I blew out my MacBook Pro power cord last week. It would not have been a big deal for me, except it was – and an expensive one that nearly brought me to my knees with panic. I was in Ethiopia, a country where electricity runs, well, according to the will of the saints and my cord, connected to my computer, got stuck in a power surge.
Apparently, this is modus operandi in Addis Abeba, and I thought I had protected against it by using a surge protector. But it acted like gauze against the continuous ons and offs of energy here and I was just thankful my computer still turned on.
If you try to locate an Apple replacement part in Addis you are chasing a lottery of sorts. These items have to be special ordered, take a month to arrive, and cost double what you would pay in the US.
As I counted my available cash (and no one takes credit cards here) and my reserve of luck, my mind circled on my secondary options. I am a journalist currently on a five-week reporting marathon in Africa and Asia and cannot — simply cannot — be left without a computer.
My available inventory of stuff included an iPhone and an iPad. The panic started to clear when I realized I could make do by using the ZAGGkeys Flex Bluetooth Keyboard I brought with either of those I-devices if it came down to that. The ZAGG with the iPad would work just fine for the interviews I had to do, coupled with the ability to then use available Wifi from somewhere to email the notes to myself for security.
Fortunately I found a power cord solution in Addis somehow, but I take my iPad to interviews now and let the ZAGGkeys steam under my fingers without worrying about power surges or the quickly draining battery life on my aging MacBook Pro.
The keyboard, which usually charges through a USB connection to my computer, easily powers up directly through the wall chargers that come with the iPhone and iPad as well. The keyboard hooks into both devices through Bluetooth and comes with a transposable case that also serves as an iPad holder for viewing while typing.
Because the battery life on my iPad will easily get me through the day, I choose to run with the weight of the Pad and the Zagg, which together burden my shoulders with the heaviness of a large grapefruit and fit neatly into my purse. The Zagg itself weighs about as much as an iPod and is as thick as a packed letter-sized envelope.
Keys on the top row handle such functions as:
- Home: takes you to the home screen
- Search: brings up the device search screen
- Slideshow: starts playing a slideshow of your photos
- Virtual keyboard toggle (iOS only)
- Cut, copy, paste, undo and redo buttons
- Media buttons: Previous track, play/pause, next track, mute, volume up and down
- Lock: makes the screen go dark and turn back on when pressed again (iOS only)