The last time I pitted Logitech against ZAGG, well, Logitech was still called that and there was no iPad Pro. Matter of fact, it was actually an iPad which had me taking a look at the two companies competing keyboard products. I’m a writer and a keyboard is an essential part of my life, so I wanted to see just how comfortably people could get things done on a tablet with the right tools. Especially tools from two manufacturers known for putting out quality typing experiences on the mobile market. This time, I’m doing the same thing but one much grander scale. 12.9” to be exact. Today we pit Logitech's Create against ZAGG’s Slim Book, both for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Check out our video review, here:
The promise of the giant iPad Pro, per the “Pro” moniker, is that you’re going to be able to get work done! Serious work. Apple has even added its own detachable Smart Keyboard cover to its lineup of accessories which also includes the Apple Pen. And, as much as the Pen is a joy to use, typing is a much faster method of input for mine and many people’s writing needs. I’ve tried Apple’s Smart Keyboard cover and though I love it for it’s svelte figure, the keys themselves leave a lot to be desired for anything other than answering a few emails and typing up a few status updates on your social network of choice. So, what to do? Look at the alternatives.
When I last put the two companies to the test, I came out with a clear winner. This time around, things weren’t so simple. The ZAGG Slim Book is made up of two components, a case and a Bluetooth keyboard. The case is similar to Apple’s own silicon protective cases in that it is open-face, protecting only the back and sides of the device, with the usual cutouts for charging, camera, speakers, volume and power button. Unlike the silicon case, it has a slick back, which I’m not a huge fan of. I’d much rather have something textured or that feels a tad grippy like silicon. Logitech’s Create is a one-piece affair, much like Apple’s own Smart Keyboard Cover, and has only two angles it can be used at. This case’s outer material is a textured cloth-like water repellant material, making it feel more secure to carry than the Slim Book. One of the best parts of carrying around the 12.9” iPad Pro is that despite its size, it’s lighter than most laptops, making it a very portable way to get things done. Using the Slim Book negates that. Putting the iPad Pro in the case, which then attaches to the keyboard half of the unit adds a decent amount of weight to the Pro which is just over 1.5 lbs by itself but comes in at just under 4lbs inside the Slim Book. With the two halves together, it feels like you’re carrying a retina MacBook Pro. To be fair, the CREATE and iPad Pro aren’t that much lighter. You’re looking at a device that will double the Pro’s 1.6lb weight.
With the Slim Book, you’ll get the usual complement of function keys for an iOS Bluetooth keyboard but this one is also backlit and gives you 7 colors to choose from at three different brightness levels. Logi Create works with the smart connector and adds one feature to the function keys that ZAGG lacks and that is the ability to control screen brightness. This would seem like a little thing, but ZAGGs hinge covers of of the bezel area on the iPad Pro making accessing the iOS Control Center a bit difficult.
THE PRODUCTIVITY EXPERIENCE
ZAGG’s Slim Book feels wonderful to type on! They are known for their quality keyboards and the Slim Book does not disappoint. Key spacing, pitch and travel all feel very good for a mobile product. My preference is always for super clicky mechanical keyboards, but I’ve always appreciated ZAGG’s keyboard builds in the mobile space. Logitech’s Logi CREATE on the other hand has island-style chiclet keys but it feels like they’re a bit more shallow in terms of key travel (1.5mm key travel) and as you can see the deck is a bit more compact. This is either a positive or negative depending on your needs. If you’re a road warrior, then ZAGG’s keyboard is definitely going to be less airplane tray travel friendly, whereas the CREATE takes up less space and should allow you to get work done in more cramped quarters.
Between the two keyboard covers, the ZAGG is definitely more rigid so typing on a lap or uneven surface feels a bit more stable. You’ll definitely experience some flex with the CREATE and you’ll get more flexibility from the Slim Book. It can be used at an angle up to 135 degrees and can be used in laptop, tent or tablet modes. There’s only one angle for the CREATE when it’s attached to the smart connector, though you can disconnect it from there and lay it almost flat so that you can use it with the Apple Pen for artwork or taking notes.
One thing you won’t have to concern yourself with all that much when it comes to the CREATE is power. Since it’s powered through the smart connector, there’s nothing to charge. The Slim Book, being a Bluetooth connected device will require you to charge it. The frequency with which you’ll have to charge is dependent upon how often you use the backlighting. Without the backlighting, ZAGG says you’ll get two years between charges. Additionally, since it’s using Bluetooth, you’ll also get the ability to use the keyboard with three separate Bluetooth devices which can be programmed into the 1,2 and 3 number keys on the keyboard.
I know this may sound like a cop out, but it’s a tough decision and I don’t think there’s a clear-cut winner here. For me, even though I’m really bothered by how slick the case is, I’d probably go with ZAGG’s Slim Book because of the lack of flex when writing in uneven places and the flexibility of the keyboard case. At the end of the day though, both are great keyboard cases and offer a much better alternative to Apple’s offering if you’re expecting to do any serious typing on your iPad Pro 12”.
There’s just one caveat in making this choice. When removing the iPad Pro from the ZAGG case, I cracked a corner of the case and if I had purchased this, I’d be taking it back for a replacement. I’ve read of others having this issue as well, leading me to believe that the CREATE may be built a bit better for the long haul. ZAGGs keyboard will be fine, I’m sure, but the cover it goes into may be a bit questionable if you think you’re going to be removing the iPad from time to time.
Disclosure: Logitech and ZAGG provided us with sample units for the purpose of this review.