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First Look: ZAGGmate iPad Case with Keyboard Review

by on December 2nd, 2010

Update 1: We’ve been talking to David Gengler from ZAGG, who has worked on the ZAGGmate since inception. Just to clarify, the invisibleSHIELD does not come with the ZAGGmate. It’s on mine as for test purposes.

Also, here are a few more keyboard features/commands:

Copy: Command C
Cut: Command X
Paste: Command V
Undo: Command Z
End: Command right arrow
Beginning: Command Left Arrow
Page UP: Command Up Arrow
Page Down: Command Down Arrow
Select All: Command A
Select Left: Shift Left
Select Right: Shift Right
Select Down: Shift Down
Select Up: Shift Up

The combination of these keyboard shortcuts will save you from having to touch the iPad screen.

The ZAGGmate is the latest line of iPad cases available for consumers. What sets the ZAGGmate apart from other case manufacturers is that it’s primarily a thin aluminum case. This retains the original aluminum look of the iPad. There are two models of the ZAGGmate available, with one that comes with a built in keyboard. We were lucky enough to have ZAGG send us a unit for review. This is the world’s first look at the ZAGGmate with Keyboard for the iPad.

ZAGGmate with Keyboard Review for iPad

The ZAGGmate comes with the following out of the box:

  • ZAGGmate aluminum case with keyboard
  • USB charging cable for keyboard
  • Quickstart Guide

Left: ZAGGmate; Right: ZAGGmate with Keyboard

Protecting your iPad in the ZAGGmate

The ZAGGmate with keyboard comes as a standalone aluminum piece with a flat, thin keyboard resting inside. The unit feels light and a bit flimsy, but I can see the minimal factor. The iPad screen is protected by resting it into the ZAGGmate, which leaves the iPad back exposed. However, if your iPad has an invisibleSHIELD it’s not a problem at all. The iPad screen does not touch anything but the foam pads laid throughout. The keyboard is recessed so you don’t have anything to worry about. When inside the ZAGGmate, there is a cut out for the 30 pin connector so you can still charge/sync your iPad.

Pairing the ZAGGmate to my iPad was easy. I enabled Bluetooth on my iPad, pressed the Bluetooth button on the ZAGGmate, and paired both of them together by punching in the pairing code on the ZAGGmate keyboard.

On/Off Switch, Status Light Indicators

There are also status light indicators (charging light/status light) to tell you the status of the ZAGGmate’s battery. It’s located near the ON/OFF switch, beside the Bluetooth button.

The ZAGGmate’s battery claim is a couple of months standby. Turning OFF the keyboard will extend your battery life. Also, there’s an automatic sleep mode built in. It’ll activate after periods of inactivity and come back to life after a key is depressed.

Setting Up your iPad Workstation

Your iPad sits snugly into the ZAGGmate and creates a nice angle to type on. There is a hinge that lifts up and locks into place for your iPad to rest on. The iPad can rest in a landscape or portrait. It’s a pretty snug fit, but doesn’t rest in securely like the iPad dock. Still, my iPad didn’t sway or move when I rocked the ZAGGmate side to side.

Although the ZAGGmate keyboard is not a full sized keyboard, I was still able to use it with my fairly large hands. I can’t imagine typing for long periods of time on this keyboard, but the benefit is that you have a case/keyboard combo all in one. Here are the keyboard functions:

  • Home button
  • Search – brings up Spotlight
  • Slideshow – plays your saved pictures
  • Keyboard hide/show
  • Black screen – turns your screen on/off
  • Previous, Play/Pause, Next – controls your media
  • Mute, Volume Up/Down

The keyboard keys are firm and snappy, and there is also a command key to perform copy/paste functions. Considering the keyboard’s small size, there’s a lot crammed in there but it works.

Packing Up Your iPad into the ZAGGmate

Your iPad fits into the ZAGGmate and stays put via the memory foam lined throughout. It’s a very snug fit–the iPad did not fall out while the ZAGGmate was held upside down. It only adds 1/4 of an inch extra thickness to your iPad. Check out these two images of my iPad being propped up with my iPhone 4:

There is lots of padding within the ZAGGmate to protect your iPad’s screen. The downside though, is the back side of your iPad is exposed. But like I mentioned, with the invisibleSHIELD installed on the back everything felt secure and safe (btw: the Apple iPad case added some blue stains to my invisibleSHIELD!).

How to remove your iPad from the ZAGGmate? Place the ZAGGmate sitting on its side in a vertical position, then apply pressure with your thumbs to separate. The memory foam does a great job keeping the iPad snug. The way the iPad sits in the ZAGGmate reminds me of the Dodo case (for those who have one).

Is the ZAGGmate with Keyboard Worth It?

The ZAGGmate is a pretty awesome idea. It’s a case to protect your iPad screen, plus a functional keyboard/stand for you to get some work done. The real benefit is the minimalist factor–it’s lightweight and super thin. It won’t add any extra bulk to your bag. The aluminum design matches the iPad perfectly.

However, how does it compare to the traditional Apple Keyboard Dock or Apple Wireless Keyboard/iPad Dock combo? Take a look at the prices below:

At $99, the ZAGGmate is on the mid-high end of the iPad accessory category. But it’s comparable to the official Apple options above. It’s really up to you to decide.

Carrying around either the Apple Keyboard Dock or the Wireless Keyboard/iPad Dock combo will be an extra burden compared to the all-in-one mindset of the ZAGGmate. However, if you want a full sized keyboard, the Apple Wireless Keyboard is the way to go.

But if you want a minimal case, Bluetooth keyboard, and stand–the ZAGGmate is the clear winner here. The ease of use and portability is hands down the best on the market right now. The iPad fits snugly and the keyboard is extremely useful. If you’re one of those people that like to carry your iPad “naked”, you’re going to enjoy the ZAGGmate. Limited pre-orders have started to ship.

Click here to visit ZAGG.com to learn more about the ZAGGmate.

Screenshot gallery below:

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Posted under: Accessories, Reviews