Sometime ago, I’d reviewed a keyboard/case combo from ZAGG – the ZAGGmate – for my iPad 1. Thanks to its slick and slim design, along with the capable bluetooth keyboard, it became a constant companion whenever I traveled with the iPad. The one downside was that the tablet’s back was left exposed to potential drops and falls – a trade-off for its sexy form factor. So as an alternative, ZAGG introduced the ZAGGfolio, a folio-styled case that not only houses a much improved keyboard, but also offers front and rear protection for the iPad when closed.
Seeing how I’d become quite reliant on the ZAGGmate, I was eager to pick up a case with similar functionality for my new iPad. And now that I’ve had 3 weeks of hands-on time with the ZAGGfolio, I’ve once again found myself growing very fond of this combo case, thanks in large part to the drastically improved typing experience offered over its predecessor.
Design and specs
The ZaggFolio is essentially a hard-shell wrapped in either authentic leather ($129) or polyurethane ($99), lined with a soft microfiber lining. The “skin” comes in a variety of colors: 3 for the leather and 7 wide range of colors for the polyurethane. As for the keyboard, you can choose from silver, black or white. One side of the folio case houses the wireless bluetooth keyboard, while the other has room for the iPad to slide into. Here are its official dimensions and weight:
SIZE & WEIGHT
- Weight: 19 ounces (539 grams)
- Keyboard only: 11.5 ounces (326 grams)
- Folio only: 7.5 ounces (213 grams)
- Length: 9.75 inches (247 mm)
- Width: 7.625 inches (193 mm)
- Depth: .9 inches (23 mm)
Installing the iPad is as easy as sliding it into the groove that’s approximately 3 inches deep, and once completely in, you won’t have to worry about your precious tablet accidentally slipping out. When the case is closed, it’s designed so that the screen doesn’t touch the keys on the keyboard, a big plus for those who don’t plan on using a screen protector (like ZAGG’s invisbleShield). The only areas that do come in contact with the Retina display are 3 rubberized protectors strategically placed on the keyboard: two that act as hinge-like cushions at the top and a long horizontal strip found just above the top most row of keys.
A simple latch mechanism keeps the folio case securely closed. Once snapped properly into place, it does a good job of staying closed, though I have found that at times you have to manually push the latch further in for a complete lock and seal.
The back side of the case is made to fold inward, so when opened, the iPad can rest right into the keyboard’s horizontal docking area. There’s only one viewing angle available, but it’s comfortable for the most part (essentially the same angle as ZAGGmate).
And as you’d expect, the case has all the cutaways precisely made for all the iPad components – dock connector, rear camera, sleep button, headphone jack and bottom right speaker.
Keyboard Overview and Features
The ZAGGfolio’s keyboard is nearly the same size as that of the ZAGGmate, though it’s been completely redesigned to make better use of the limited real estate. As a result, the keys are all evenly spaced out and even the up/down/left/right arrow keys found at the bottom right corner are identical in layout as the Apple Wireless Keyboard (the same can’t be said with the ZAGGmate). Special function keys are also built in and they work specifically with the iPad. Some of them include “Home”, volume controls, cut/copy/paste and sleep/unlock. Here’s the full list of these handy function keys:
By far, the function key I use most is Home, located at the top left corner of the keyboard. When working on documents/articles, I can quickly exit an app with a single press of the key, or double tap it to bring up the multitasking tray to easily switch between apps – all the while keeping my hands on the keyboard and not having to reach for the actual home button on the iPad.
Using the ZAGGfolio
The ZAGGfolio is quite versatile, allowing for 3 different ways to make use of the case and keyboard. The first and most obvious is to simply prop the iPad up and into the keyboard’s horizontal groove/slot. This lets users jump right into their work after opening the case. The other way is to remove the keyboard from the case (simply slide it out), while leaving the iPad in its place (the case is designed so that the iPad can still be propped up even without the keyboard). As such, you can now type with the screen further back if you wish, allowing for much more freedom with regards to where the keyboard sits on your working area. Finally, the last method involves removing both the iPad and keyboard from the case and using them in a “standalone” mode. This is great for times when you’d like the option of being able to pick up the iPad (sans case and keyboard) for casual use on the couch or bed, and just as quickly place it back in the keyboard to resume your work.
The ZAGGfolio can technically be used like any other folio-style case with the keyboard removed, but it’s not something I’d recommend. When closed, the case feels awkward due to the extra space created from the missing keyboard. And when open, there’s no real comfortable way of holding the iPad. To be fair, it was probably never designed nor intended for such use.
One of the highlights of the ZaggFolio is without a doubt its keyboard. Unlike the ZAGGmate (where its keys are bunched up right next to one another), typing with the ZAGGfolio feels like you’re using a quality laptop thanks to its responsive and spacious keys. It’s well made, has a premium feel to it and I’d even go so far as to say that it’s right up there as one of the best portable keyboards I’ve used to date. Needless to say, I’ve found that typing with this bluetooth keyboard is much, much faster (and with significantly less mistakes) than that of the virtual keyboard on the iPad.
The external keyboard comes with a 510 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery that’s supposed to last up to several months on a full charge, which is quite impressive. I haven’t had it that long to test out the claim, but I’ve been using the keyboard quite heavily over the past several weeks and have yet to charge it. To help conserve power, there’s an on/off switch so you can completely turn it off whenever it’s not in use. And included is a micro USB cable for charging the keyboard.
Is it for you?
Retailing for $99, the ZAGGfolio isn’t exactly a budget accessory for your iPad. You can buy cases and even individual bluetooth keyboards for much cheaper, though not many come integrated into one package that is as capable and versatile. For those who are constantly on the road and/or use the iPad primarily for work (i.e writing reports and creating spreadsheets), the ZAGGfolio makes for a great travel companion and will undoubtedly give users a boost in productivity. Once you’ve used a keyboard-case combo, it’s quite difficult going back to the ways of carrying both separately (at least for me anyway).
But for iPad users who don’t wish to ditch their Smart Cover/favorite case and aren’t all that concerned with having an all-in-one product, ZAGG also offers the keyboard on its own – the ZAGGkeys SOLO ($69.99). For an extra $10, the ZAGGkeys Flex ($79.99) features a similar but more compact keyboard that includes a nifty keyboard case/stand.
It’s not all perfect of course. There’s only one viewing angle available, the case is basically a hard plastic shell wrapped in a leather or polyurethane skin and there’s no comfortable way of holding the iPad while its in the case for reading/surfing/gaming etc. But these are things I can live with, especially when you consider that it does what it was primarily intended for (typing) very well.
As I’d said in my review of the New iPad, I’ve finally been able to leave my MacBook at home when I’m on the road and solely rely on the latest Apple tablet. And to now be able to use it with the ZAGGfolio has made things even easier for me, especially with all the travelling I have to do for my other job. Seeing how I’d come to love the ZAGGmate, I definitely appreciate the fact that the ZAGGfolio protects not just the screen, but the entire iPad as well. With regards to what essentially is its most crucial element, the keyboard is the star of the show. To top it off, the fact that it can be used in a variety of ways should make it even more appealing to those want to get more done on their iPad. If you’re in the market for a bluetooth keyboard for your iPad and want the added convenience of an integrated case, the ZAGGfolio is a fine choice.
|Product:||ZAGGFolio Keyboard Case for new iPad||Manufacturer:||ZAGG|