Many months ago I decided that I really didn’t need my MacBook Air any more. I had a beasty iMac at home, and really had no reason for on-the-go typing. I had an iPhone which took care of anything I really would do while out and about, so the thought of keeping the Air didn’t make much sense. So I decided I would sell the MacBook Air and set out to get a 4G capable iPad. The iPad would serve as the go to device for something that was too big for my iPhone. Once the iPad arrived, I did find myself at certain points needing a keyboard. It wasn’t something I needed all the time, but there were some times I found myself needing a quicker and more comfortable way to type. If you remember a while back I had the chance to review the ZAGGkeys SOLO, and it was great at a stationary position. It was perfect for needing type longer posts/emails while sitting down at a desk.
But my daily commute involves around an hour trip each way on a light rail here in Portland. There are times when I want to get some work done, and for someone that no longer has a laptop, I wanted the ability – mind you, this is on the occasion I need it, this isn’t to replace the Air – to use a bluetooth keyboard whenever the iPad wasn’t going to cut it.
In early September we saw a press release for a new ZAGG keyboard that doubled as a case and featured backlit keys. My jaw immediately hit the floor, one of the best things about the 2011 Air was having the backlit keys back! So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been heavily testing this new edition to the ZAGG family to see if this latest attempt can stack up agains the flooded bluetooth keyboard market.
As with the ZAGGkeys I reviewed a couple months ago, the design is pretty simple. Visually, the ZAGGkeys PROplus is a lot sexier with the slim aluminum design. The rounded corners sit perfectly with the iPad and it actually looks like they were meant for each other. Nothing but a small ZAGG logo on the back and a notch for the headphone jack and a USB charging port are found on the outside of this case. Every time I had my iPad attached to this case I was impressed on how well they looked together. I honestly haven’t seen a better keyboard/case to pair with the iPad 2/3. Magnets inside of the case keep the iPad snug and secure. There doesn’t seem like much room for the iPad to stay secure, but I never had an issue with it coming apart.
The inside is where this keyboard really shines – literally. MacBook style keys grace the underbelly of this keyboard/case. The keys on this are actually quite large considering how thin the case actually is. They are damn near the size of the keys I’m typing on now with my Bluetooth Apple keyboard. I’m surprised they are able to fit these sized keys in such a compact design. The layout is actually quite comfortable. The shift, enter, caps lock and space bar are almost full sized, and the rest of them are about there as well. I’ve used a handful of bluetooth keyboards, including a past ZAGG effort, and I really have to put this out there; the PROplus makes almost every other keyboard I’ve used feel cheap and poorly made. The keys don’t have a lot of wiggle and give, they press down with a purpose, and that goes a long way.
The top row of keys gives you the ‘Home/Multi-tasking’ button, as well as the Search screen and slideshow buttons. You also have the cut/copy/paste, Play/Pause/Rewind/FF and volume keys, along with an iPad lock key. The rest are pretty standard, except for your battery indicator, which by pressing you are given a specific flashing color letting you know the state of the battery. A button that controls the backlit keys, giving you a no backlight, then low, medium and bright settings. You also have almost a full sized set of arrow keys on the bottom right. Nothing else sits on this inside area except for one more ZAGG logo, and the On/Off switch and Pair buttons.
The only thing left is the little lip that houses the iPad when typing. This is where I had a small issue. The iPad was in typing position on my counter and my wife was using it to pull up a recipe when she slid the keyboard back to make room and the iPad fell backwards. This isn’t as secure as I’d like it, after that I’ve been really afraid to apply any motion to them in this position. It’s only happened around 2-3 times, having the iPad slip out of the slot when trying to reposition the iPad and keyboard. A small update on this issue, I forgot to edit this after writing it after it happened, this was *only* because of the Spigen GLAS.t that I had applied to the iPad. After taking it off and using the iPad naked, or even with the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD, I never ran into this issue. I apologize for neglecting to update this before posting.
A small note about the slot where the iPad sits, the last time I used the ZAGGkeys was with the invisibleSHIELD I received with it, the slot on that was a lot less forgiving on the screen protector, the one on the PROplus isn’t as jagged it seems, and keeps the screen protector I have on now in better shape.
Battery and Backlit Keys
ZAGG promises you two months of battery life, well, I’ve had the thing for almost a month and it just today changed color in battery level. I’ve used the thing for everything I’ve done on my iPad. The battery in this keyboard is a perfect companion to the outstanding battery life on the iPad 3. I had incredible battery life on the last ZAGGkeys I used, and I am getting the same if not better with this one. I am really impressed with the performance ZAGG puts forth in the life of their batteries. I know that it is rare I’ll be left without the keyboard when I need it.
Like I mentioned above, the PROplus comes with a 3-stage backlit system. You have low, medium and high settings with just a press of a key. And if you hold that key, and hit one of the left/right arrows, you can filter throw the 7 different colors. The backlit keys are just as useful on this keyboard as they are on your MacBook. In low-light environments, having that bit of extra light really makes the keyboard not seem like a giant wasteland of un-explored territory. And the best part about it, it really doesn’t kill the battery.
Typing and Comfort
So, I’ve used this keyboard for every GS post and almost every lengthy email for the past month. I’ve made the effort to put this thing through the ringer and see if it is a nice trade off for those not wanting the laptop as their mobile computing machine. I am obviously talking about the person that won’t need to run heavy editing apps that aren’t available on the iPad. The speed I was able to type using this keyboard was impressive. I find some more compact keyboards will slow my impressive typing speed. I didn’t see much – if any – of a slow down.
