ZAGGkeys Proplus for iPad Review

28 01 2013

ZAGGkeys Proplus 1

I have been using an iPad with a standalone Apple Bluetooth keyboard as a laptop replacement for a little over six months now. A good tablet/keyboard combination can be as a great productivity device for the majority of people, with added benefits such as instant-on functionality and built in 4G connectivity. Though one thing has been bugging me with my setup lately, portability. There just isn’t an easy way to carry around both an iPad and a separate keyboard without some sort of custom case or bag. Sure, it’s not terribly inconvenient, but enough to where I won’t bring the keyboard with me 95% of the time when running out because it’s just not easy. But now, this concern may be eliminated with the ZAGGkeys Proplus. This ultra-thin Bluetooth keyboard adds the utility an external keyboard to the convenience of a magnetic-attaching cover. This ZAGGkeys Proplus keyboard was provided for review purposes by ZAGG, and is available through the ZAGG website.

ZAGGkeys Proplus

In the box

  • ZAGGkeys Proplus for iPad
  • USB to microUSB charging cable
  • Various documentation

Features

  • Compatible with the iPad 2, new iPad (3rd Gen) and iPad 4
  • Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity
  • Patented, compact keyboard design with island-style keys for fast and accurate typing
  • Intuitive built-in stand holds iPad at optimum viewing angle
  • Innovative magnetic closure
  • Auto on/off magnet for quick start up and shut down
  • Rechargeable built-in keyboard battery lasts months between charges

Specifications

  • Length: 9.64 inches (245mm)
  • Width: 7.4 inches (189mm)
  • Depth: 0.24 inches (7mm)
  • Weight: 15.3 ounces (434 grams)
  • Compatibility: Apple iPad 2, 3 or 4
  • Battery Type: ZAGGfolio Bluetooth 3.0 keyboard uses a 510 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery.
  • Battery Duration: battery will last for months on normal use without charging.

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Battery

The ZAGGkeys Proplus uses a long-life, lithium-polymer rechargeable battery that offers several weeks of normal use with just 1500mAh.  ZAGG claims that the 1,500mAh battery can last from 10 to 55 hours of continuous use, depending on brightness settings. The keyboard goes into sleep mode if it’s left on and not being used. Press any key and wait a second or two to bring the keyboard out of sleep mode.

The battery has no memory, so ZAGG says you can charge it at any time.  Of course they recommend you turn the keyboard off when not in use, but with such low power consumption, it really doesn’t matter.  A status button on the keyboard lets you know how it’s doing which lights up to either green, yellow or red to indicate 100-50%, 50-20% or below 20% charge respectively.  Keep in mind that when you get to the 20% area, this means 2-4 days before it shuts down for typical use.  Clearly, this is the power-users dream battery scenario, and honestly, you’ll never find yourself worrying about the battery. When the battery finally does run out, a complete charge takes only 2-4 hours.

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Special Function Keys

You’ll notice with any of the ZAGG keyboards, a lot of special iPad function keys.  From the cut/copy/paste buttons to the Home and Lock keys, ZAGG took care to put on options that would be the most used, and most practical for the iPad.  The lock button in particular was very nice to have, as I regularly turn the screen on and off during the day. Also, the search button made launching of apps nice and quick, with spotlight search as my preferred way to find and launch my program of choice.

Use and Results

I picked up the third generation iPad the day it was released, and have had it in a leather folio almost the entire time I’ve owned it. This provides a good combination of a professional look to the device, and a bit protection from scratches and bumps against things. It goes with me to nearly every meeting and whenever I leave the house thanks to the built-in LTE connectivity.

About six months ago, I got rid my MacBook Air in an effort to streamline my devices. To offset the lack of on-the-go productivity from not having a physical keyboard, I picked up an Apple Bluetooth keyboard to use when necessary. For the most part, the setup is good, as the Apple keyboards are well built and generally very comfortable. But when it comes to taking the keyboard with me, there aren’t a lot of options out there for good cases that incorporate it with the iPad.

