back to article Magic! If you have an entry-level iPad, the Combo Touch could make it your workhorse

While Apple saw fit to bestow its wallet-crushingly pricey Magic Keyboard on the iPad Pro and Air, no such love was given to the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad, which is a favourite of schools and hard-pressed parents alike. Filling the gap is Logitech's newest Combo Touch keyboard case, which, for the first time, adds a trackpad to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For less than the price of an Apple keyboard...

    ...You could get a fully-loaded Raspberry Pi 400.

    1. Timmy B

      Re: For less than the price of an Apple keyboard...

      Way to compare apples and... raspberries...

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: For less than the price of an Apple keyboard...

      Any what precisely will be displayed in the unlikely event you manage to plug this wonder into the IO socket of an iPad?

      Also show me the transport options for a Pi 400 and Screen.

      Giant bag of fail sir.

    3. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: For less than the price of an Apple keyboard...

      Very true. But Apple users don't like their hardware to be useful. They prefer to be locked to web browsers and DRM stores containing some of the most scummy consumer software ever.

      And I like to be able to look at what terrible junk people own so I know if I should avoid relying on a good technical decision from them. See, Apple crapware is useful ;)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or a fast tablet with keyboard

      Even that 'cheap' logitech keyboard is 120 GBP or about ~4800 baht.

      For reference a Unisoc A55 Octacore tablet like the iPlay20 Android 10 costs around 4000 baht for the 64GB model / LTE / nice HD+ screen by Sharp. (I have 2 of these, I recommend them over the Teclasts for the better screen and over the Huawei's for the price and over the Samsung's because Sammy puts their own spyware on their tablets and I'm getting sick of it). This is my current go-to tablet:

      https://www.lazada.co.th/catalog/?q=iplay20

      Looking on Amazon, they're pricier in the UK, 135 quid for the tablet plus 15 for the keyboard case. 150 quid and you get a modern Android tablet with bright clean screen for not much more than the *cheap* keyboard for the *older* iPad!

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=iplay20+alldocube&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

      1. Timmy B

        Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

        "150 quid and you get a modern Android tablet with bright clean screen for not much more than the *cheap* keyboard for the *older* iPad!"

        They look like they ship with a low end processor that's 4 years old, and only 3gb ram. Your definition of "modern" is not like mine at all.... That's ignoring the software support that may just provide updates until the middle of next week.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

          No, they're shockingly good, compared to my Tab s7+, not a lot of real world difference. Processor is the newer Unisoc SC9863A.

          I was sold on it by this guy's review, which I think is about right now I own a couple:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zna3G29hDoI

          I'd rate them as mid-range spec/ budget price tablet too.

          135 quid is way more than I paid for mine though, I paid 3300 baht each, i.e. about 82 quid the price seems to have gone up, or UK is getting screwed on price.

          Let me put that into context, my Tab S7+ cost about ten times the price, and there simply isn't a lot of difference between the two beyond the screen size.

          1. Timmy B

            Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

            "Processor is the newer Unisoc SC9863A."

            That's still an A55 processor that rates slower than a 625 and that's a pitiful amount of ram. Let alone firmware updates. Al least with Samsung you'll get some updates - not many but some.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

              Yeh A55 x8 similar to Samsungs 98xx chips. Mid range. A55 is the ARM core used. The Qualcomm 625 is based on the *older* A53 core.

              4GB RAM not 3GB, if you want more get the pro version which I think is 6GB, but given Androids 512MB ram limit per app, it makes no practical difference.

              Firmware updates? It's an up to date Android 10, I don't view Android 10 as better than Android 9 as better than Android 8, so I don't care what half assed crap Android 11 might bring.

              85 quid in a Lazada sale. Ridiculous.

              @ "Al least with Samsung you'll get some updates - not many but some"

              I have a Samsung Tab S3, I have the "slow down" problem when they upgrade Android 8 to Android 9 on those devices. I'll pass on Samsung's updates thanks.

              Google

              [tab s3 laggy android 9]

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

                "I don't care what half assed crap Android 11 might bring."

                There's this thing called the importance of ongoing security updates that you might have heard of?

                Apple's prices might be a bit heavy on the profiteering side, but at least they provide software support for their phones and tablets for a good number of years. (Their even more painfully priced laptops, not always quite such a proportionally fair amount of time, sadly.)

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

        The biggest problem is that Google is not very keen on supporting Android for this kind of use and currently expects them to use ChromeOS. So support from the OS isn't brilliant and, hence, few manufacturers have invested in the products. Samsung might be considered to be the exception with DeX which allows you to connect the phone to a screen and gives you a desktop. This is great as a replacement for a docking station but not usable whilst travelling.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Or a fast tablet with keyboard

          I mostly agree with you.

