ZAGG sent over a couple of items for us to review a couple weeks ago, and we’ve been steadily working our way through them. When I decided to ditch the MacBook Air to remain strictly portable with an iPad, I knew I would have some trouble getting some typing done. So I really wanted to get my hands on some different keyboards/cases to test out how realistic it is to ditch the laptop for a tablet/keyboard combo.
When using the iPad, you can get a lot done, but a truly comfortable experience might be hard to find. Personally I’ve used the ZAGG/Logitech case for the first gen iPad and I’ll have to see it was definitely a product I’d like to try for the new iPad.
Upon first taking it out of the box I pretty much fell in love with the ZAGGkeyes SOLO. This very lightweight keyboard doubles as a stand for easy and quick set up. The keyboard connects via BlueTooth, which as any other device is incredibly easy to set up. The keyboard does come in 3 different colors, but we were sent for the silver unit with black keys. You have an option for black/black and white/black keys as well. I will admit that the silver/black unit looks a lot nicer and sexier than the other two. At least with the pictures I have seen, the others look a tad on the cheap side in comparison.
The keyboard itself is incredibly light weight and features nothing more than an extremely thin design, keys, built in crevice that is a stand, and then the top area that is filled with one of the greatest batteries I have ever used. I received this device around 3 weeks ago, took it out of the box and it is still kicking. I haven’t even unwrapped the included USB charging cable. I’m not sure if the device came fully charged but I swear to God this thing has to run off sweat and furious typing, as it won’t die. ZAGG does claim that the device will last several months on a full charge with normal use, and I’ll have to say they are probably spot on with this assessment.
As far as portability, yes, you can take it anywhere because of the slick compact design, but I would have to say using it while “on-the-go” proved to be troublesome. If you were using the ZAGGfolio, use while sitting on public transportation would definitely be doable. But since the ZAGGkeys SOLO only doubles as a stand, I wouldn’t recommend it. I attempted to use this once while on the light-rail, I felt like the iPad was going to fall off my lap.
Which brings me to one of the biggest complaints I had with the unit. The SOLO is very light weight, and since the iPad is much heavier, I really never had the comfort in knowing my iPad was never in danger, especially when in portrait mode. Planted firm at a desk was a little bit more reassuring, but never again will I attempt using it on my lap. But since the ZAGGfolio utilizes the same set up, but in a built in folio, I would guess that unit would prove be a lot more successful. But planted firm at a desk in landscape mode I never felt it move, which is how I decided to do all my typing moving forward. But if you have a flat pair of legs, and utilize the landscape orientation, lap typing might not be an issue for you.
The SOLO can be used with all iDevices, as well as Android tablets and smartphones. There are dedicated keys on the device for use with the Android OS. I really do wish there were a few more dedicated iOS keys. We are given a Home screen function key, as well as a dedicated iOS Search key. We also have a slideshow key for your photos, a key that will bring up the on screen keyboard, your normal play/pause, FF and rewind keys, set of volume/mute keys and finishing it off is a dedicated Lock key. These come in useful when using the iPad at a desk, a flick of the button will give you access to your locked iPad. All in all, nice shortcut keys line the top row.
Typing on the SOLO proved to be decently comfortable. It is a thin design that is very compact. When I first saw the SOLO in person, I was worried how it would feel to type after long periods of time. The keys are a lot smaller than the average, but this allows for a decent amount of space in between them. I think the compact design isn’t an issue because of this. I rarely had an issue with hitting two keys at once, which was one of my biggest fears. I pride myself in being a quick typer, and I loved the fact that the SOLO didn’t hinder this. What was also nice is the bottom of the keyboard has four rubber non-slip feet that really helped accurate and quick typing.
All-in-all, the SOLO was an incredible accessory to the iPad. If I was to use just a keyboard instead of an entire case/keyboard combo, I was leaning towards another Apple keyboard. But the slick and tiny design of the ZAGGkeys SOLO proved to be a far better decision. This is the piece that is in the ZAGGfolio, so as far as the keyboard portion of that, I know that the folio will probably be a win too. Minus few more shortcut keys for iOS, there really isn’t anything else I could ask for from ZAGG.
Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 9/10
First off, Installation was actually pretty easy. As long as you give yourself some ample time and have some patience. I have installed Invisible Shield on my iPhones in the past, so I knew what I was in store for. The back went surprisingly well, although this took the most amount of time. The front is where I unfortunately had most of my issues.
The skin seemed somewhat off in size. The film didn’t fit the entire width of my iPad, which wasn’t a huge deal, but still worth mentioning. The biggest issue I saw with the front piece was the top and bottom alignment. It seemed the cut outs for the camera and the Home Button weren’t cut perfectly. And while digging online, I saw this in numerous other outlets. I couldn’t get a perfect alignment over the Home Button without covering up part of the camera, or vice versa. I fought through getting the perfect fit for too long and ended up with an imperfect application. I had some particles that made their way under the skin because I was too OCD with the application. But finally got something that didn’t cover up the Home Button and was far enough away from the lens that you can’t see the film in pictures.
I’ve used many different brands of screen protectors on my devices in the past, but this is the first one I have used on an iPad. I honestly am not sure if I am a fan of it after using ZAGG’s Invisible Shield. First off, the thing is more of a fingerprint and scum magnet than the iPad is without the skin on. I know the screen hoards fingerprints like nothing else, but with this skin on, it actually looks gross. And everything from lint, to crumbs, to small animals gets stuck to this thing now. It’s nice on the back, as it makes holding it a little less dangerous, but the screen is almost ugly. And the Retina display shouldn’t be ugly. Secondly, you can’t easily slide and swipe as you normally would on an Apple mobile device. I’ve used many different brands on my iPhone and never noticed an issue. But using this on such a large display proved to be irritating at best. My finger kept stubbing across the canvas and was just a bummer to use. But if you are willing to sacrifice 100% usability for incredible protection, then disregard this.
Speaking of ugly, if you own the 3rd generation iPad, fork over the extra dough for the HD skin. I was sent the iPad 2 version that is compatible with the new iPad and it really brings down the Retina display. It doesn’t do it all that much, but it is noticeable. The HD coverage would be the way to go to enjoy the sharp images that the Retina display has to offer.
Another issue I had, was using the Invisible Shield with the the SOLO. When resting the iPad in the built in stand, I would notice a line dented into the skin, and sometimes it seemed that it bunched up the corners. As you can see in the pictures, this isn’t the sexiest look to be resting on my iPad. I will admit that after some time it does go away, and there really isn’t any hint of it being there. This is obviously the self-healing at work, which is nice. But it is just odd that ZAGG would make two devices that are somewhat troublesome together.
Over all, the skin was great for the rear of my iPad. It obviously struggles when popping it into complete cases that have a cradle for the iPad, but if you want your iPad to go naked, the ZAGG Invisible Shield for the back is incredible. This highly durable material is hands down some of the best protection you can have without hiding the pure beauty that is the iPad.
The front was an issue for me. I am going to request different pieces from different companies to see if we can find something that will offer great protection as ZAGG gives, but without sacrificing greatness.
ZAGG makes a great product, but if I just dropped $499+ on a beautiful screen, I feel what I just used makes it worth a whole lot less. The back is superior protection. This stuff is so durable and tough I don’t think twice about what is set on my iPad, or what might gouge at it. I highly recommend this for rear protection. But I do want a viewing experience that is not compromised, and this is not that. ZAGG offers a crud ton of products, and they definitely need to be at the top of protection for all mobile devices. I just felt I didn’t get the experience I wanted when using this product. The score is averaged out because the back is incredible and really drives it home for me. The front still offers top-notch protection, but the viewing experience with the feel of it on the front left me wanting more. But the healing nature of the skin is quite incredible, as those marks you see in the pictures are 100% gone.
Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 7/10
Thanks to ZAGG for sending over the review units!