The ZAGGmate keyboard is actually two products rolled into one. You can buy the aircraft-grade aluminum casing for $69.99 on its own, or the case plus the keyboard embedded in it for $99.
ZAGG is the Salt Lake City-based company that brought the world the invisibleSHIELD transparent film that protects gadgets from scratches. The company’s name is an acronym for “Zealous About Great Gadgets.”
I haven’t tried out the other options (yet) but I did spend a day trying out the ZAGGmate and keyboard, and I liked it for everything it tried to accomplish — a comfortable typing experience at the same time as being a compact, lightweight iPad accessory.
On Friday as I left my house, I slipped my iPad — encased in the ZAGGmate case and keyboard — into my Tumi satchel and set out across town to run errands. The keyboard and case only weigh 12.8 ounces, and adds a quarter of an inch to the breadth of the iPad, so it was easy to slide the tablet into the outside pocket of my bag.
After completing the errands, I set myself up in a local coffee shop. I removed my iPad from its sleek aluminium casing, propped it up on the stand above my keyboard and started typing and surfing away. I could feel people staring at the set-up in curiosity.
Prior to the ZAGGmate keyboard, when on the road I was either using a small Sony Vaio laptop with a tiny, uncomfortable keyboard, or I was swiping and prodding the screen on my iPad, and clumsily typing either on the onscreen keyboard, or on a clunky Apple iPad Keyboard Dock.
The ZAGGmate keyboard is smaller than the ThinkPad’s. It’s about the same size as the Vaio’s VGN-TXN laptop’s keyboard, but for some reason, it felt more comfortable to type on than the Sony’s.
Unlike the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock, which awkwardly limits you to using the iPad in portrait mode, the ZAGGMate keyboard allows you to set up the iPad either in portrait or landscape.
All this being said, it appears that the mostly positive experience I had with the ZAGGmate keyboard isn’t universal. My husband tried it, but found it to be too small: He preferred the full-sized keyboard on the ThinkPad.
The ZAGGmate keyboard offers a “Home” button, which brings you to the iPad home screen, a “search” button, which calls up the iPad search screen, a photo slideshow button, play/pause, volume, forward and back buttons for music, and an “international keyboards” button, which allows you to toggle between international keyboards if you’ve installed them.
I did have one confusing experience when I initially tried the product out, and that was with the way the keyboard is charged. The process isn’t explained very clearly in the accompanying set of instructions.
The ZAGGmate keyboard’s power button is on the upper left hand side of the board and once you slide it to “on,” a red “status” light flashes on for a few seconds.
That it doesn’t stay on makes it look as if the keyboard is not charged. After plugging the keyboard into my USB hub for a couple of hours, I tried again. The same thing happened.
It wasn’t until I poked the Bluetooth button with a pen did the keyboard register on the iPad, and I realized that the red “status” button doesn’t have to be on for the keyboard to be functioning.
ZAGG says that the keyboard’s battery can stay charged for a couple of months in standby. The keyboard goes into standby after a few minutes of not being used. Hitting any button wakes it up.
If I were going to buy the ZAGGmate keyboard, I would buy it along with the invisibleSHIELD cover or illustrated ZAGGskin to protect the whole set-up from scratches.
None of this is cheap, however. At $99.99, the ZAGGmate keyboard is almost twice what the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock costs on Amazon.com. And the invisibleSHIELD full body iPad coverage would set me back another $39.99. The fancy artistic skins start at $19.99.
If you’ve got the cash to spare though, it’s cool, and it’s worth it.
The ZAGGmate and keyboard are available online at ZAGG.com, and will ship internationally. Alternatively in the U.S., you can find it at Best Buy stores.
A German version of the keyboard will be available sometime later this year.
Cult of Mac Black Turtleneck rating system:
5: Insanely Great! • 4: Steve Approves • 3: Needs Work • 2: Sugared Water • 1: Dogsh*t frosting
Model: ZAGGmate and keyboard
List Price: $99.99.