          I don't like DeX, do they really expect me to move windows around like I would if I had a mouse? The apps are designed for a fixed screen, i.e. they could be run at any common fixed screen ratio, layout should be automatic, more about position of one relative to another, rather than window size.

          I wish a designer (not material design man) would do a proper tablet interface treatment and not simply try to slap a WIMP interface on a touch tablet which is what Samsung did with DeX, or Google did with ChromeOS.

          I have my other gripes with Samsung, My Tab s3 got an upgrade to Android 9 that appears to slow to a crawl as it approaches 500MB RAM usage. I suspect they (or Google) have done a false optimization and cut the garbage collector to get better benchmarks. But I'm a heavy Android user, my software is always hitting the RAM usage limit, and if the garbage collector isn't running properly, then runs as a blocking thread as I hit the RAM limit, typically after only 1 day of software runtime it slows to a crawl! (Now downgraded back to Android 8 and I'm ignoring the software update available message for that tablet).

          Android 10 stopped apps booting at startup. Now I've found the setting (it's buried under battery FFS) I can get around it, but why does each upgrade break stuff? Why do I even have to fix it? Why doesn't it ask me if I want to turn this off to save battery life? Why does it just break stuff and then I have to try to find out how to fix it?

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    the inclusion of backlighting, which is a must-have for late-night work.

    Is it? Working in a decently lighted area is far better for your eyes than working in the dark with the backlighted keyboard. Are there really so many late night workers who have no other option than to work in the dark because their spouse/partner/housemate/whatever is sleeping and there's no other separate room they could work in?

    Other then that, this sounds like a decently good add-on for those who can't afford to throw away one device to buy something more suitable, even if they do end up spending as much as if they'd bought the better option in the first place.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: the inclusion of backlighting, which is a must-have for late-night work.

      Even a cheap battery LED lamp, never mind a mains reading lamp is superior to a backlight keyboard.

      The real use cases for a backlit keyboard are:

      1) Multilingual, where the the layout illuminated changes. Say English plus one off Cyrillic, Hebrew, Thai, Korean, Hindi, Arabic etc.

      2) Full four characters per Key universal Western keyboard using a 2nd shift (usually AltGr on Linux).

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: the inclusion of backlighting, which is a must-have for late-night work.

        An experienced keyboard user can dispense with any kind of keyboard lighting or even the need to look at the keyboard..

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: the inclusion of backlighting, which is a must-have for late-night work.

          I'm pretty experienced but I constantly have to hunt for some keys even if most of the time I don't need to.

      2. -tim
        Boffin

        Re: the inclusion of backlighting, which is a must-have for late-night work.

        Long ago I saw a backlit keyboard hooked to a Apple 1. The owner had created a typing training program that would light up the key you needed to press.

        The status of each light could be read so it could be used to extended memory beyond the base 4k.

  3. Mage Silver badge

    £499 mid range Windows laptop?

    Unless it's gaming, £499 buys a very good laptop with a non-reflective full HD screen. Add Linux Mint with Mate desktop and a VM for you old windows, imaged from old laptop using free MS Disk2vhd.

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/downloads/disk2vhd

    No doubt this is a good idea if you already bought an iPad and don't have any sort of laptop. Though usable USB or Bluetooth keyboards are £10 to £20. Some even with a switch for Android, Apple, Windows, though I've found that if you have SW remapping utility / app they all work on anything. USB keyboards can be got (suits Android) with a prewired USB2Go mini or micro USB plug. Or you can use a £5 adaptor. The proprietary wireless keyboards with a USB dongle work on Android TV, Windows XP and later, Linux and Android (not all versions). Not tried those on a Mac.

    Obviously the sockets on a iPad mean that Bluetooth is simplest to connect.

    And for gaming really you want a PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox etc, not a Windows laptop. Or some sort of custom desktop.

    1. gobaskof

      Re: £499 mid range Windows laptop?

      Refurbished thinkpads are the way forward for decent hardware on the cheap. Thinkpads are bulk bought and bulk handed over to refurbishers. I still run a 10 year old W510 that I bought about 6 years ago for $99 (W/O HDD). Sad thing is I bought it the wrong side of the pond and it has one of those tiny 1 line height enter keys and the "/@ mixed up.

      Or you could make a iPad into a "workhorse" as long as you don't need a terminal: https://www.theregister.com/2020/11/09/apple_cracks_down_on_terminal/

  4. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

    "The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch is that the 10.2-inch iPad simply isn't as good at being a work machine as Apple's more expensive models."

