Logitech’s Combo Touch keyboard is exactly what Apple fans have been begging for. It has a fully adjustable kickstand, a first-class detachable keyboard, and most notably, a built-in trackpad. iPad Pro owners get to use the official Magic Keyboard case, but for us regular iPad, iPad Air, and 10.5-inch iPad Pro owners, the Combo Touch keyboard is a kick-ass alternative.
In the past, I’ve argued that people should replace their cheap Windows laptop with an iPad or a Chromebook. It’s a simple argument: iPads and Chromebooks in the $300 to $500 price range are faster, more reliable, and easier to use than similarly priced Windows machines. They also sport 10-hour batteries, which is just icing on the cake.
But this suggestion comes with a caveat. The iPad’s touchscreen controls, while fantastic, aren’t always great for writing documents or browsing the internet. As I see it, Chromebooks are usually a better choice for people who prefer a traditional laptop form factor, or people who spend a lot of time writing documents.
Logitech’s new Combo Touch case puts a serious dent in my Chromebook caveat. Its adjustable kickstand, backlit keyboard, and multi-touch trackpad add a new level of precision to the iPad—something that will feel like a necessity to most users. And because the Combo Touch’s detachable keyboard connects to the iPad magnetically, you don’t have to worry about using Bluetooth or charging any batteries. It’s an intuitive accessory that, in many ways, makes the iPad feel like a Microsoft Surface tablet.
Still, the Combo Touch isn’t perfect. It’s a bit bulky and it has some weird minor flaws. And again, it makes the iPad feel like a Surface Pro, which isn’t always a great thing. Here’s what I think after spending a week with the Combo Touch keyboard case.
The Trackpad, Keyboard, and Kickstand Are Fantastic
Let’s start with the good stuff. Logitech worked with Apple to design the Combo Touch, and the effort clearly paid off. The Combo Touch’s glass trackpad is surprisingly comfortable and provides a nice tactile response when clicked. Even multi-touch gestures, which I expected to be a pain in the ass, feel natural and intuitive with the Combo Touch’s trackpad. You can swipe with three fingers to jump between apps, for example, or tap with two fingers to perform a right click.
The Combo Touch trackpad has just two quirks, but they aren’t a huge deal. For one, only the bottom half of the trackpad actually clicks in, which may feel strange if you’re a MacBook user. The second issue is that tap-to-click is turned off by default. I had to dig through the iPad settings to turn it on, which took more effort than you’d expect. Of course, Apple’s the one who loses points for this foible, not Logitech.
I know that the Combo Touch trackpad is supposed to be the star of the show, but I’m actually more impressed by the keyboard. It’s backlit, with keys that are well spaced and have 1 mm of travel. Typing on this keyboard feels similar to typing on a Surface Pro, and I can reach about 85 words per minute without any strain. And because the removable keyboard is sturdy (i.e., unbendable), I haven’t experienced any weird jiggling while typing in my lap. That said, I wish that the Combo Touch had a raised typing angle—something that Microsoft’s Surface products achieve using magnets.
Unlike Apple’s official iPad keyboards, the Combo Touch sports a row of function keys for adjusting brightness, volume, and the keyboard backlight, among other things. My only complaint about this keyboard, aside from the lack of a typing angle, is that it doesn’t fold behind the iPad. If you want to go into tablet mode, you have to detach the keyboard and set it down next to you. After using the iPad Folio keyboard, this feels like a step in the wrong direction, as it limits my ability to quickly jump between typing mode and tablet mode.
Finally, there’s the Combo Touch kickstand. It uses the same adjustable kickstand mechanism as the Surface Pro, so you can hit any viewing angle while typing or bumming around in tablet mode. If Logitech sold this kickstand case on its own, it would sell like hotcakes.
Still, the kickstand case isn’t perfect. Like Microsoft’s tablets, the Combo Touch kickstand and keyboard take up a lot of space when extended, which sucks for people who have small desks or short legs. My legs are long, so I haven’t had any issue using the Combo Touch in my lap, but I do have a lot to say about the kickstand case’s size and weight.
But the Case Itself Is Bulky and Difficult to Remove
Like most reviewers, the first thing that I noticed about the Combo Touch is its size. This thing is a chunky monkey, and it doubles the thickness and weight of my iPad Air. It’s a far cry from the super-thin Folio keyboard, and it makes the iPad look and feel like its been childproofed.
In my mind, this added bulk is the Combo Touch’s biggest flaw. I’m happy to take on a little extra weight for a trackpad, but most of the Combo Touch’s mass lies in its kickstand case. The keyboard itself is actually very lightweight. Additionally, the Combo Touch kickstand case is very difficult to remove from the iPad, which makes it feel like a permanent thick accessory.
As useful as the kickstand case is (again, I think that people would buy it even without the keyboard), it’s just too chunky and difficult to remove. Most people will just live with the bulk, but I have a feeling that some people will pair the Combo Touch keyboard with a lightweight third-party kickstand, like the adhesive MOFT.
You Gain Some Magic, You Lose Some Magic
The first time you use it, the Logitech Combo Touch keyboard feels like a bulky awkward necessity. After just a week with the Combo Touch, I can’t imagine going back to my trackpad-less Folio keyboard case. Logitech did a great job with the Combo Touch and proved that the iPad can take on a more traditional laptop form-factor.
But the iPad loses a bit of its magic while stuck in the Logitech Combo Touch case. I’m not sure how to explain it—using the Logitech Combo Touch as a permanent add-on limits my ability to switch between work and leisure mind-sets. It’s an issue that I didn’t anticipate and still don’t fully understand. If the Combo Touch was thinner, easier to remove from the iPad, and had a keyboard that could fold backwards, then I don’t think that it would feel so permanent, which might alleviate the issue that I’m experiencing.
Other people may not have the same feeling that I have, especially if they want to be in laptop mode all the time or are used to using the iPad in a bulky case. Either way, I think I understand why Apple is reluctant to push the iPad as a total laptop replacement. Doing so might turn the iPad into another Surface tablet, which may not be the smartest idea.
Even Apple’s official accessories express this reluctance. The new iPad Magic Keyboard is a cross between a docking station and a case, and it detaches from the iPad with zero effort. It may not have the most conventional design, but the Magic Keyboard allows users to quickly jump between productivity and leisure modes—something that I hope Logitech keeps in mind while designing future iPad keyboards.
For all of the Combo Touch’s faults, it still feels like an absolute necessity. It really makes the iPad feel like a Surface Pro, which is mostly a good thing. Editing documents is easier with the Combo Touch, and the iPad’s desktop-class Safari browser really shines when paired with a precise trackpad and fast keyboard.
Still, the Combo Touch is a first-gen product, and it’s a bit expensive at $150. If you aren’t totally convinced that it’s worth the money, I’d suggest using a cheap Bluetooth mouse and keyboard until something better comes along. This is more of a desktop solution than a portable solution, but hey, it’s still worth considering.
Here’s What We Like
- Fantastic glass trackpad
- Backlit keyboard with good travel
- Sturdy, adjustable stand
- Works with the basic iPad and iPad Air
And What We Don't
- The case is too bulky
- Keyboard doesn't fold behind iPad
- Case is difficult to remove