There’s nothing like taking your iPad on the road, removing this thin, lightweight device from your totes and starting to scroll – on a mountaintop, in a bistro, on the bus. Chances are you are not doing this with your computer, unless your computer is 7.6 inches and weighs less than a grapefruit.
But the minute you start to use that item for more than a screen – say you want to type a long post to your Facebook page or send in a comment to the New York Times – you’re cooked. Poking out a post or article from a pop-up, onscreen keyboard does little more than cause frustration and spell-check malaprops. You are back to remembering that an iPad is just an iPad, and isn’t it too bad that it is not the computer you need at that moment.
Enter ZaggKeys Folio. It’s a clamshell keyboard that pretty much makes the morphing happen. The item is the latest from Zagg, the Utah-based company that put exterior, device-paired keyboards on the map. The new ZaggKeys Folio is the latest iteration of what is quickly becoming the standard in iPad must-have travel accessories. It’s a completely protective case into which your iPad fits bearing a connected cover, a hefty hinge, and a standard QWERTY keyboard that accommodates both hands and completely bannishes the act of word poking.
It opens and closes like a regular laptop, shutting down when closed and opening onto the last open page when re-opened. It is as thin as a pencil, as hard as a tooth, and comes in seven colors. It protects your iPad from just about any harm, save throwing it into a lake or running over it with your car and fits just as easily into your purse or bag as a naked iPad — or very large wallet.
The ZaggKeys Folio is paired with the new iPad Air. There are other Zagg cases that make the iPad 2, Mini and other tablets into writing tools as well, but this is the first enclosed case created by the company and, since its debut last spring and boosted debut during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January, the new case is giving other tablet cases out there something to be concerned about.
For starters, the case is sleek and good-looking and adds a slight dose of status to the glamour-loving iPad line. It’s made of a durable and lightweight polyurethane material, has a soft leathery finish meant to feel like suede and comes in white, blue, turquoise, green, yellow, red and purple. Oddly, it takes those hues into the interiors and allows you to customize your backlit keypad colors with the same selections. Or you can choose no backlighting at all.
The all-important typing keys are automatically paired with the iPad device through Bluetooth, and they stay paired – no rolling dials and waiting before you type. The Chiclet-sized keys offer a good feel for any hand and there are no surprises here. The W is where it should be, the comma as well, a long space bar keeps thumbs comfortable, top row of function keys act as they would on any other computer keyboard and the backlighting of keys (which can be amplified and lowered) allows typing in any light or no light at all.
Side buttons on the exterior of the case allow for Bluetooth pairing, on/off, volume control, headphone input. There’s a space for the iPad camera lens and two inputs for charging – one for the iPad itself and the other for the case. The case, however, puts itself to sleep when out of use and rarely needs charging. This author had the case for a month before realizing that charging the iPad was not the same as charging the case — and the case still had more than 50 percent of its battery life left. Its on-page specs maintain the case can go for three months between charges.
Bt the real joy of this case is the convenience. The screen hinge that holds the iPad cover allows for 135-degree angling, and for those who like to watch Neflix movies in bed or need to type notes in an economy seat on a plane, every degree counts. Also, you know the screen will maintain its angle and not tip over or keep requiring adjustment, as anyone who uses those faux-leather folding cases for iPad must manage.
On the downside, it has weight: 18.87 ounces and that more than doubles the weight of the iPad Air itself. But given that any case properly protecting this device will have weight — and the weight of the ZaggKeys Folio comes a fount of functionality — it’s a trade off that most of us can bear.
For travel, it basically does away with the need to bring a laptop. Unless you are designing with heavy graphics or need to dip in extensively to your laptop computer files, the iPad does the job and with a fully functioning keyboard for those great Instagrams and funny road-warrior posts. All one needs during one’s precious time away is a protected iPad with keyboard and some trusted plugs for recharging.
The ZaggKeys Folio is for the iPad Air. Similar items from Zagg exist for the iPad Mini and now the Samsung Galaxy. Price point is $99. Amazon.com offers a range of product and pricing for this brand.
Note: This author is not a Zagg affiliate or receiving any remuneration from Zagg. Just a Zagg fan — for they have been filling a very important need these years for writers who travel.