When the Smart Keyboard was introduced for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro we were not impressed. That's not the case with the model for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The smaller size and heavier magnets used in the cover by Apple make for a solution that is easier to use.
The Smart Keyboard is much like smart covers that don't have a thin keyboard tucked inside. It works like a typical cover, and the keyboard is ready to open when needed. This keyboard is small, with keys that are sealed in the unit. This construction provides protection from minor spills.
Typing on the keyboard is comfortable as the keys have good travel and spacing. It's not perfect as there is no backlighting for using in poorly lit areas, and there are no keys to control the iPad Pro as found on many competing products.
The Smart Keyboard connects to the iPad Pro via the smart connector. This eliminates the need for a battery in the cover, but it restricts use to a single viewing angle for the iPad Pro of 55 degrees.
The Smart Keyboard for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is $149 from Apple.
The Apple Smart Keyboard is thin and light.
Easy to carry.
ZAGG updated the Slim Book keyboard cas for the iPad Pro 9.7 to change the cutouts on the case to allow access to the iPad Pro. There are openings for the camera, volume controls, and microphone.
The Slim Book 9.7 consists of two parts -- the lid where the iPad is inserted and a base keyboard module. The lid covers the back of the tablet and can be lifted out of the hinge in the base module to use the tablet without the keyboard. It is not ruggedized but provides a modest amount of protection for the iPad Pro.
The case uses Bluetooth instead of the iPad's smart connector to connect with the tablet. This means there is a rechargeable battery that must be watched although with a claim of two-years on a charge that's not an issue.
The keyboard base is aluminum with black chiclet keys reminiscent of a MacBook. The keys have a good feel and it is possible to type fast with few typos. There is a top row of keys consisting of iPad control keys that is really handy.
When closed the iPad Pro in the Slim Book is much like a laptop. The black polycarbonate of the case covers the lid and base unit. The lid can be opened to any viewing angle up to 145 degrees so it is comfortable to use in most environments.
The Slim Book can be purchased from ZAGG for $129.99.
Multiple viewing angles.
The Brydge 9.7 is a keyboard base that is constructed out of a single block of aluminum with two hinges on the rear of the unit. This base comes in the same colors as the iPad Pro, together with the tablet -- which forms the lid of the laptop -- the combo looks like a small MacBook.
The black chiclet keys work like those of good laptop so fast typing is supported and comfortable. There is a row of iPad control keys making it easy to run the tablet while keeping your hands on the keyboard.
The Brydge 9.7 pairs with the iPad Pro with Bluetooth, so there is an integrated battery in the keyboard that must be recharged. This allows moving the iPad to a comfortable viewing angle as desired.
No protection for the iPad, opened or closed. The Brydge 9.7 is available from the company for $149.99.
No Smart Connector support
A little heavy but still easy to handle.