Logitech’s touchpad case turns your iPad into a laptop, for a lot less than Apple’s Magic Keyboard


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iPad Air (2019), sitting in the Logitech Combo Touch.


Scott Stein/CNET

It’s great to have a trackpad for the iPad. With the trackpad support in iOS 13.4, I feel like the iPad has crossed over to being most of what I need in a computer-like device. There are still quirks and wish list items, but the ability to zip around with a trackpad (and edit) is a huge help for me.

Like

  • Sturdy case
  • Responsive trackpad
  • Case can be used with or without keyboard
  • Adjustable kickstand

Don’t Like

  • Not lap friendly
  • A few bugs with keys in iPadOS
  • Bulky, heavy case

But finding the right keyboard accessory, that’s a challenge.

Apple’s expensive new iPad Pro ($800 starting price) has Apple’s fancy Magic Trackpad ($300 or $350). But for those with a 2019 iPad Air, 10.5-inch iPad Pro (from 2017), or the current entry-level 10.2-inch iPad, Logitech’s $150 (£129, AU$250) trackpad-enabled case adds trackpad functions on those tablets, too. For the price, it’s probably the best value option for a lot of people.

I’ve been trying one for a few days. So far, I like it. In fact, I wrote this whole review on one.

The Combo Touch is lot like the Logitech Slim Combo case I reviewed years ago, except with a trackpad attached. The ongoing problem with the kickstand case and its bottom-attaching keyboard is it’s not lap-friendly at all, similar to the Microsoft Surface line. It’s also bulky, compared to other third-party cases.

But still, there are parts that win me over.

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Working on this review, side-by-side with a MacBook Pro.


Scott Stein/CNET

The keyboard and trackpad: Pretty good so far

So far I like the backlit keyboard, even if the raised keys aren’t quite as responsive as the Brydge Pro Plus keyboard/trackpad I recently tried for the iPad Pro, or a MacBook. But the trackpad is much better than the Brydge Pro Plus’ was, and navigates iPadOS with a few double- and triple-finger gestures. All of it works well enough.

One thing that was weird for me: The keyboard’s apostrophe key didn’t work at first. (It turns out there’s a fix: In Settings, under General-Keyboard-Hardware Keyboard, the keyboard needs to be set to “US” instead of “Automatic,” but a future iOS update should address this, according to Logitech.)

The feeling of the keyboard is solid otherwise, and on a table this is a stellar option for laptop-ifying an entry level iPad or iPad Air. With the Air, it was a great experience. It should be similar on the entry iPad, since both have nearly identical case dimensions and the same keyboard/trackpad size.

A row of extra function keys at the top of the keyboard adds a home button, brightness controls, volume, search, keyboard backlight adjustment and play/pause control; all helpful, and all missing from Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard.

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The cover can be removed, in case you want to ditch the keyboard for a while.


Scott Stein/CNET

It’s bulky but versatile

The Combo Touch case adds some bulk to the iPad, but the thick cladding gives it a durable feel (maybe that’s good for kids). The kickstand on the back is helpful for standing the iPad up, and it’s adjustable. A Pencil loop holds your hard-to-store Pencil, if you have one. 

The keyboard part is detachable, so the iPad can be used on its own with the keyboard base doubling as a screen cover. FYI, the Lightning and headphone jack ports are accessible, but are hidden inside some heavily recessed case indents.

The case itself is floppy, meaning it is made to fit on a desk, not a lap. The Microsoft Surface-style design has a detachable keyboard that snaps on the bottom and a kickstand on the case. It won’t stay still on my lap. So yeah, the iPad is totally a computer with this case, just not much of a laptop.

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The keyboard snaps on to the side and can be removed (but only works when attached to the Smart Connector).


Scott Stein/CNET

Costly, but worth it

Adding the Logitech case to your iPad will cost you: The $150 case is basically half the price of the lower-cost iPad: that would run  you $480 for the iPad and Logitech combo, while the iPad Air, at $499 plus the case, would cost $649. But, that’s still hundreds less than Apple’s $300-to-$350 Magic Keyboard would cost on top of an $800-plus iPad Pro.

You don’t necessarily need a dedicated iPad-specific keyboard and pointer tool. You could always just pair an extra Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and use them with an iPad.  But, I like the convenience and extra trackpad gesture controls here more.

Other than really not being lap-usable, this Logitech case is thick but excellent. It’s a totally decent desk companion and really can turn an iPad into a kinda-sorta-laptop if you need it.

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