I don't set out each day planning to get some work done with a tablet, but when the opportunity presents itself on the run it's nice to have a good keyboard in the bag. When you write for a living the worst thing that can happen is to have an idea come up with no good way to capture it on the fly.
I am a big fan of the keyboards from ZAGG, the ZAGGfolio keyboard/case is one of my favorites for the iPad. I recently reviewed their ZAGGkeys Flex keyboard and found the keyboard to be as high quality as their other products.
I had been thinking about getting a case for my iPad mini to keep it protected in my gear bag. The first place I looked was on the ZAGG web site and the Mini 9 seemed to be a perfect fit for my lifestyle. It is a hard shell case that has one of the ZAGG keyboards mounted inside, turning the iPad mini into a real workhorse like the bigger iPad.
I had to make a quick decision as ZAGG has two sizes of the Mini for the iPad mini. The Mini 7 case is just the right size for the little tablet but with a small keyboard to fit the package. The Mini 9 case is a little wider than the iPad mini in landscape orientation thus allowing a regular-sized ZAGG keyboard to fit in the case.
I went with the Mini 9 for that nice-sized keyboard and so far I'm glad I did. While not quite full-sized the ZAGG keyboards are as small as possible while retaining the ability for fast touch typing.
The Mini 9 is a clamshell portfolio with a hard shell on one side for the iPad mini and a wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard on the other. The case has a flip kickstand on the back that props the iPad mini up for use at a good viewing angle, unlike the stand on the ZAGGkeys Flex as I noted in the review. The entire unit is covered with fake black leather that feels good in the hand and is nice and grippy.
Putting the tablet in the case looks easy on the video on the ZAGG web site but in reality it's pretty hard to do. The iPad mini fits very snugly when inserted in the case and it feels awkward to get in there properly. It's just as hard to remove the iPad mini from the case. I hope with use the fit will get a little looser as I like to take the tablet out of the case for use without the keyboard.
Once in the case there is no danger of the iPad mini falling out so it is secure. The entire case closes like a book with the mini inserted. There is no Smart Cover functionality to turn the iPad mini on and off as on other cases, and this case doesn't snap closed. Both sides of the case fit together nicely but nothing is holding it closed.
Since the Mini 9 case is wider than the iPad mini there is a strange space on both sides of the tablet when inserted. This space allows access to the power button on the iPad mini, albeit awkardly, and to the power port on the bottom. There is a cutout on the back of the case for the iPad camera and on the side for access to the mute button and volume controls.
It only takes a second to pair the Mini 9 with the iPad mini and then you're good to go. The full QWERTY keyboard you expect is there including a top row of special iPad function keys. There's a Home key, cut/copy/paste keys, media player control keys and a key that turns the screen on and off.
There is a battery check key on the lower left of the keyboard that causes the power indicator to display the charge status when pressed. This indicator also signals when the power is turned on and off while using the keyboard.
Like all ZAGG keyboards I have used this one should get months of use on a charge. The keyboard automatically goes in standby when not used for a while to conserve the battery. The power button can be used to turn it off manually if it's not going to be used for a while.
Typing on the Mini 9 is great. I can type at full speed with ease and quickly get things done when I have a few minutes. The keyboard makes all the difference in the world for my work compared to the iPad mini's onscreen keyboard.
I don't recommend others buy a tablet and a keyboard for a work machine as it makes more sense to just use a laptop. I do find keyboards like the Mini 9 to be a good addition for those who already have an iPad mini and who would like to do some heavy writing from time to time.
The Mini 9 is available from ZAGG for $89.99. It's not the cheapest keyboard you can get but it's a full protective case in addition to the keyboard. The case adds a lot of bulk and weight to the thin, light iPad mini in exchange for the protection and functionality it adds.