    Why not - Im confused - what's missing, apart from Pencil 2 and USB-C support?

    I dont believe Ipad OS is software-nobbled on the lower end iPad is it?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

      Can't run Qt Creator (for example) on any iPad anyway.

      1. ThomH

        Re: The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

        I tend to spend 95% of my Mac time in either Xcode or Qt Creator, sometimes in an Ubuntu VM, so this is what concerns me about Apple's ongoing repositioning of the iPad as a computer replacement.

        I'm completely on board for the ARM transition but if, separately, Apple starts to strip away the development options on a Mac then I guess I'll switch to something else, which wouldn't be the iPad as currently defined. I can't imagine that happening for a long time though.

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

        You're not addressing the exam question - which is what does the bottom range Ipad give up to the Air and/or the Pro that makes it a lesser desktop machine. Nothing until you bring the 12" Pro into the equation afaik and even then only resolution.

        https://www.tomsguide.com/uk/face-off/ipad-pro-vs-ipad

    2. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

      Smaller screen, slower CPU.

      The A14 chip in the iPad Air 4 beats the 10900K on single-thread workloads, and about the same as a 13" MacBook Pro on multi-core. GPU performance is way ahead of Intel, but if that matters to you, you wouldn't be using Intel's integrated GPU anyway.

      I upgraded to the Air 4 from a 6 year-old Air 2. The Air 2 is still supported with the latest version of iOS 14, and at much the same speed as the original iOS 8 it shipped with. But there are some new features in later versions that don't work on it, mainly due to lack of GPU support and only 2GB RAM.

      USB also greatly increases the range of things you can attach to it vs Lightning.

      1. APseudonymousCoward

        Re: The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

        4GB of ram means the ipad air is gimped and unsuitable for real work right from it's introduction, most will play with it for a few weeks and then leave it to collect dust on a shelf. Shipping any product with 2GB/3GB is simply ecoterrorism at this point.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: The biggest thorn in the side of the Combo Touch...

          Except you're talking cobblers. Care to share an actual use case?

          The current last and 12" Pro's were the first ever Ipads to have more than 4Gb ram. the smaller screened ones never have never exceeded 4.

          Pro 12.9-inch 1G & 2G:

          4 GB LPDDR4 RAM

          Pro 9.7-inch:

          2 GB LPDDR4 RAM

          Pro 10.5-inch:

          4 GB LPDDR4 RAM

          Pro 12.9-inch 3G & Pro 11-inch 1G:

          4 GB or 6 GB LPDDR4 RAM

          Pro 12.9-inch 4G & Pro 11-inch 2G:

          6 GB LPDDR4 RAM

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    It is good that there is an alternative to Apples ludicrously prices keyboard, but at £120 its still quite a lot when you can get bluetooth keyboards for around £20 which will work with an Ipad. I am sure Logitech wouldn't be pricing it anywhere near that if it was for Windows or Android tablets, but lots of companies see Apple users as a cash cow.

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Long ago,

    Perhaps in the jungles of Mexico,

    "They" produced a computer, the Thinkpad Pro

    It was used by the techs

    and they loved it so ...

    Rich were they,

    the computer it cost but it was no Cray

    Had a screen with some keys so they could play

    Like an ipad, with keys

    some descriptions say ...

    Laptop it was

    had a keyboard and trackpoint of fuzzy stuff

    it worked forever and was strong stuff

    but keyboards went out

    and sales were tough ...

    But now here it is

    an iPad, a keyboard and other bits

    to replace a Thinkpad with lots of fizz

    all sparkles and bubbles and lovely foam

    an ikea Thinkpad with an assembly quiz.

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      "Long ago,

      Perhaps in the jungles of Mexico,"

      For some reason, the rhythm of your song has put the old (but rather stereotypingly iffy) Um Bongo advert song in my head…

      (I'm not entirely sure whether that is a bad or good thing…)

      1. Beeblebrox

        "Long ago, Perhaps in the jungles of Mexico,"

        Should be, shurely:

        Long ago, outside a chip shop in Walthamstow.

        There, FTFY

  7. Jason Hindle

    I have the version they do for the 11" iPad Pro

    And the slightly larger form factor makes it very comfortable to type on and the touchpad is absolutely fine. For none development/work/travel, this will make the iPad the only computer I need*. That said, I do in some ways regret not going for the Magic keyboard which has an extra USB-C port and raises the iPad to the perfect level for video meetings.

    * Having taken the time to sort out a photo workflow, video editing and so on.

  8. ukgnome
    Trollface

    Matthew - you have beautiful nails - that is your hand in the picture right?

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