A few months ago, I reviewed the ZAGGfolio keyboard case for iPad, which changed the way I think about iPad keyboards – I learned that typing on an iPad can be a fantastic experience with the right equipment. ZAGG has just released a new killer keyboard that aims to change the game all over again: The ZAGGkeys PROplus for iPad ($129.99, link).
With the ZAGGkeys PROplus, ZAGG has combined the best elements from their previous keyboards, and has produced what might be the most impressive mobile keyboard of all time – a thin, beautiful, and extremely durable creation precisely crafted out of aircraft-grade aluminum.
Every now and then, I come across a product that manages to lure me in at first glance – before I even get a chance to dig in and use it. Such is the case with the PROplus. Every aspect of both the keyboard itself, and even the packaging, give the impression of a premium, professional product.
After sliding the keyboard from its incredibly thin, minimal packaging, my initial impression only grew stronger as I felt the cold anodized aluminum surface against my fingers. The surface of the keyboard is perfectly smooth, and weighing the keyboard in my hands revealed a satisfying heft that speaks to the overall quality of the device.
A close visual once-over revealed a level of design precision that is so rare in most products I see on shelves today. The ZAGGkeys PROplus is practically seamless – you have to examine the device pretty closely to tell that there are actually any seams at all.
The keys are made of the same sort of hardened plastic used on an Apple Wireless Keyboard, and the combination of the black keys against the polished aluminum gives the PROplus a look very similar to a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air. ZAGG has clearly taken a leaf out of Apple’s design book, which makes their keyboard and the iPad seem like two halves of a whole.
It gives off the impression of being a single precision-milled piece of aluminum, much like the iPad, or a MacBook Pro. It’s apparent from every angle that ZAGG put an extreme amount of attention into every single detail. It’s as much a work of art as it is a work of engineering.
As crucial as look and feel are to a premium product, they can only carry half of the weight. An attractive and precise design are useless if they aren’t met with an equally high standard of performance. So how does the PROplus’ function hold up against its form? Very, very well.
The keyboard itself is slightly smaller than an Apple Wireless Keyboard, which would lead you to believe that it might be cramped. Surprisingly, it doesn’t actually feel cramped at all. In fact, I typed this entire review on the ZAGGkeys PROplus, and the somewhat reduced size was hardly noticeable. I might as well have been typing on my Mac.
The keys have a firm, somewhat clicky feel. They aren’t the least bit mushy or weak – in fact, the action on the ZAGG keyboard feels even better than my Apple Wireless Keyboard. ZAGG’s attention to detail obviously extends far beyond the physical appearance of the device. They’ve packed a serious high-performance mobile keyboard inside the frame as well.
Like all of ZAGG’s keyboards, the PROplus includes several function keys that make it easier to use with your iPad, including a home key (which mimics the iPad home button), cut, copy, and paste function keys, and media playback keys. But beyond that, the ZAGGkeys PROplus includes one additional key that I’ve never seen before on a portable keyboard: A backlight key!
For the first time ever in a ZAGG keyboard (in fact, maybe the first time in any keyboard this portable), they’ve managed to pack in a three-stage backlight. Three different levels of brightness, which you can toggle between by pressing the backlight key. This makes the keyboard much more useful while traveling, as it can adapt more easily to dimly lit environments than a typical portable keyboard.
Finally, the ZAGGkeys PROplus experience is completed by the inclusion of a secure divot that holds the iPad at an ideal typing angle in either portrait or landscape. All in all, I was extremely pleased with both the comfort and performance of the keyboard. Absolutely top notch. It even includes a caps lock indicator light – the only real complaint I had against the keyboard in the ZAGGfolio!
Performance and Usability
The ZAGGkeys PROplus provides an excellent out-of-box experience. It comes fully charged, and includes one-touch pairing – just tap the pairing button, select the keyboard in your iPad’s Bluetooth preferences, and you’re done. It takes less than a minute.
Just as impressive as its ease of use is the battery life. ZAGG claims that the ZAGGkeys PROplus will last “months” on a single charge, even with the backlight. I’ve been using mine extensively for about two weeks, with the backlight on its brightest setting, and it’s still going strong. I haven’t charged it a single time since removing it from the box.
Between comfort, performance, and ease of use, the ZAGGkeys PROplus might be one of the most truly “usable” mobile keyboards ever created.
ZAGG has packed a fantastic keyboard into a beautiful precision-crafted aluminum case. If I were to stop at this point, and go no further in describing the ZAGGkeys PROplus experience, most of you would probably be satisfied. If I were buying such a product, I would be satisfied – but as any television infomercial pitchman might say: “But wait, there’s more!”
Besides the excellent keyboard and remarkable build quality and design, ZAGG has also incorporated magnets into the keyboard. Because the keyboard is designed to fit very precisely around the front of the iPad the magnets secure hold the keyboard to the face of the iPad, allowing the ZAGGkeys PROplus to double as a protective case for the front of your device.
The magnets are strong enough that the keyboard and the iPad will not easily separate unless you pull them apart yourself. And, as with other magnetic covers, such as Apple’s Smart Cover, the magnetic closure also puts your iPad to sleep, so you won’t drain your battery.
Once united, the magnetically-fused iPad and keyboard look absolutely natural against one another – they complete each other, forming a singular mass of beautiful, precision-crafted aluminum. Two halves of a whole.
All of these elements combined add up to what may be the best overall iPad accessory I’ve ever had the opportunity to use – and one of the best review experiences I have ever had.
ZAGG has developed a strong reputation for making great iPad keyboards, and with the ZAGGkeys PROplus, they’ve outdone themselves once again. It’s extremely rare that I ever give a product a full 5 out of 5 stars – it’s also extremely rare that I ever encounter a product so complete in every detail as the ZAGGkeys PROplus.
For its unparalleled design, usefulness, protection, and overall exceptional product experience, I highly recommend the ZAGGkeys PROplus to anyone and everyone looking for a great keyboard for the iPad 2 or later, and recognize it with a MacTrast Editor’s Choice Award.
The ZAGGkeys PROplus is available now for $129.99, with free U.S. shipping. A separate version without a backlight, the ZAGGkeys PRO, is available for $99.99. For more information, and to sign up to be informed as soon as the ZAGGkeys PRO and PROplus are available for purchase, head on over to ZAGG.com.
- Solid, well-built and durable – very precise, detail-oriented design.
- Matches the aesthetics of the iPad.
- Excellent keyboard – feels great under the fingers.
- Includes a three-level backlight!
- Excellent battery life (even with the backlight on).
- Secure magnetic closure to protect iPad’s display.
- Keyboard can feel a bit cramped to users with large hands.
- Doesn’t include protection for the back of the iPad.