Finding the right case for a smartphone is like finding the Holy Grail -- it's nearly impossible. Finding the perfect keyboard case for a tablet is even harder; a good case has to hit so many points correctly to make a lasting impression. The Logitech PRO tablet case, unfortunately only for the Samsung Galaxy NotePRO and Tab PRO 12.2, is my favourite ever keyboard and case combo for any tablet I've used.
What Is It?
The Logitech PRO, at a frankly incredible $159.95 asking price, is only available to suit the 12.2-inch Samsung Galaxy NotePRO and its consumer TabPRO variant. I have a NotePRO that I use regularly, but up until now I haven't had a suitable case or Bluetooth keyboard to use it with and because of that, it's felt somewhat ineffective as an actual productivity tool. The PRO case from Logitech suits, me, then, but it is otherwise all too niche -- the TabPRO is at least $600 and the NotePRO is at least $800, so don't bother reading on unless you have one of these already expensive tablets and are prepared to shell out more for a keyboard case.
The PRO case only comes in black, and is a combination of thick dark fabric wrap, faux leatherette and glossy or matte black plastic. When you first look at the PRO keyboard case, in its retail box, it's not all that exciting; it's a light and misshapen lump of plastic. Clip in the 12.2-inch NotePRO, though, and everything falls into place perfectly. The first thing you notice about the PRO is its small white Logitech-branded leatherette tag, which is nonremovable -- it's entirely cosmetic, but at least it looks nice and makes a nice contrast against the black keyboard.
The 'top' of the PRO is two tone leatherette and fabric, with a cutout for the tablet's camera and for the stylus (conspicuously missing on the TabPRO, which makes that cutout useless for half the PRO case's owners). The fabric section is slightly flexible; this is what moves when you want to position the tablet in the PRO's keyboard dock for writing. The fabric is tough, and doesn't look like it'll rip or pick up scratches or mark easily. The entire base of the PRO is also cut from the same cloth.
What Is It Good At?
Flip open the PRO case and slot the base of your Samsung Galaxy NotePRO or TabPRO into the trough, and flip the power switch on the rear right side of the PRO case, and you're ready to go nearly instantly. The case slumbers in a low-power mode when you're not using it, maintaining the Bluetooth connection, but I generally preferred to keep it completely powered off until I needed to use it. Logitech claims three months of battery life through the microUSB side charging port, which I have no hope at all of being able to test accurately, but for now I'll take them at their word.
As with any other Bluetooth keyboard on Android, the setup procedure is seamless; power on the keyboard, go into settings, find it, type the six-digit sequence that pops up on screen, and you're ready to go. That's the first time only, too, since from that point onwards you're able to connect it automatically whenever you switch on Bluetooth from either the tablet or the keyboard. It never dropped out or lost connection or began behaving strangely, and that's the highest praise that you can give any piece of Bluetooth-enabled technology in my opinion.
Typing on the PRO case is bliss; it's absolutely far and away the best tablet keyboard that I have used. It's better than quite a few laptop keyboards, with smoothly clicking and well-defined keypresses that mean that with a bit of practice I was able to type almost as quickly as on a full-sized mechanical (for comparison's sake, I use a Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless with Cherry MX Blue switches, and a Leopold FC700R with Cherry MX Reds, every day). There's a full row of Android shortcut buttons that are smartly placed and genuinely convenient once you've learned all their correct purposes and uses, and a secondary set of function keys activated with the function toggle next to the left Control key.
There's not really too much to talk about with the Logitech PRO case because it only has a few goals -- protect the tablet you place inside it, and provide a Bluetooth keyboard for you to connect to that tablet with. It does both of those exceptionally well -- there's no chance for you to scratch or scuff or damage the tablet, and the keyboard is just supremely good for a tablet case. There is one case I can think of on the market that might rival it, the ClamCase Pro (which we'll review soon), but being an iPad case it's apples and oranges.
What Is It Not Good At?
This is not an especially slim (or light, at 583g) case. The Logitech PRO will slightly more than double the thickness of the tablet that it protects and adds a physical keyboard to; the advantages far outweigh that disadvantage, in my opinion, but there will be some people for whom an over-two-centimetre-thick case just isn't worth it. This is especially true when an Ultrabook-grade ultraportable laptop like the LG Ultra PC (which I also own and love) can cost only slightly more and be considerably more versatile.
The keyboard dock for your tablet only has one position, which is annoying. It is perfectly positioned for writing when the tablet plus case is sitting on your knees on a train seat, or for typing on a fold-out airplane seat tray table, but it's not optimum if you're using the PRO on a table that you're sitting low at. A hinge probably would have been more annoying still, but it would have been more versatile.
The clips that hold your Samsung tablet into the PRO case's top section -- there are six of them -- can feel a little flimsy, and if you press on one in the wrong way it's more than possible to pop one off. Do that a few times and you're in danger of the tablet falling out; this isn't a likely occurrence but the fact remains the clips could do with a little more engineering. Even if they were slightly larger and covered a little more of the tablet's bezel, they would be superior to as they currently are.
Oh, and it's expensive. Very expensive. $160 is in the realm of buying another cheap tablet, let alone a few other good quality cases. If you don't absolutely need the keyboard component of a tablet case, there are other much cheaper and equally attractive and functional non-keyboard cases for the NotePRO and other Android tablets of its ilk. Logitech makes a few.
Should You Buy It?
If you have a Samsung Galaxy NotePRO or TabPRO tablet, your choices for cases and keyboard cases are already limited in the first place. But the PRO case from Logitech has been designed specifically for these tablets, and it shows -- everything is just as you could want it to be and the end product is a device that, as long as you're willing to pay, is worth its asking price.
$160 is a lot for a fancy case for an expensive tablet. But if you need a case that effectively protects your 12.2-inch tablet from knocks and scrapes and falls, and works almost seamlessly without any complicated software or interface tweaks or anything more complicated than switching on Bluetooth, the Logitech PRO case is the one to get. It outshines some proper laptop keyboards in some respects, and while it's not especially light or slim, it is a tool that works exactly as intended and that is what makes it worth buying.