As summer approaches and school wraps up, many of us hit the road for vacations, camping trips, and other events. If you take your iPad along like I do then you may be looking for some essential accessories and the folks at ZAGG Inc. have you covered with everything you need for your iPad. I had a chance to try out the ZAGGfolio, ZAGGsparq 2.0, ZAGGsmartbuds, ZAGGfoam, and invisibleSHIELD products and have several photos of these accessories in my image gallery.
|Image Gallery: Check out photos of the ZAGG gear for your new iPad and mobile devices.|
ZAGGfolioThe ZAGGfolio uses the newest keyboard layout, the same as I reviewed on the ZAGGkeys Flex Keyboard and integrates a carrying case for the iPad. You can actually take the keyboard out and use it without the case as well. Your iPad, including the new iPad, slides up into a retaining slot that extends almost half way down the iPad so you can still angle the iPad and place it in the integrated keyboard stand. I watch a lot of video content with my iPad in the keyboard stand and find the angle perfect for working and entertainment.
I travel once or twice a month and on some short trips I only take my iPad while leaving the laptop behind. I also commute over 2 hours a day on the train so the ZAGGfolio is perfect for protecting my iPad and giving me a keyboard for writing. Reconnecting via Bluetooth to the keyboard is seamless and I often go days without even turning off the keyboard (there is a small switch for this on the front) so I can just prop my iPad up and start typing away.
I was sent their carbon fiber colored silver keyboard ZAGGfolio to evaluate, but see there are 10 color/texture options and even three keyboard color options (silver, black, and white). The polyurethane models are $99.99, with the keyboard, and the leather ones are $129.99, with the keyboard. You can buy the keyboard by itself for $69.99 and Folios by themselves ($59.99 for leather and $29.99 for poly). I am a big fan of the color orange and may pick up just a Folio soon. Then again, that black keyboard looks pretty slick too :)
The ZAGGfolio includes an integrated magnet system so your iPad screen turns one when you flip open the case. The keyboard and case weigh 19 ounces and will add thickness to your thin iPad. Then again, you get a fairly protective case and fully functional keyboard for this added thickness and weight. I can really fly on the keyboard and think it is nearly perfect for the iPad.
ZAGGsparq 2.0In the past, I have carried around different portable power solutions to recharge my devices, but most of them required a computer to charge them up or I had to carry an A/C adapter. The ZAGGsparq 2.0 is a portable power solution with an integrated flip-up plug so you can charge it on the go. There are two USB ports on the ZAGGsparq so you will need to have the cable for the device you want to charge. Since most of my devices today use microUSB to charge up, I would love to see a future model with at least one integrated microUSB cable so you could just carry the accessory when traveling and never have to worry about a cable.
The ZAGGsparq 2.0 is available for $99.99 and offers up 6000 mAh of charging capacity so you can charge a device multiple times or a couple devices at the same time. It is great to travel with since the integrated prongs let you plug it into a hotel outlet and get two USB charging ports for multiple devices. The two USB ports are different and are labeled "optimized" and "general". The optimized (upper) port gives you faster charging for most smartphones and tablets.
There are four yellow indicator lights below the USB ports, along with a single button you can press to view the status of the battery. When you have it plugged in, these yellow LEDs show the power level all the time so the button is used when you are out and about with the ZAGGsparq.
ZAGGsmartbudsSince I carry so many devices, magazines, keys, and other gear in my bag, I prefer to use earbuds for my daily commute. I bounce around between earbuds quite a bit and haven't really settled on a "must have" pair since my older Ultimate Ears ones died. The ZAGGsmartbuds are a bit unique compared to most other earbuds I have tried due to their "Hangin' Tight" cord retention system. It felt a bit odd to put my head through a loop to get the earbuds in place, but if you are the type of user who pulls your earbuds out to do other things from time-to-time then you will likely appreciate how the earbuds hang down from your neck and don't drop all the way back to your music source or on your lap. It took a few times to get used to the system, but I like the way you can put the earbuds on and forget about them.
The cable is wrapped in invisibleSHIELD material and remains tangle-free, which is very important to me since I can't stand when cables get all balled up. The cords are quite long so keep that in mind if you like a simple, minimal system. A mic with call control button is on one piece and another inline piece contains volume control. The functionality of these depends on your particular device. There are multiple tips and buds in the package, along with a very nice zippered carrying pouch and some directions.
The earbud tips are angled away from the earbud pieces so they fit very nicely in the ear and feel comfortable. The 3.5mm headphone jack is also at a 90 degree angle so your cable doesn't stick straight up and out of your mobile device. Sound is very good, especially when you consider they only cost $49.99. I have heard better with much more expensive earbuds, but am pleased with the audio quality and other functionality of these earbuds.
ZAGGfoamI never thought much about testing out a mobile cleaning product and am constantly wiping down my laptop and mobile displays with micro-fiber cloth pieces and sometimes even harsh cleaning wipes. ZAGG sent along their ZAGGfoam cleaning solution and I am now a believer in the product. I sprayed the foam, shoots out like foam shaving cream, on my MacBook Pro display and wiped it down with the included micro-fiber cloth. I haven't seen my MBP display look so clean since I first purchased it so then started cleaning all of my phone and tablet displays. This stuff works and even helps keep the display clean for some time after application.
The $9.99 ZAGGfoam is advertised as having a capacity for 200 pumps per bottle and I haven't come close to that yet. In addition to visually cleaning your gear, the solution is anti-bacterial so it helps keep your workspace and devices healthier too. I have seen ZAGG include this with larger orders in the past so keep your eye out for future sales.
invisibleSHIELDI have been applying invisibleSHIELD screen protectors on my mobile devices for years (my order history shows since 2007) and have one on my new iPad to help ensure the display stays in perfect condition as I travel and commute. There are a few different coverage options, full body (with or without side protection) and display only, and I personally just use the display only ones on my iPad so I can place my iPad into cases without worrying about messing up the side or back cover.
There is a $5 difference between their standard invisibleSHIELD and their HD protector and according to ZAGG the HD protector provides advanced clarity and a glass-like surface. They also have anti-glare screen coverage, but I am not a fan since it seems to take away a bit from the brilliance of the display and that is not an area I am willing to sacrifice.
Which accessory was my favorite?I think it is pretty clear that I found the ZAGGfolio to be the most useful accessory for me and my new iPad has been living in this case for the last couple of months. I am going to place an order for the orange folio to go with this setup and look forward to continued productivity with the ZAGGfolio and various Office applications
I found all the accessories to be quite useful and would like to see ZAGG offer bundles for different seasons or occasions, such as the graduation package or summer travel package. Did you know that they do have a free customer loyalty program called ZAGG Zealots where you can earn points for different discounts and gift cards to use on future purchases? Each dollar you spend earns you a point with some specials giving you double points.
Related ZDNet coverage
- ZAGGkeys Flex Bluetooth keyboard for iOS and Android (review)
- 2011 iPad Office apps showdown: Who says you can't work on the go?
- ZAGGfolio keyboard for iPad 2: Form and function refined (review)
- iPad 2 as a serious writing machine (how-to)