Your choices for an iPad may be limited at the moment in terms of form factor, but that is certainly not the case when it comes to third party keyboards. Various manufacturers have created various makes and models that cater to different consumer needs. There are keyboards contained in full cases or folios that provide protection for the entire iPad and there are keyboard covers that just provide protection for the screen when the keyboard and iPad are mated in a closed position. There are other options as well. This review focuses on the ZAGGKeys Cover for the iPad Air. As the name indicates, it is a cover not a case.
If you’re looking for a cover type keyboard the ZAGGKeys Cover for the iPad Air should be at the top of your consideration list. It is just now beginning to be available at retailers and I picked one up a couple of days ago. I actually prefer the cover to the case or folio options for an iPad keyboard because I like to be able to remove the iPad quickly and easily to use without a keyboard. My prior favorite has been the Logitiech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. I know have a new favorite.
Let’s get to the basics first. The ZAGGKeys Cover for the iPad Air comes in Space Grey or white. It measures 6.82 inches by 9.55 inches and weighs in at 0.8lbs. So it is relatively light. Unlike some other keyboard cover models, the mechanism that holds the iPad Air is a hinge that is on the back of the keyboard.
Once the iPad Air is inserted in the slot of that hinge you can manipulate to your preferred viewing angle.
You insert the iPad Air in landscape mode so that the Home Button will be to your right. You can insert the iPad Air into the keyboard in portrait mode if you wish. Either way the iPad Air is a snug fit once inserted. Snug enough that you can pick up the iPad Air and keyboard by lifting the Tablet. The hinge feels good and sturdy at the moment and the design and balance of the keyboard is such there doesn’t seem like the iPad Air would tip it over. In my view, one of the bonuses of this hinge design is that this allows for a larger keyboard surface which leaves more room for a palm rest area and for a full six rows of keys.
The ZAGGKeys Cover comes with backlit keys that you can cycle through 3 levels of brightness or through 7 different colors by using the a combination of the Light key to the right of the Space Bar and the right arrow key.
The ZAGGKeys Cover has its own battery and should last you for quite awhile before it needs charging with the included micro USB cable. ZAGG says you’ll get up to three months which it defines as 2-3 hours of typing a day without the backlit keyboard feature turned on. There is a key to test for battery life on the lower left. If you press it and get three green flashes you have 50% or more battery life. Yellow indicates 25%-49% and red indicates less than 25%. When charging the green light will show and turn off once the keyboard is fully charged. Specs indicate that it takes 2-4 hours for a full charge. The keyboard will turn itself off if not in use and you can wake it back up by pressing any key. It is recommended that you use the power off switch if you don’t plan on using the keyboard for a lengthy period of time. Close your iPad Air over the keyboard and you’ll hear the familiar click that tells you that your iPad Air has gone into sleep mode.
Pairing the device via Bluetooth is simple. You turn the power button on and press the adjacent pairing button. This is the same procedure that most third party keyboards follow. You should only need to pair the keyboard to your iPad Air once.
As to typing, I find the spacing of the keys on this almost full sized keyboard to be excellent. No matter what 3rd party keyboard you are using there will be a period of adjustment. I adjusted very quickly to the spacing of this keyboard’s island style keys. I also like the action of the keys quite a bit as it feels firm and solid under my finger tips. The physical surface of the keyboard and keys is matte-like that so far doesn’t seem to easily pick up fingerprints.
The top row of keys features a Home key to bring you back to the iPad Air’s home screen, a Lock key that locks and unlocks the keyboard, a Mic key to activate Siri, media controls, and keys for copy and paste. There is a CAPS lock key with a light up indicator to let you know it is on as well.
When the iPad Air is closed over the keyboard the entire package is comfortable to tote around and if you have an older sleeve case for an earlier model iPad lying around, the combo should slide into that sleeve easy enough. Although the iPad Air fits snuggly into the slot, it is easy enough to remove if you want to go with just the Tablet.
If you’re looking for a keyboard cover style 3rd party keyboard for the iPad Air, I highly recommend the ZAGGKeys Cover. Just keep in mind that everybody responds to keyboards differently. That said, ZAGG has come up with a clever design that works well and makes an attractive addition to the iPad Air. The ZAGGKeys Cover is available at ZAGG and other retailers for $99. If you’re searching other retailers make sure you search for the ZAGGKeys Cover for the iPad Air, otherwise you could be looking at similar options for older iPads. There is also a model available for the iPad mini that should fit the iPad mini with Retina Display.