Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio (for iPad) review

If you don't mind paying a premium to go green, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad offers an excellent typing experience in a package you'll never have to worry about keeping charged.

Green is good, but, for the most part, solar powered devices I’ve tested have proven to be bulky, inefficient, overpriced, or some combination of the three. The Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio ($129.99 direct), fortunately, is an add-on iPad keyboard case with a solar panel that doesn’t detract from the design or function of the device. It’s more expensive than non-green alternatives, like Logitech’s own excellent Ultrathin Keyboard Cover , but for those looking to lighten the load on the planet, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio won’t disappoint.

Design, Setup, and Keyboard
Logitech offers the Solar Folio in carbon black, urban grey, ice blue, or coral pink.A thin suede cover wraps around a rubberized plastic frame and keyboard, giving the Solar Keyboard Folio an understated look and comfortable feel in your hand. The solar panel itself is unobtrusive and adds little bulk. Inside, next to the keyboard, is a plastic pad and metal bar that ostensibly houses the battery and energy conversion technology. Given the keyboard’s height, the solar components don’t really add any unwieldy girth to the folio. At 1.02 pounds, the Solar Folio is a bit heavy—the Logitech Ultrathin weighs only 11.36 ounces. The suede outer portion of the case isn’t terribly rigid, so I wouldn’t count on this folio for too much protection from falls.

There’s a plastic frame that accommodates the iPad 2 the third-generation iPad, and Apple’s latest fourth-generation model. For the latter, it just has a larger opening than necessary for the slimmer Lightning connector. It’s easy to install and remove iPads, and cutouts allow access to all the tablet’s ports and buttons. There are little rubber feet that stick out at the bottom of the frame and prop the iPad up in multiple typing positions or at a flatter angle for watching movies in your lap. 

Setup is very simple, as the Solar Folio automatically turns on and enters pairing mode the first time you prop your iPad up in a typing position. To the right of the keyboard is a Battery Check button and Bluetooth Connect button, pressing the former lets you check to see if the battery is low and pressing the latter allows you to re-pair with another iPad. The Solar Folio automatically turns off when not in use and in my tests, turned on rapidly when propped back into typing position. Logitech claims that six hours of normal room lighting will provide a sufficient charge, but there is no other way to charge the keyboard. Luckily, the Solar Folio never ran out of power on me, even when keeping it primarily indoors, where the only light source was artificial.

The Solar Folio uses the same layout and chiclet style keys as the Logitech Ultrathin. As such, key feel here is excellent and I had no trouble typing long documents on the iPad. The keys have a satisfying click to them and they never felt mushy or unresponsive. There’s a bit more flex with the Solar Folio than the Ultrathin, which has a far more rigid aluminum frame. I was able to comfortably type in my lap, as the rubber feet helped keep the folio propped up. There are no dedicated function keys other than the Home button, but an Fn key provides shortcuts for media controls and commands like cut, copy, or paste.

Conclusions
The Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio retains the excellent key feel from the company’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, but loses the slick look and rigid aluminum frame in favor of solar charging capability. Thankfully, the solar panels don’t add any significant bulk and I never found myself waiting for the folio to charge in the sun. It isn’t quite as versatile as the ClamCase, but it’s more portable and you’ll never have to worry about carrying around extra cables or adapters. Bluetooth keyboard folios on the whole don’t require too much charging though, so if you’re not overly concerned with your carbon footprint, I’d recommend getting the less-expensive Ultrathin Keyboard, which offers a more portable and attractive design with a sturdier keyboard. 

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Verdict
If you don't mind paying a premium to go green, the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio for iPad offers an excellent typing experience in a package you'll never have to worry about keeping charged.
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