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

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.

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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

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11 comments
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  • Exactly what I need!

    Like some, I use my desktop less and less in favor of the mobility (and comfort) of a tablet. But without a keyboard, what's missing is online interaction, viz., social media, which can't be done without a keyboard. This should do it. Thanks James!
    zaine_ridling
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)
      .......http://goo.gl/Rb1r9
      PeterAnder
  • Where is the trackpad on that keyboard?

    I don't see it there but I'm sure it must support it. All the good tablets today support precision pointer devices.
    toddbottom3
    • A thinly veiled attempt to push

      Microsft's Surface line of tablets.
      Many here are on to you TB.
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
  • Also have to challenge you on your "no compromise" statement

    "Typing on the Flex is no-compromise with fast touch typing supported."

    That does not match this

    "It's not quite full-sized for a keyboard"

    Then it IS a compromise in order to make the keyboard

    "about the width of a standard iPad."

    Better, more modern tablets, have full size keyboards that are also the width of the tablet. No compromise.

    Another question for you. When you are done typing with this keyboard on a solid, flat surface (like a desk) how do you "pick up and go"? I presume this keyboard is no more than 3mm thick and just attaches to the iPad for easy carrying? Or is it thicker than 3mm and has no way of being attached to the iPad so that you have to carry it around separately? Does it also act as a cover for the iPad or do you ALSO need a cover?

    Sounds like compromises are everywhere with your device and this keyboard.
    toddbottom3
    • 17mm????

      Wow, just looked up the thickness of this device. 17mm. Wow. That's huge. The iPad is 9.4mm meaning that you triple the thickness of your device when you are carrying this thing around. That makes your iPad + keyboard a total of 26.4mm thick and I'll be nice by not even including the thickness of the smart cover. More modern tablet + stand + keyboard combinations come in much thinner than 26.4mm. For example, mine comes in at 12.3mm, or less than half the thickness of your setup.

      Ouch. The iPad device sure does require a lot of bulk in order to use it properly.
      toddbottom3
      • Tweener device

        +1 on your comments. So if you put a keyboard on an ipad it must instantly become a tweener device.....right.
        calfee20
      • These three idiot RT commercials have been brought to you by....

        Todd's Bottom

        Some like the mother and some like the daughter, but hardly anybody likes Todd's Bottom.

        I wonder why.
        D.T.Long
        • Can you please point out where?

          You are the first (and so far only) person to mention RT.

          Second, do you have anything better than name calling or can you address any of the points in my posts.

          For example why does this combination of functionality brings the iPad in at over 26mm thickness while other tablets come in at under 13mm?

          Can you address how a "nearly full size keyboard in order to make it the width of the iPad" means that this is a "no compromise keyboard"?

          Can you explain why this iPad combination forces you to carry around 2 different devices (iPad and also the keyboard/stand) while other tablets don't have this portability killing design?

          Can you explain where the trackpad went on this keyboard that is meant to enhance productivity? Not being able to properly select text is a productivity killing issue.

          Can you go through the rationale of why an iPad + keyboard is not a tweener device and does not affect the user's ability to operate the iPad without a keyboard while other tablets are tweener devices completely incapable of being operated without a keyboard (according to James and many other commenters) just because they happen to support a keyboard?

          Or are you going to stand firm on your name calling approach? You realize that every time you call me a name without addressing any of the points, you are telling all of ZDNet that I'm right?
          toddbottom3
    • Yes I'm sure

      that having a Surface tablet with the flex keyboard on my lap, while sitting on park bench, like those cute MS commercials, is the very definition of no compromise.
      Whatever you say there dude!
      MG537-23482538203179240121698430309828
    • Better than the best Surface Keyboard

      I've typed on the "good" keyboard cover of the new Surface Pro tabled and found it workable and subpar. I own the Zagg Folio which I find to be a superior keyboard. It is a little smaller than a full sized desktop keyboard but you'd never know it in actual use. This is only one of Zagg's offerings and they do make a full clamshell case which is more secure than that found on either Surface offering. Try it before you slam it. The unit covered in one of a family from the same company. They make the very best feeling keyboards of this type. You might want to put your hands on one before criticizing.
      Jim Gramze