I use my iPad a lot, and while I love it for many purposes, there’s one thing in particular that it doesn’t do well at all: text input. Typing on the iPad in any significant volume is a terrible experience. As such, it’s necessary for many people, including me, to pair their iPad with an external keyboard.
There’s no shortage of keyboards and keyboard cases out there for Apple’s popular tablet, but which keyboard should you choose? ZAGG thinks they’ve got just the thing: The ZAGGfolio for iPad ($99.99, link) - a double-duty fusion of an extremely thin and light Bluetooth keyboard and a protective case.
But does it really make sense to integrate a keyboard with an iPad case? Does the ZAGGfolio really deliver? We’ll put it through it’s paces and find out!
From the moment I removed the ZAGGfolio from its box, I was impressed. The case looks fantastic! I received both a carbon fiber textured shell and a leather shell for the ZAGGfolio, and neither one disappointed. The case has a great texture and a solid heft, and feels extremely tough will also feeling very comfortable to handle.
While the case is quite tough and appealing to look at and handle, however, it does add a significant amount of thickness to the iPad. When close, the case is about 2.5cm thick. By comparison, Apple’s new iPad comes in at just under 1cm thick, meaning that the case will more than double the thickness of your iPad.
Despite its thickness, however, the case does offer a solid amount of protection for the iPad, including a soft lining to prevent your iPad from getting scratched up. The iPad does fit rather snugly into the case, but considering that it remains very easy to insert and remove the iPad, I consider that to be a good thing,
Another aspect of the case that I particularly appreciated is that it is designed to fit intelligently around the iPad’s buttons and ports - you can remove the iPad from the case without removing the headphones! The same is not true of most iPad cases.
But of course, the case itself is only half the story. Equally important is the cargo that it carries: the ZAGGkeys Solo Keyboard!
While the case is fairly nice, The keyboard is what makes the ZAGGfolio really shine. The keyboard is both smaller and narrower than the Apple Wireless Keyboard or the keyboard on your MacBook, but it nevertheless manages to be quite comfortable to use. I found that I adapted fairly quickly.
The keys have a solid and slightly clicky feel. I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the keys felt under my fingers, and how good they felt to type on. I actually prefer the action of the keys to my Apple Wireless keyboard, which I have been satisfied with for quite some time.
Across the top of the keyboard are a number of iPad-specific function keys, including a home key (which works like your iPad’s home button), cut, copy, and paste keys, a search/spotlight key, music playback keys, and a lock/unlock key. There’s also a command key next to the space bar, so you can use many of the commands you’re used to on your Mac. In many ways, I found the function keys to be the most useful feature of the keyboard, especially the home key.
All things considered, I felt that the comfort, usability, and performance of the ZAGGfolio’s keyboard was the best of any portable keyboard I have ever used (portable meaning smaller than the Apple Wireless Keyboard). In fact, I am using the keyboard even now to type this review – I actually like lt better than Apple’s own keyboard, at least for the iPad.
Unfortunately, the iPad isn’t really optimized for keyboarding, so many essential functions of a keyboard just don’t work with the iPad, such as using the tab key to move between fields when entering data or filling out web forms.
The only legitimate complaint I have about the keyboard itself is that the caps lock key does not have an indicator light.
While the keyboard and the folio case each stand on their own merits, the complete ZAGGfolio experience involves using them together. With the case tucked snugly into the base, and your iPad secured into the top section, the ZAGGfolio resembles a netbook. In fact, I’d say it looks a great deal more attractive than many netbooks I’ve seen for sale.
Aesthetically speaking, I also feel that the combination of the case, keyboard, and iPad completes the visual experience of the ZAGGfolio – they look really nice together! But the combination of case and keyboard is about more than aesthetics.
The folio case also makes it much easier and more convenient to carry both the keyboard and your iPad from place to place, while being able to open the setup and begin typing and a moments notice. It’s also worth noting that the folio case enables you to use the keyboard while on your lap, whereas using the keyboard without your case pretty much requires a flat, stable surface.
The case is excellent, the keyboard is excellent, and when you put the two together they compliment each other extremely well. The complete experience of using the ZAGGfolio is extremely natural – I found myself wanting to touch the screen on my MacBook after using the ZAGGfolio for any length of time.
- Pairing & Battery Life
One of the most critical parts of the experience in using any setup like the ZAGGfolio – or any iPad keyboard at all – is how easy it is to set up and use, and how well the battery life holds up. Fortunately, the ZAGGfolio excels in both of these areas.
The top of the keyboard houses a small physical on/off switch, as well as a pairing button to activate Bluetooth and pair the keyboard for the first time. Pairing was extremely simple. I turned on the keyboard, pressed the pairing button, found the keyboard in my iPad’s Bluetooth settings, typed in a four-digit pairing code, and I was done. The whole process takes less than a minute.
As for battery life, ZAGG claims that the battery will last several weeks with normal use. I find that to be extremely believable. I did not fully charge the keyboard before using it – I just took it out of the box and got started. I used the ZAGGfolio for over two weeks, under rather heavy use, and never needed to charge it at all.
If you do any significant amount of typing on your iPad, you owe it to yourself to give the ZAGGfolio a try – or at the very least take the ZAGGkeys Solo keyboard for a spin. You won’t regret it.
Rating & Conclusion
The ZAGGfolio does everything ZAGG claims it should, and does it quite well. I can think of only a small handful of ways in which it could be improved. As such, I award the ZAGGfolio for iPad a full 5 out of 5 stars. It’s quite simply one of the nicest iPad accessories I have ever used.
ZAGG’s solution isn’t exactly cheap – but considering the quality of the product, it’s certainly not overpriced either. The ZAGGfolio is available for $99.99 for either iPad 2 or the 3rd-gen iPad, and the components can also be purchased separately: the keyboard alone (ZAGGkeys Solo) is $69.99, and the case alone is available for $29.99.
For more information, or to purchase, head on over to ZAGG’s website.
- Solid, well-built and durable.
- Matches the aesthetics of the iPad.
- Excellent keyboard – feels great under the fingers.
- Excellent battery life.
- Affordably priced, especially given the quality.
- Keyboard can feel a bit cramped.
- Removing the keyboard from the case and re-inserting it can be challenging.
- Very snug fit against the iPad (which is kind of a good thing, but still somewhat worrisome).
- More than twice as thick as the iPad.
- Adds significant weight to the iPad.