s keyboard only works reliably when you’ve got a table or desk with ample room.

Logitech Slim Combo: The verdict

The Logitech Slim Combo iPad Pro case definitely makes your tablet seem more like a laptop, for better or worse. Weighing in at 1.16 pounds, it comes in slightly heavier than the tablet itself, so you’re doubling the weight of Apple’s beastly bantamweight tablet.

That may not seem like much, but if you want to truly enjoy the benefits of a whisper-thin tablet, this sort of mars that experience. And that’s a shame, because the iPad Pro is a lithe and beautiful machine.

The Slim Combo’s multiple modes make it an all-round option for a variety of uses, but the design choices keep it from excelling at some of them. If you’re hell-bent on typing, and you plan to work exclusively on large flat surfaces, it’s a fantastic choice. If, however, you plan to revel in the iPad Pro’s pure, tablet-y nature, you should consider other options.

Buy from: Amazon — $136.95

Buy from: Logitech — $129 (for 10.5-inch iPad Pro) or $149.99 (12.9-inch iPad Pro)