Review: Rugged Folio keyboard case for iPad mini, ready for the work site

Review: Rugged Folio keyboard case for iPad mini, ready for the work site

Summary: There are lots of keyboard cases for iPads, and there are rugged cases without the keyboard. Now there is a ruggedized case with a keyboard for taking the iPad mini into harsh environments.


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  • Rugged Folio by ZAGG for the iPad mini

    ZAGG has been making mobile keyboards for years, and they make good ones. The ZAGGkeys Cover is one of the best keyboard cases available for the iPad mini. Carrying on the design of that case with a patented hinge that makes it possible to use the iPad in multiple viewing angles, ZAGG now has the Rugged Folio for the iPad mini.

    The Rugged Folio is the first ruggedized case for the iPad mini with a keyboard. It offers complete protection for using the iPad in harsh conditions, such as construction sites. It is a case that protects the tablet no matter the environment.

    See related: Seven best iPad Air keyboards (hands on): June 20145 best iPad mini keyboards

    Putting the iPad mini in the Rugged Folio couldn’t be easier, as the tablet tray detaches from the keyboard assembly. The iPad mini pops into the tray and then a rubber bumper is smoothed over the tablet.

    The innovative design of the Rugged Folio allows using it with the iPad mini in any one of three modes. The first is a laptop mode with the unit assuming the typical clamshell form. This is the mode for typing with the keyboard.

    The second mode is a pure tablet mode without the keyboard attached. Pop the iPad off the keyboard hinge and it can be carried and used as a tablet, with the distinction of being protected by the rugged case.

    The third mode is also for using the iPad mini as a tablet, but with the keyboard attached for easy transport. Just pop the tablet tray off the hinge as in the second mode, turn the iPad around and reinsert it in the magnetic hinge. The iPad tray is then “closed” over the keyboard leaving the screen exposed.

    I find it easier to use the iPad mini without the keyboard by simply detaching it from the keyboard. The keyboard goes back in the bag.

    The tablet tray attaches to the keyboard via magnets which line it up perfectly. The entire unit closes like a folio for transport. The folio is thicker than other cases (about an inch) due to the polycarbonate and rubber construction which provides protection.

    The keyboard on the Rugged Folio is typical ZAGG, with nearly full-sized keys that make it possible to touch type despite the small size. Keys are placed where you expect them and there’s even a top row of dedicated keys for controlling the iPad mini. The keyboard is just as good as the ZAGGkeys Cover for the iPad mini, my favorite keyboard.

    There is a battery life indicator under the power key on the upper right of the keyboard that indicates the charge level when you press the Fn key along with the key with the battery on it. It’s not likely that you’ll be pressing this often as ZAGG claims a staggering two years of typing on a single charge. This is much longer than the three months typical for keyboards of this type.

    The Rugged Folio keyboard is backlit, and can be toggled through seven colors, each at three brightness levels. It can be turned off to lower battery consumption.

    The ZAGG Rugged Folio for the iPad mini is perfect for taking it to work no matter the environment. While not military spec, the case should protect the iPad mini from most bumps and drops. That it does this while remaining relatively light and portable is due to good engineering and design.


    • Good protection
    • Can use in multiple configurations
    • Innovative hinge for variable viewing angles


    • A bit thick when closed
    • Expensive

    Reviewer's rating: 8.5 out of 10

    The Rugged Folio for the iPad mini will be available July 12 from ZAGG and AT&T for $139.99. It fits both the iPad mini with Retina Display and the older iPad mini. The company plans to have the larger model for the iPad Air soon for $149.99.

    Continue to the following pages for a photo tour of the Rugged Folio including demonstrations of all three user configurations.

  • Rugged Folio for the iPad mini front view

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Reviews, Tablets

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  • Hey!

    Microsoft implies you can't get a keyboard for an iPad. What's the deal? No way MS stretches the truth, so now I'm all confused! Help me Mr. Microsoft!!!
    Tony Burzio
    • Oh Please

      You are as bad as Owl, only the other extreme. Microsoft has NEVER implied you can't get a keyboard for the iPad. In fact, that is part of their advertising, in that you HAVE to get a keyboard for productivity software, so why not consider their alternative.
  • James, keyboard reviews are so boring...try a Windows phone and let us know

  • end result: $550 for the worst aspects of both tablet and notebook

    This thing ends up nullifying the strengths of a mini tablet. light weight, thin, pocket portable, easy to hold, etc.

    likewise it offers none of the real benefits of a notebook. peripheral Support, USB, expandable memory, mouse/pen input, use accounts, multiple windows open, file system access, processing power, programs, etc etc

    There just doesn't seem to be a more expensive and less functional way to make a portable pc notebook thing than slapping a keyboard case on an iPad. Just about any case negates the iPad thin and light strengths while the operating system is the furthest of any from offering capabilities of a notebook. on top of all that it is essentially the most expensive way to do something like that.
  • Use case

    I think a device setup like this is for a very specific use case. Maybe a manufacturing floor running a ERP app. Otherwise the Mini is really too small to have a useful keyboard length (I have tried them), you're better off just using the on screen keyboard.
    Rann Xeroxx