New iPad and ZAGGfolio keyboard/case: Compact and fast

New iPad and ZAGGfolio keyboard/case: Compact and fast

Summary: I recently picked up a new iPad and ZAGGfolio keyboard case that together make a super fast, compact laptop replacement for writers like me.


I have long been using tablets with keyboards for writing. A good tablet with a decent keyboard can function as a good laptop replacement for writers. I recently bought a new iPad and ZAGGfolio keyboard case that, put together, is as good a writing tool as anything available.

ZAGGfolio 600
(Credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

I previously owned a third generation iPad, but gave it to a family member for the holidays. I was happy using the iPad Mini, but quickly came to miss the bigger iPad for serious writing projects. I wasted no time in buying a 64GB iPad, with Verizon LTE inside, to get back to work. I paired it with a new ZAGGfolio keyboard case that, when used with the iPad, forms a mobile writing system that is great.

The battery of the iPad lasts over 10 hours, even on LTE, and the ZAGGfolio keyboard will last months on a single charge.

The new iPad (or iPad 4 as it's sometimes called) is the fastest tablet of any kind I have used, and I've used quite a few, so that is saying a lot. Everything I do on the iPad happens instantly; tapping an icon to run an app causes it to run without hesitation. I'm still impressed at the speed after using it for a week.

I use the iPad on Wi-Fi when available, but already find the Verizon LTE to be very useful. I don't plan my mobile work sessions around finding hotspots; the LTE is always there and ready for high-speed connectivity.

The ZAGGfolio rounds out the package with a keyboard that is almost full-size. The chiclet keys make it possible for even fast touch typists like me to pound out text with ease. In the week I've owned this combo, I have written thousands of words with no problems.

The new ZAGGfolio is much the same as the older model I had previously reviewed. This one has been slightly modified to better fit the iPad 3 and 4. The modifications make it easy to slide the iPad 4 in and out of the case for use as a tablet.

I bought the metallic red ZAGGfolio. It is well constructed and protects the iPad fully when carried in my gear bag. Opening the case activates the iPad with the Smart Cover technology embedded in the case. The iPad then slips in a slot on the keyboard, which holds the tablet at a good angle for viewing the screen.

Like earlier ZAGGfolio models, the new one has a top row of special function keys that provides common functions to control the iPad. These keys include the Home, cut, copy, and paste functions, along with media player controls.

ZAGGfolio closed 300
(Credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

The keyboard on the ZAGGfolio is removable for using without the case if desired, and connects to the iPad via Bluetooth. Once paired to the iPad, the keyboard auto-connects when any key is pressed. There is a power key to turn the keyboard off, and auto-sleeps if left on and not used for a while.

When closed, the iPad in the ZAGGfolio is light and compact enough to fit in small gear bags. The battery of the iPad lasts over 10 hours, even on LTE, and the ZAGGfolio keyboard will last months on a single charge.

The combo is up and running in just seconds after pulling it out of the bag, making it a great portable writing machine. It's not for everyone, but I find it works great for me.

See also:

Topic: iPad

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  • Comparing two ecosystems that you are very familiar with, James

    If you are on a tropical island with great LTE service (LOL) and you could only choose between these two choices, which would you choose. Boy, is this going to get you in hot water. Grin.

    The Best Chromebook with Google's ecosystem or the iPad 4/Zaggfolio with Apple's ecosystem - which, BTW, incorporates quite a few Google apps as well.

    Enjoy the flame wars, James.
  • Still a cumbersome and clunky solution to make a tablet have decent typing

    I guess if all you have is an ipad and absolutely need it to type on this is the best of the available solutions, but it still leaves so much to be desired.

    IMHO this type of case highlights the weaknesses of trying to use tablets designed for consumer entertainment as a mobile work device. The case ruins most of the strengths the ipad offers in its slim and lightweight design.
  • New iPad and ZAGGfolio.

    What happened to your Chromebook solution? Has it followed your Surface RT out of the door, or is this simply an experiment?
    • Use them both

      I use the Chromebook at home and for overnight trips, the iPad for day trips. Works well for me, don't need one device to do both.
  • Needs mouse support

    I kind of agree with this guy. Without mouse support, it is a slightly weird solution. I used a ZaggFolio during a convention once, and I found doing any major cutting and pasting without a mouse making me wish I had just brought a laptop in the first place. Nothing worse than destroying an entire paragraph by accident because of fat fingers. Using keyboard only for editing felt like I had gone back to the days of DOS before mouses.

