ZAGGkeys Flex: Portable keyboard for iOS and Android (review)

Summary:The ZAGGkeys Flex is a portable keyboard that works with both iOS and Android devices. A simple toggle switches special keys to work with either platform.

Keyboard in use

Tablets are supposed to be content consumption devices but with a decent keyboard they can become good creation devices. That's the situation driving interest in the Surface RT from Microsoft and the reason many portable keyboards are available for the iPad.

The iPad mini will eventually have keyboard/cases available but this early in its life those are not yet common. The small size of the iPad mini and other 7-inch tablets will likely make keyboard/cases a compromise given the small keyboard form required. The folks at ZAGG, makers of accessories for both iPads and Android tablets, have stepped in with the highly portable ZAGGkeys Flex.

The Flex consists of two parts: a keyboard unit that connects to a device via Bluetooth, and a case for the keyboard that turns into a stand for any device it's used with. The former is a great keyboard typical of the quality seen in ZAGG products, the latter not quite as good. 

Keyboard

The Flex keyboard is extremely light and about the width of a standard iPad. It's not quite full-sized for a keyboard but it's big enough to provide a good typing experience. Those familiar with other ZAGG keyboards, the ZAGGfolio for instance, will be happy to find the Flex is just as good.

Keyboard closeup
Switches

Typing on the Flex is no-compromise with fast touch typing supported. The keys are well spaced and have good tactile feedback. There is a top row of special control keys typical on iPad keyboard accessories that provide useful control over the iPad mini I have been using it with. These include copy/paste, Home, Lock, and volume control over both iOS and Android devices.

There is a toggle switch on the Flex to change these control keys to work with either iOS or Android. I have tested it with the iPad mini and the Nexus 7 and they work as advertized. Some of the keys only work properly with one platform or the other, but most are dual platform capable.

The Flex keyboard charges via an included microUSB cable and like other ZAGG keyboards should last months on a charge. It is so light and small it can be thrown in any bag or briefcase with no penalty. It has the protective case for transport that unfolds Origami-style into a stand for a phone or tablet.

Keyboard case stand

Stand

It is the stand where the ZAGGkeys Flex falls short. It is easy to unfold and change into a stand and includes embedded magnets to make it sturdy. Unfortunately this stand is not adjustable for a comfortable viewing angle, and this props both the iPad mini and the Nexus 7 up at an angle that makes it hard to see the screen.

I am tall so that plays a role in this uncomfortable viewing angle, but the stand really needs a setting that is less steep. It otherwise works as advertised but it's not very nice to use these tablets at this angle. I hope ZAGG will modify the stand to make this possible. It is such a problem for me that I would have to bring a separate stand to use the Flex on the go.

Conclusion

Those looking for a good portable keyboard to use with the iPad mini or other tablet will find the ZAGGkeys Flex to be a good fit. It is a solid keyboard that makes it easy to use with either iOS or Android. The stand works as advertised and shorter users may not find the steep viewing angle to be a problem but this reviewer does.

The ZAGGkeys Flex is available now for $69.99 direct from ZAGG.

See also:

Topics: Tablets, Android, iPad, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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