You’ve heard about the ZAGGmate Bluetooth keyboard and iPad case online, but if you’re anything like me, you want to know how useful it actually is. Marketing-speak can make just about anything sound awesome, but it really comes down to actually trying it. At CES, I was able to try out the ZAGGmate at the ZAGG booth. Let me tell you about it.
I’ll start by covering all of the bases. The ZAGGMate with keyboard is a rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard on the inside of an iPad case. The keyboard is designed to work with iPad specifically with playback, on/off, search and other special action keys. They also double as FN keys, and there’s even a Control key (in addition to the two Command keys) to support the use of the keyboard on non-Apple devices. There’s an on-off switch for the keyboard right next to the slot that holds the iPad. Behind the slot, you’ll find a kick stand of sorts on which the iPad can rest in either the landscape or portrait orientation.
But is it comfortable to use? That depends on your hand size and willingness to make compromises in exchange for portability. The ZAGGmate is just barely bigger than the iPad itself, which ultimately limits the size of keyboard they can stick inside of it. A full sized keyboard would add a little more than an inch to the height of the iPad. So instead, they put roughly an 85% sized keyboard in there. This is going to be a deal breaker for many potential users, there’s just no way around that.
My test for usability of the keyboard has been and always will be to type a question to the rep at the booth with the keyboard. If they are able to answer the question as typed, it’s probably good to go. I tried to type “How big is this keyboard?” and failed miserably. It was closer to “How bihg id yjis krtnord>” which just won’t do. That said, my test isn’t completely fair. You’d definitely need to accustom yourself to this size of keyboard, and based on how many netbooks are out there in the hands of consumers, I’d say many already are. But again, you’re not going to be typing 120 WPM right out of the box.
One other oddity is that the case can only be used to cover the screen of the iPad. For some reason or another, I assumed this was a back shell style case for the iPad. Maybe I assumed this because I wanted it to be that way so the iPad could be used inside of the ZAGGmate. In any case, it isn’t, and now you know.
The ZAGGmate with keyboard is available now for $99.99 at ZAGG.
See Appletell’s full CES 2011 coverage.