    Sometimes it's just easier to cut to the chase and use the best tool for the job rather than having to buy all sorts of accessories to try to make it the best tool for the job (and it still comes up short).

    I'm hoping that the next iOS release will give us mouse support. It really need it.
  • Ipad Zagg Vs. Chromebook

    Why you are preferring this solution over your Chromebook?

    Actually you have created "Apple RT".

    • apple RT?

      Minus the precision pointing device.

      Minus Office.

      Minus valuable screen real estate while at the same time not being any lighter or thinner.

      So if "RT" is the light version, this is the apple RT^2.
      • Speaking of precision pointing devices. There has been a development.

        Although we had a very nice discussion awhile back about the first generation iPen device by Cregel, which you dismissed on the grounds that it was not a universal digitizer pen for ALL iOS apps (a fair point), the company has announced the second generation product based upon a new technology. Currently it is a kickstarter project with a projected mid summer release date. (As all things beta, it is vaporware at this stage but the company has a good track record of bringing their products to market.)

        Not only will this new iPen 2 product work on the new iPad, a variation of this product will work on an iMac turning that huge screen into an interactive "Watcom like product" at a very small fraction of that product's cost. (The Watcom Clintiq 22 HD sells for around $2,000 dollars - the iMac iPen version's projected cost is around $150 dollars)

        Check this out, Todd, and let me know what you think.

        BTW, as an early iPen 1 owner, I get to upgrade for a little over $50 dollars. I did so and I think I will choose the iMac version first. If that product works out, I will purchase the iPad version as well.

        The neat things about this second generation device are that it appears to be a universal cursor/pen digitizer with pressure sensitive capabilities. And, according to it's new design, the pen "stylus" is angle agnostic. That is, one can change the contact angle of the stylus tip to the screen at any time and the digitized "line" will always stay true to the stylus tip path traced on the display.

        I hope this project gets funded. It looks like a very useful accessory.
        • I could see it for ipad, not for imac

          I'm thinking of the ergonomics involved with writing or even drawing on an imac screen. I think the Wacom tablets work because they are at the right angle on your desk. I can't see how the imac screen is at the right angle to make this work for fine gestures or for extended sessions. And yes, I know that this is an argument made against touchscreen desktops but:

          1. I sort of agree anyway, I don't think touchscreen desktops are that fantastic of an idea.

          2. I see touchscreen desktops as using touch for quick, brief movements. The whole "gorilla arm" thing doesn't happen if you swipe, swipe, tap, then move to your keyboard, or sit back and watch the movie, or walk away and listen to the music you just started. "gorilla arms" will happen if you spend 45 minutes using a pen on your imac screen.

          You say you already have this with your ipad, right? One thing that struck me was that they use "invisible light" to triangulate the position of the pen. Does this mean that you have to make sure your hand doesn't block the path between any of the cameras and the pen? It is actually my biggest complaint with a pen and my Surface (and the ipad when I used it): I wasn't able to rest my hand on the screen while using a pen. Sure, there are software palm blockers and they work okay but they are a hassle. The digitizers are actually fantastic for that. I tried a Note 2 recently and the note taking app completely ignored my hand, only accepting input from the pen. It was slick.
          • You are under a slight misunderstanding, Todd.

            As I stated, I have version one of the Cregle iPen. (Version one uses a different tracking tech)

            The second version of the Cregle iPen is a kickstarter project which may - or may not - get funded. However, I suspect it will.

            I have already placed my pledge for this second version (which uses the light beam tracking tech) and, should this project achieve it's funding goals, the iPen 2 should be available by mid-summer of this year.

            I agree with most you and most everyone else regarding the ergonomic disadvantages of working on a desktop vertical display monitor with a digitizing pen. Gorilla arm syndrome would get old very fast!

            However, I did watch a few Cregle video demos where the iMac screen is custom mounted in a horizontal orientation. This would aid the artist or user in any work requiring the use of a digitizing pen. (Granted, this horizontal placement of an iMac is a custom mounting solution, to be sure.)

            For PC users, this pen will be available for use as well. I could imagine the HP all-in-one desktop models that have those reclining base stands would solve the gorilla arm problem.

            Still, in normal use on a vertical display, for the quick tracing of a digital image on a large 27" iMac screen or for precision annotation efforts requiring a digital pen input, this solution would be ideal.

            But, for most everything else, a standard mouse or trackpad are the tools of choice when working at a desktop system. (That, or a small Watcom tablet. I have the Watcom Bamboo product as well. It works as advertized but, I never could quite get the hang of it. I think the digitizer pen needs to be in contact with the display screen itself for optimum productivity.