I did find one area of the keyboard that hindered my speed, the lip just below the Space Bar. The lip that attached to the side of the iPad is raised to be about flush with the keys, so with the Space Bar being right above it, I found my thumb hitting this instead of the keyboard. I do rest my hands down as I type instead of having them elevated, this could be a personal preference as it helps with my speed, but I have to make the effort to raise my hands when typing so I don’t screw up my spacing. This was incredible annoying at the beginning of my time with the PROplus, but after a couple of weeks I instinctively made the effort to raise my hands when typing.
This keyboard is absolutely usable as a go-to keyboard for everyday typing. I am so impressed with how I was able to forget I was typing on some mobile keyboard attached to my iPad. Minus the beginning issue I had with the Space Bar lip thing, I honestly can type about as fast as I can with the keyboard at my desk. The keys are comfortable, not made of some crappy plastic. These keys feel great for long typing walks on the beach.
- The sleek aluminum finish fits perfectly with the iPad
- Thin, yet durable design
- Backlit keys (7 colors, 3-levels)
- Comfortable keyboard and keys
- Amazing battery
- Lip near Space Bar is intrusive at times
- Case only protects the screen
- A tad cramped for someone with larger hands
The ZAGGkeys PROplus can quite honestly be the best bluetooth keyboard out there. I haven’t used them all, but I have at least tried a majority of them. I haven’t used them in all in great lengths, but if you are like me, you can tell how you will get along with a keyboard. How it will feel against your fingertips all day long, every day. ZAGG hits a home run in comfort, battery, sleek design and overall usability. The slick aluminum shell seamlessly hugs your iPad. The magnets help this keyboard really serve as a case, I know it blows the competition out of the water as a keyboard, but it really does serve as an outstanding accessory when not in keyboard use. The magnets hug the iPad snugly and it seems to morph into an actual part of the iPad.
An excellent battery will keep you slamming those keys for hours and hours. The fact that this works even if you are using a screen protector is another huge win. I was able to use this with the Spigen GLAS.t as well as the invisbleSHIELD HD from ZAGG and I had no complaints. ***Except for the issue with the iPad coming out of the housing slot***
ZAGG has two models, the PRO which features pretty much everything except for the backlit keys for $99, and the PROplus model lighting up your fingers for only $130. Honestly, the backlit keys are well worth the $30 push in price. Having the versatility to type in any environment is a nice addition.
There really isn’t anything negative to say about the PROplus. It amazed me from the initial press release all the way through my testing and eventually this review. Anyone looking for a slick way to protect the most important part of your iPad while adding welcomed functionality must check this product out. Being able to use the iPad/ZAGG combo makes every day typing a breeze and more fun than a laptop. The battery of the iPad and the ZAGG will keep you typing well into the end of times – comfortably.
We highly recommend this keyboard and suggest you stop on over to ZAGG’s website an pick yourself up one! The cons won’t be for everyone, and even the lip issue can be overcome in a short time, and because of this I have to give this keyboard a perfect score.
Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 10/10
ZAGG invisibleSHIELD HD
I have always had a screen protector on my iPhone. And since I picked up the iPad 3 this past April, I have utilized a few different brands. If you remember back when I reviewed the ZAGGkeys Solo, I also gave you the insight on the invisibleSHIELD that was sent along side the keyboard. Overall, I had some issues with the film. Everything installed easily and worked great, but when laying on the beautiful Retina display, everything just looked cloudy and horrible. Over all durability and full-body coverage were able to bring the score up, but I still couldn’t get over that screen.
The rep over at ZAGG understood my frustration and offered to send me the HD version of the film instead, to aid in my Retina woes. I obliged him and was then sent the HD version along side this keyboard. I’ve been using them in unison every since and I definitely can agree that this is a much better purchase. The film I used before should be taken off the shelves and only the HD version sold.
I had an issue with position of this film, since it isn’t 100% to the size of the iPad, so I had a rough and cloudy first 24-48 hours, but after a few days, the clarity came back, probably around 93% of what it was. I have no issues with a cloudy haze or loss in clarity. Touch sensitivity was also sitting at 99% of what it was. I play quite a bit with gestures on my iPad and I didn’t notice any lag or problems with the ZAGG installed.
I was sent the HD screen coverage, which retails for $34.99, but for an extra $10, you can opt for the HD Maximum Coverage which will extend your protection to the full body of the iPad. Something I would recommend when buddying up with the rear protection-less ZAGGkeys PROplus. The level of protection is top notch, something that has always been true with ZAGG products. Scuffs and scratches just disappear in a short time, and the film looks good as new. I did feel this didn’t have these issues as much as the last version did. It could of been my issues, but I just felt happier with the end result of the HD version. At times, I honestly can’t tell there is a protective film on my iPad.
Like I mentioned above, the film does seem a bit small for the iPad, almost as if they produced the films in hopes the iPad would of been a 1/8-3/16 smaller. As you can see in the pictures, the top has an exposed gap, but the camera and Home Button cut-outs are aligned perfectly. This isn’t a huge issue, as my iPad is always protected by the PROplus now, but it is worth mentioning. For those of you that will only utilize this film, and let’s say a Smart Cover, you’ll want to take note of this.
Installation is a breeze as always. As with most ZAGG products, this features a wet application, so if you screw up the first time, you’ll have a little bit of slither room with the skin. I purposely messed up, since I accidentally screwed up my last one that wasn’t HD to see if I could assist in replicated the horrible experience. I had some clouding at the beginning but it turned out to disappear and yield a very nice experience. All bubbles eventually let them selves out, something I’ve almost never had happen to this level of success.
For $34.99, the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD HD is a great buy. For an extra $35 you can pick up a Spigen GLAS.t, but to be honest, I don’t think the clarity level difference is worth that price hike. ZAGG offers a stellar product that assists in protecting your iPad 3 without hurting the visual joy of the device.
If you want to protect your screen, but keep that sexy pixel party, ZAGG definitely has you covered!