There's genius in Logitech's Solar Keyboard Folio for the iPad: no one wants another gadget to charge. So, why not use the power of the sun to charge it instead? The gadget in this case is a keyboard case, designed to fit around an iPad 2 or third-generation iPad like a book cover. The iPad has tons of keyboard case solutions, but this is the first solar-powered one I've ever reviewed.
The keyboard has no AC charger, and no hole for an adapter. Bonded to the inside of the Keyboard Folio's cover-flap, the keyboard is comfortably wide, made of plastic, and has taller keys with more travel than accessories like the Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I actually preferred the typing experience on shallower Keyboard Cover's keys, but it's still very good here.
The other genius idea in this case is its automatic pairing process: insert an iPad into the hard rubberized shell bonded to the thinly upholstered Folio, bend it into keyboard position by slotting two jutting feet onto the end into slots above the keys, and the keyboard turns on and starts pairing. It happens seemingly by magic.
Those who find the idea of no backup USB charging option might start panicking, but Logitech promises that a fully charged Folio will last for two years when typing two hours a day. Charging takes up to six hours in dim light but "much faster" in brighter light. In our office-use tests, the Folio seemed good to go after a few hours. There's no charge-status indicator, so it's a bit of a leap of faith.
There are two positions the Keyboard Folio can sit in: keyboard mode, and a more reclined media-viewing mode, about 45 degrees. The iPad covers all the keyboard keys except the bottom row, and -- clever, again -- the keys switch function to media-control buttons. The arrow keys now control volume and fast-forward/rewind, and the space bar plays and pauses. Lift the Folio up off the notches that the feet rest in, and the keys revert back to normal function by themselves.
What's not so genius is this case's $129 price...and its faltering case design. The entire outer material feels flimsy, as if cut from a single sheet of upholstery fabric. It actually holds up well when the folio is closed flat or opened up into keyboard mode -- when closed, the whole package rests firmly and nests solidly like a book -- but anything in-between feels loose and floppy.