            I was curious about that possible light blockage effect you mentioned, Todd. I suspect that this would be a very real negative side effect. I did notice that Cregle placed the two light beam tracking sensors at the top corners of the iMac. I suspect that would help minimize that unwanted light beam blockage effect. Also, a person would rarely block the light beam with any palm or arm blockage on an iMac screen in normal use. Try that experiment yourself on a desktop monitor. Use your finger as the pen tip. Notice where your palms and wrist are. They are below your finger tip. I'm sure the sensors placed on top of the iMac screen would not have to worry about blockage in normal use.

            The iPad setup is another matter all together. Only in actually practice could our concerns on this point be resolved.

            BTW, that is one reason why the Surface Pro is on my very short list for my next tech purchase. I suspect that it's digitizing pen (which comes with the purchase of the Surface Pro) will work just fine.

            Pity that the Surface Pro will be obsolete in six months after introduction. The intel Haswell chips are do out in that time frame. The Surface Pro could have used those chips for better battery life.
          • Oh, I thought your pen used the same light technology

            I realized you didn't have iPen 2, I was asking about light blockage because I thought your iPen 1 used the same technology. Thanks for clarifying.

            I also assumed that it "triangulated" the position by using at least 3 sensors. If it only uses 2 at the top of the screen then I don't see light blockage being a big concern.

            "Pity that the Surface Pro will be obsolete in six months after introduction."

            Could be. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the Surface Pro so I haven't really thought too much about its future. I agree with you on the digitizer pen though. I would buy a Surface RT 2 if it came with that.
  • How does one type in portrait mode while it is in the case?

    I'm just curious. We've heard in the past that not being able to type in portrait mode means that a tablet is useless.

    "Once paired to the iPad the keyboard auto-connects when any key is pressed."

    What is the delay between when you press the first key, and when the ipad starts registering your keystrokes? I have an ipad 2 with an earlier version of the zagg / logitech keyboard case and it drove me NUTS because you would start typing only to realize that bluetooth was still connecting. Your first few keystrokes were lost into the void while you waited the 5-10 seconds for it to connect. It was very FRUSTRATING.

    Finally, now that you've added a bunch of accessories to turn your ipad into a laptop replacement, what role does your Chromebook fill? In other words, what does your ipad / keyboard combination fail at so miserably that you are forced to keep ANOTHER laptop around to replace the laptop replacement that you claim your ipad is?

    Thanks James, always enjoy reading your stuff. Seriously, it brings a smile to my face.
    • Answers

      1. Don't type in portrait, could slip the iPad out for that which does work.

      2. Takes a second. I tap a key when I'm about to start typing after a while.

      3. "Bunch of accessories". Actually one keyboard, like your Surface.

      4. Don't need nor want a single device to do everything sort of well. Prefer best solutions for each usage scenario.

      I live to make you smile.
      • Thanks for some of the answers

        1. Ah, so the ipad in the case doesn't work in portrait, good to know, important for your readers to know this.

        2. Good to see that they've improved this. Like I said, the ipad 2 with a bluetooth keyboard constantly made me want to smash the ipad against the wall.

        3. You didn't answer the more important part of the question which is: what is it about the ipad + keyboard that is a total fail such that you need to keep your Chromebook around? You keep dancing around the question by saying that you prefer the best solution for each usage scenario. What is the usage scenario that the ipad completely fails at that the Chromebook succeeds in? It isn't the existence of a keyboard since you keep going on about how you are able to write hundreds of thousands of words with the ipad + keyboard. I'll give you an example, since you brought up the Surface: I could go buy a Chromebook but there isn't a single usage scenario that it could handle better than my Surface. If you can't say the same about your ipad, then you must be able to name the usage scenario that the ipad fails at.

        "I live to make you smile."

        You succeed. Every day you succeed. Kudos James.
        • Avoiding the question James?

          "what is it about the ipad + keyboard that is a total fail such that you need to keep your Chromebook around? You keep dancing around the question by saying that you prefer the best solution for each usage scenario. What is the usage scenario that the ipad completely fails at that the Chromebook succeeds in? It isn't the existence of a keyboard since you keep going on about how you are able to write hundreds of thousands of words with the ipad + keyboard."

          No comment?
  • Why aren't you mentioning price???

    How about sharing with your readers how much you paid for your glorified word processor? Did Verizon give you a sweetheart deal or is the world of James Kendrick a world where price is irrelevant?
    • I think James can afford the tech he uses.

      Enough said.
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