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So, when I first saw the ZAGGkeys Pro and Proplus keyboards at CES this year, I knew instantly that this was a keyboard I needed to try. It’s incredibly lightweight, and acts as a very nice companion to the iPad with the magnetic enclosure that secures to the iPad and protects the screen. While similar to the Logitech Ultrathin, instead of a magnetic hinge, the Proplus has a magnetic gray plastic lip and to hold the iPad in place.

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The lighted keyboard on the Proplus model of the ZAGGkeys is something that most other external Bluetooth keyboards don’t provide. It’s a touch that makes it look a little more professional, even Apple-like in design. The way most of us use our mobile devices varies, but the back-lighting of keys ensures that you’ll be able to use the device in any environment without the need for external light sources.

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The integrated stand/”central groove” holds the iPad at a good viewing angle to promote ease of use for text entry or media consumption either in portrait or landscape mode. In my testing though, the iPad is too heavy to have propped in portrait mode, and it wasn’t stable enough to leave in this orientation.

I also found out the hard way that you have to use gentle pressure on the iPad screen when it’s on the stand. An overzealous pull-to-refresh on the email had the iPad crashing down behind the keyboard. Good news though, no damage to the iPad, and attempts to replicate the issue were met with pretty significant resistance. Also, use care when moving the iPad around, as it can easily come fall backwards out of the groove.

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For actual use of the keyboard, I have to compare it to what I’ve been using, the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Granted, the size of the ZAGG keys are about half of that on the Apple unit, but the responsiveness is quite nice. I found that after just a few minutes of practice, my fingers were used to the size. Typing was quick, and I was able to hit 78wpm, just off my average 80-85wpm on the Apple keyboard.

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Overall, the quality of the Proplus is very good. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the unit I received initially from ZAGG had a defect in the “,” key. Note from the photo above that the key is cocked to the right a bit. I can get it to sit flush, but as soon as it’s depressed, it becomes “popped up” again. To their credit, ZAGG quickly acknowledged the issue, and sent me out a replacement.

Overall

Like the previous models of the ZAGGfolio, the ZAGGkeys Proplus is light enough to take with you most places, and adds the convenience of a magnetic enclosure to attach to the iPad like a Smart Cover. When you’re on the go, and need to have a full size keyboard ready to use immediately, the combination of an iPad and the ZAGGkeys Proplus makes a great portable content creation machine. With it’s lightweight design and backlit keyboard, the ZAGGkeys Proplus is one of the most comfortable and practical iPad keyboards on the market today.

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Cell Junkie cases for iPhone review

18 12 2012

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Phone cases are a personal decision, and finding one that matches your taste and style can often be a difficult task. If unique is what you’re after, Cell Junkie offers specialized phone cases with  beautiful artwork on them that stands out from the others at reasonable prices. Let’s take a look at their latest offerings for the iPhone.

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Combining imagery with protection, these form-fitting hard plastic cases are printed using exclusive photography. Comfortable to hold, these lightweight and durable cases allow access to all sensors, ports, and controls on your iPhone. Compatible with Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T models of the iPhone 4/4S, these cases will fit your device regardless of carrier.

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With a device like the iPhone, the thin footprint of the phone is something you want to maintain. Yet the glass front and back are susceptible to scratches, drops and other accidents if not protected. The Cell Junkie cases feature a two piece snap-on style that reduces bulk, and covers the most susceptible areas for damage well.

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Overall, the cases offered by Cell Junkie are great options for those looking to have their phone stand out from the crowd, while adding a minimal amount of weight and bulk to the device.

More information is available at Cell Junkie.com.

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Otterbox Defender Series for iPad Mini Review

8 11 2012

The iPad Mini has been one of the most rumored, talked about, and now coveted Apple products in recent memory. The idea of having the full iPad OS in a smaller, thinner and lighter package is the true definition of a portable tablet for many. But once you get the tablet in your hands, you’ll likely feel that if this device is really going to go everywhere with you, it’ll need a case to keep it protected. Just days after the iPad Mini was released by Apple, Otterbox made their Defender Series case available. Let’s take a look at the latest company’s latest offering, and see if this could be the right way to keep your new iPad Mini safe while on the go.

