Rating: ★★★★½

Pros:

  • Rechargeable battery that lasts for “months”
  • Case and keyboard in one with a matching iPad finish
  • Shortcut keys works in almost any application
  • Light weight

Cons:

  • Slight imperfections in lining and metal edges
  • LED lights bleed light
  • Micro USB port not the most universal; mini USB preferred

UPDATED.  Everyone knows that taking notes and responding to lengthy emails on the iPad is near to impossible.  Fortunately, Apple had the foresight to allow Bluetooth keyboards to be connected to the device.  Before the Zaggmate Case there were already a handful of cases announced and available for purchase with a built-in Bluetooth keyboards, but as far as I’m concerned none have produced it in such a slick and svelte fashion.

The case is crafted of Aircraft-grade aluminum and yes, like the Zagg website says it does match the iPad’s finish.  In fact, even the grains in the metal look almost identical, so much so it would be hard to distinguish between the two if it weren’t for the Apple icon.

Micro USB charging port

Included in the box is a micro USB cord and 4 rubber feet if you want prevent the Zaggmate from touching a surface and potentially suffering a scratch.  I was a little disappointed that they choose to use micro USB since more device’s uses mini USB, and in the event that you lose your cord they (micro USB cords) can be a bit tougher to come by.  The battery, which Zagg says is good for months of use on a single charge and goes into a standby mode after none use, is built into the device.  It’s not user replaceable and without ripping the device apart I really have no clue where it is.

Bluetooth pairing button, power switch and LED lights

The Zaggmate arrived, as far as I could tell completely uncharged.  Since it only includes a micro USB cord I used my iPhone’s charger to power it up.    There are 2 LED lights: a charging light and a status light.  The charging light is self explanatory, where as the status light took some investigating,  According to the instructions the status light flashes when the battery is low and when you’re attempting to pair it with a Bluetooth device.  The LED lights are adjacent to one and other.  As a result the light from one and other tends to bleed into the other making it a tad confusing as to which one is illuminated.  When you power on the device the status LED illuminates for about 4 seconds to indicate that it is in fact powered on then turns off to save on battery.  As far as I can tell there is no way to tell when the Zaggmate’s battery is completely charged or how long it takes to charge.

Foldable stand is a flimsy piece of plastic

The keyboard itself, while very responsive is cramped.  I was hard pressed to complete a sentence without an error, but I’ve only used the Zaggmate for 4 days, so perhaps after 13 hours on my Xmas flight I’ll be singing (or in this case writing) a different tune.  But for those with large hands, be ware, it’s not a full sized keyboard.  With that said it’s a vast improvement over the iPad’s virtual keyboard and as as expected it should be cramped given the iPad’s diminutive size.

Lining and metal imperfections

The case is lined with padding which provides a snug fit for the iPad and prevents it from falling out.  I could turn the iPad upside down without it slipping out, but I wouldn’t recommend carrying it this way since there is not strap that keeps it absolutely secure.

While there were no problems with the actual lining, I did notice that the edges of the case were a bit unfinished and uneven.  The corner, where the case is recessed (see above pic) on one side for easy removal, suffered from an ever so slight excess in padding that spilled over the top.  All in all, though, the case is solid, it’s just not quite as finished as I hoped.

Pairing the Zaggmate requires you to push a recessed Bluetooth button – you’ll need a pen or paper clip.  Once pushed the iPad immediatedly prompted me to enter a 4 digit pin into the Zaggmate and hit enter.  And like that I was paired and ready to type using the Bluetooth keyboard.  Zagg has included a handful of shortcut keys, such as the ability to lock the device, search the iPad’s contents and bring up the virtual keyboard when applicable.  There are also a set of media keys which will start/stop or skip tunes as well as adjust the iPad’s volume.  There is a ‘globe’ key in the top right corner.  I thought this would be a short cut to Safari, but it does nothing.  I tried pairing the Zaggmate with my iPhone and had no problems.  But, as I soon discovered, I was unable to reconnect with my iPad.  It would appear that the Zaggmate can only pair with one device.  As a result I was required to ‘re-pair’ my iPad with the Zaggmate, which meant pushing the Bluetooth button again and entering a passcode.

Recessed side makes the iPad a bit easier to remove from the Zaggmate

The Zaggmate case with Bluetooth keyboard is slick, sexy and functional.  It matches the facade of Apple’s iPad and while it suffers from a few minor imperfections in the finish I couldn’t be more pleased with it.  The jury is still out on battery life, but if Zagg is to be believed you should get months of use for time to come.

Update: David from Zagg reached after I published my review and pointed out a few things that are affirmations as well as insights:

  • The battery is twice as big as most Bluetooth keyboards, so it will only need to be charged a few times a year
  • According to Zagg micro USB is supposed to be more common place than mini USB – this is not what I’ve seen in recent.
  • The pairing issue I discussed is actually a feature and presents the keyboard from controlling the multiple devices, though in my opinion you should be able to be paired just not CONNECTED at the same time
  • The size of the keyboard is exactly the same size as a 10″ netbook
  • The iPad software doesn’t allow a hotkey for any apps, including safari.
  • The globe on the upper right is for changing languages if you have that set up in the settings on your iPad.
  • They keep improving the overall fit and finish each day.

You can buy the Zaggmate with keyboard for $99.99 at Zagg’s website.  They’ve also got a non-keyboard version for $69.99. I wouldn’t bother with the latter, though.



Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."