ZAGGkeys Folio: Perfect keyboard companion for the iPad Air (hands on)

Summary:The thin iPad Air is so fast it calls out for a good keyboard for heavy use. This folio case fits it just right.

ZAGGkeys Folio profile
ZAGGkeys Folio with iPad Air Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

I couldn't resist getting an iPad Air due to its fast processor and thin, light form. Now that it's in my hand (actually, I can hold it in one hand) it's clear a decent keyboard will turn it into a good work system for me. It's a good thing the folks at ZAGG sent me the ZAGGkeys Folio to try out with the iPad Air. The iPad Air and the ZAGGkeys Folio go together like peanut butter and jelly. 

See related:  Lure of the iPad Air  |  iPad Air: Color me surprised  |  iPad Air: No Apple keyboard needed  |  2 keyboards for iPad Air: ZAGGkeys Folio and ZAGGkeys Cover 5 good office apps for the iPad

The ZAGGkeys Folio is very similar to the model for the iPad mini (reviewed here ). It is basically the same case made bigger to fit the iPad Air perfectly. It completely protects the tablet when closed and exposes a good keyboard when opened. Opening and closing the Folio wakes and sleeps the iPad Air, respectively.

ZAGGkeys Folio for the iPad Air specs:

  • Length: 6.82 in (173.2 mm)

  • Width: 9.55 in (242.6 mm)

  • Depth: 0.697 in (17.7 mm) closed with iPad

  • Depth: 0.299 in (7.6 mm) keyboard only

  • Weight: 18.87 oz (535 grams)

  • Battery: 950 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer
ZAGGkeys Folio closed
ZAGGkeys Folio for iPad Air Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The top of the case (when opened) is a simple plastic tray where the iPad Air is inserted. The tablet snaps in with an audible click and can be removed by gently twisting the corner of the lid and pulling the iPad Air out of the case.

The Folio uses the same unique hinge that is used on the two iPad mini cases previously covered by ZDNet . The hinge allows adjusting the tablet to various viewing angles to suit the situation. It is a sturdy hinge that supports the iPad Air securely at any possible angle.

The keyboard is very good and makes fast touch typing possible. The chiclet keys have good travel and give solid feedback when keys are pressed. There are five rows of keys, including one for number keys and another with special keys for operating the iPad Air. These include cut, copy, and paste keys, that come in handy in many situations.

The Folio has two useful features that make the keyboard special while still allowing good battery life. The Folio is a backlit keyboard, offering three different brightnesses and several colors. There is a key in the lower left of the keyboard that indicates remaining battery life when pressed. ZAGG claims a battery life of several months with two hours of use daily, and my experience with other keyboards from the company back this up.

ZAGGkeys Folio closeup
ZAGGkeys Folio keyboard closeup Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

In addition to the full keyboard that is good for fast typing, the Folio also has four arrow keys that in my experience are very good for moving around documents on the screen. This, coupled with the undo/redo keys on the top row, is very useful for editing documents.

All iPad Air buttons are accessible through cut-outs on the the Folio. There are little channels over the stereo speakers of the iPad Air designed to channel audio toward the user. In my testing the iPad Air audio sounds good and is not muffled while in the case.

The ZAGGkeys Folio for the iPad Air is a really good keyboard/case and turns the thin tablet into a real workhorse. It is better than the many keyboards I've tested for older iPads, which is fitting for the new iPad Air. It is currently available from ZAGG for $99.99.

Pros:

  • Nearly full-sized keyboard

  • Useful iPad Air control keys

  • Variable viewing angles

  • Protects iPad Air front and back

  • Backlit keys

  • Slim profile

Cons:

  • Lid feels a bit flimsy, may wear over time

  • A bit expensive

Related:

Two keyboard cases for iPad mini from ZAGG change the game

9 best iPad keyboards (hands on): March 2013

Top iPad keyboards: 2013 First Edition

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Tablets

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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