About the Otterbox Defender Series

The engineers at Otterbox developed the Defender Series iPad mini case to create the most usable and protective solution possible. The inner shell of the iPad mini case is constructed from impact resistant polycarbonate that includes a padded-foam interior that has shock absorbing properties and protects the back of your iPad from scuffs and scrapes. A screen protector is built into the polycarbonate shell to protect against scratches without compromising sensitivity. The outer layer is made from rugged silicone and absorbs impact while the textured exterior provides added grip. Finally, a shield stand acts as a protective cover to either the front or back of the case and doubles as a stand for typing or viewing.

Otterbox Defender Series – Features and Design

Putting a case on a tablet as thin as the iPad Mini almost feels wrong at first. You have this amazingly svelte device that is beautiful to look at, and you want to cover it up with plastic and rubber? But start using the Mini for a while, and like any non-pocketable device, you’ll be setting it down on tables, benches, and even the floor. You quickly realize that to keep the anodized aluminum scratch and ding free, you either have to be extremely careful, or some level protection is required.

Apple offers the Smart Cover, and I picked one up on launch day to test out. While it does cover the back of the iPad when flipped open, it offers little in the way of actual device protection. It really is more of a accessory to take advantage of the magnets that turn the screen on and off than anything else. Further, the smaller size of the mini and redesign of the hinge have cheapened the Smart Cover’s feel, and I immediately knew something different was needed for day to day use.

Design wise, the Defender series comes with the shield stand that lets you prop the iPad when in a stationary position. This is useful for watching video or touch-typing on the screen. The shield is also handy for covering the screen from keys or other sharp objects when placed inside of a bag.

In real-world use, I found the shield stayed in one place, usually my desk, while I went about my business carrying the iPad around the house or to and from meetings. Using the Mini in portrait mode to type out emails or other text is very comfortable, and I found that using it with the Defender installed didn’t detract from this use. In fact, the smooth rounded edges, and grip of the silicone on the case were helpful to provide a more solid feel.

The cutouts around the camera, ports and speakers are precise, and everything works as you’d expect. Since this is the high-end Defender Series, there are silicone flaps covering many of the switches and ports, keeping dust and debris from entering the device.

Overall

If ultimate protection is your main concern with your iPad Mini, the Defender Series from Otterbox is sure to fill the need. While any case adds thickness and bulk to a tablet, the thin and light footprint of the Mini feels “just right” in your hands even with added protection. The added portability of the iPad Mini will have you taking it with you more places than a traditional iPad, and Otterbox will keep you feeling safe and secure along the way.

The cases used in this review were provided by Otterbox.

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Otterbox Commuter and Defender Series for iPhone 5 Review

4 10 2012

Otterbox makes some of the most popular choices out there for keeping personal electronics safe in even the roughest conditions. The Commuter and Defender series cases provide complete device protection, with multiple layers of coverage and plenty of options for all tastes and styles. Let’s take a look at the latest offerings for the new iPhone 5.

Otterbox Commuter Series – Features and Design

The OtterBox Commuter Series has three slim, yet sturdy layers of protection. With a moderate form factor and smooth outer layer, this case slides easily in and out of a pocket, purse or bag. The package comes with a screen protector, rubber membrane, and rigid plastic shell. The case is easy to put on and take off without much hassle, and you’ll find precision cutouts for all ports, holes, buttons and lenses.

The Commuter Series has been one of my favorites for quite a while. I have used it on iPhones going back to the 3GS, and find the protection it offers as little compromise to the thickness it adds to the device. The only gripes about the iPhone 5 version are related to the attention to detail. I found the seams on the outside of the case to be a bit rough on my hands, and the rubber membrane didn’t fit quite right. Note the slight gap on the side of the screen. Granted, the plastic shell is not on to hold everything together, but this is out of character for Otterbox and their typically near-perfect fit. Hopefully these two items are just early production kinks that will work themselves out.

Otterbox Defender Series – Features and Design

As with all Defender Series cases, you’ll find 3 layers of protection. First, a thin, clear membrane covers your Touch Screen to help prevent scratches and dings. Second is a hard, Polycarbonate skeleton that surrounds the phone. Wrapped around all of this is a Silicone skin that absorbs bump and shock. Also included with the case is a Clip-Stand holster.

Having reviewed the Defender in the past, I had a preconceived notion before this review that it was going to be too bulky for my taste. Fortunately, because of the incredible thinness of the iPhone 5, the Defender actually feels quite nice when installed. I personally don’t like the screen protection that is built into the case, but for those that are looking for the toughest of cases, no need to look any further.

Overall

Overall, both the Commuter and the Defender Series cases from Otterbox are solid choices. I always anticipate their cases when the new iPhone comes out, looking forward to see what they’ve done. Whether you’re prone to drops, or just want to keep your investment safe, Otterbox has two solid options for the new iPhone 5.

The cases used in this review were provided by Otterbox.

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ZAGGfolio for iPad 2 Review

11 02 2012

Recently, I’ve spent time seriously considering how someone could replace their laptop with a tablet.  I’ve seen a lot of Bluetooth keyboards, but I always go back to “if I’m going to carry around a separate keyboard, I might as well just carry a laptop.”  Case in point, I have an Apple Bluetooth keyboard that collects dust in my drawer because I refuse to carry one more thing when going places.  It’s a compact device for a reason, and I don’t want to be encumbered with another piece.  So when I met with ZAGG at CES this year, the ZAGGfolio for iPad 2 caught my eye.  The all-in-one keyboard/cover/stand from ZAGG is ideal for use on the go.  It provides functionality, protection, and a comfortable working experience, all in a single package.

To really put the ZAGGfolio to the test, I wanted to create, edit and post this entire review exclusively on the iPad.  That means all text, formatting and media insertion would be happening right here using the keyboard.  Basically, the ability to do everything I do for a full review right on the tablet.  I’ll reveal at the end if I was able to achieve this goal.  Available directly from ZAGG, the device used in this review was provided by ZAGG.

Manufacturer installation demonstration video

In the box

  • ZAGGfolio for iPad 2 with removable Bluetooth wireless keyboard (battery included)
  • USB to microUSB charging cable
  • Various documentation

Specifications

  • Weight: 19 ounces (539 grams)
  • Keyboard only: 11.5 ounces (326 grams)
  • Folio only: 7.5 ounces (213 grams)
  • Length: 9.75 inches (247 mm)
  • Width: 7.625 inches (193 mm)
  • Depth: .9 inches (23 mm)
  • Works with Apple iPad 2
  • Battery Type: ZAGGfolio Bluetooth 3.0 keyboard uses a 510 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery.
  • Battery Duration: battery will last several weeks of normal use without charging.

Full list of features (from ZAGG)

Setup

As with most Bluetooth devices, the setup is fairly simple. Turn on the folio and press the connect button to put it into pairing mode.  Then, go into Bluetooth settings on the iPad and select ‘ZAGG Keyboard’.  Type in the unique code shown on the iPad screen, and paring is complete.  Since the folio is used as a case, the iPad slides in with minimal effort.  A center groove in the folio lets the iPad rest securely while in use, and rubber bumpers around the metal keyboard keep the iPad screen safe while the folio is closed.

Battery

The ZAGGfolio uses a long-life, lithium-polymer rechargeable battery that offers several weeks of normal use with just 510 mAh. The keyboard goes into sleep mode if it’s left on and not being used. Press any key and wait a second or two to bring the keyboard out of sleep mode.  The battery has no memory, so ZAGG says you can charge it at any time.  Of course they recommend you turn the keyboard off when not in use, but with the low power consumption, it really doesn’t matter.  A status light on the keyboard lets you know when you’re down to approximately 20% battery remaining.  This means not hours, rather, you’ll have 2-4 days before it shuts down.  Clearly the power-users dream battery scenario, honestly, you’ll never find yourself worrying about the battery.

Special Function Keys

Upon inspection of the keyboard, I noticed a lot of special function keys, mostly on the top row.  From the cut/copy/paste buttons to the Home and Lock keys, ZAGG took care to put on options that would be the most used, and most practical for the iPad specifically.  The lock button in particular was very nice to have, as I regularly turn the screen on and off during the day, and a dedicated keyboard button made this particularly easy.  Also, the search button made launching of apps nice and quick, with the spotlight search is my preferred way to find and launch my program of choice.

Use and Results

Using the ZAGGfolio is where things get interesting.  When I first opened the package, I was surprised at how relatively heavy it felt.  The keyboard is a solid piece of aluminum and the case is a soft touch ABS hard-shell case wrapped in leather with a microfiber interior lining.  At 19 ounces, the ZAGGfolio nearly doubles the iPad 2’s weight of 21 ounces when attached.  This is often one of the downfalls with any iPad case, and something to consider when purchasing.  You’ve got this sleek, light tablet that is completely vulnerable to drops.  Start thinking about protection, and you’re going to cover the whole thing up and make it feel like a book with a case.

Once I had the keyboard paired and the iPad slid into the folio, I realized two things.  First, the iPad is now very well protected.  With a smart cover from Apple, you’re only covering the screen.  Using the ZAGGfolio, the entire iPad is now wrapped, and is well protected.  The second observation is  that you’re pretty much now restricted to use in landscape mode.  Basically, you’re not going to be doing ebook reading in bed with the ZAGGfolio attached, and simple “tablet” use is too unwieldy with a full physical keyboard.  Though, my purpose of this review was to determine if it would be possible for someone to use the iPad as a laptop replacement.  Plus, the iPad slides in and out fairly easily, so, I didn’t have too many reservations about this setup, just something to consider.

Regarding the keyboard itself.  While the keys are smaller than on a laptop, the spacing is such that it’s still quite decent.  In fact, the black chiclet keys reminded me of the MacBook Air, and even a closeup image of them (below) has even me doing a double take when I see it.

In my day to day use, I found I was using the iPad much more than I had in the past.  Whether it was processing emails, corresponding over iMessage, or just using it while in meetings, the full keyboard was a nice thing to have.  However, as soon as I got home, my use plummeted.  I rarely considered pulling it out, as the mental block about having the keyboard on it had me thinking “do I really need a full keyboard right now”, and I’d reach for a smartphone instead.  Sure, it’s easy enough to remove the iPad from the folio, but then, I’d want to put my snap on case back on it to protect it from the mayhem that is my life.  This seemingly minimal inconvenience tells me something about my use of a tablet.  I’d much rather have the keyboard during the day for getting work done, but when 5pm hits, a plain tablet is more my speed.

Overall

After a few weeks of using the ZAGGfolio, and composing this review while using it, I’m happy to say it easily met my expectations of what I need out of a laptop.  At the beginning of this review, I said I wanted to complete the entire thing from the iPad.  Well, I made it about 95% of the way.  Thanks to the WordPress app on the iPad, the text entry and media insertion were a breeze.  Further simplified with PhotoStream, I took all the photos with my iPhone 4S, and then selected them for insertion on the iPad.  What I couldn’t easily do was the insertion of bullet points and the YouTube video at the top.  Though, this clearly is a limitation of the app, not the ZAGGfolio.

Most of what I do while on the go is text based, and a full qwerty keyboard of the ZAGGfolio makes the iPad as useful for 90% of the tasks as my MacBook Air.  Further, I love the instant-on abilities of a tablet, and think that for the vast majority of people, a tablet makes much more sense than a laptop for their next purchase.  Truth be told, the ZAGGfolio had me reconsidering the need for my laptop, as I was able to connect remotely to a desktop for the times when I needed a full desktop app experience.  The bottom line is if you’re trying to figure out what your next computer purchase will be, but web based services and internet browsing are going to be your primary uses, a tablet with the ZAGGfolio is a better option.  Offering protection, efficiency and utility, the ZAGGfolio for iPad 2 provides you with it all.

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