So I briefly took a look at the Zagg Rugged Book for iPad Air 2 last night and threw up some initial thoughts. Now, I would like to actually give some real thoughts after using it a bit more for working on emails, Reddit posts and replies as well as more blog posts. First of all, it is so nice having a full keyboard to use and still see the whole screen rather than being stuck with the on-screen keyboard. This is like having a full laptop rather than a tablet. It is not a full-sized keyboard, but that is not possible because of the size of the iPad in comparison to a full keyboard. Even the Apple wireless keyboard, which is one of the smallest full-sized keyboards is wider than the iPad. That’s ok, because it is so much better than being stuck with the on-screen keyboard.
When I was looking for keyboards to add to my iPad, I had a few requirements. First, it had to work with my Zagg Glass screen protector. I have not bought cases if they do not work. I love my Glass, and will keep it on. This is the number one requirement. I tried 7 different types from Zagg and Logitech and a few other manufactures. Second, I wanted some protection to be offered. My goal was to take the setup on my motorcycle trips and actually update my blogs while on the road. While I have a nice dry spot for the electronics, I wanted them to be safe from drops and such. Waterproof was not a requirement. Also, it needed to have good battery life so I wasn’t having to constantly worry about charging it while on the road. Finally, I needed to be able to use it as a stand or remove the keyboard completely.
The Zagg Rugged Book is the only one that met all my requirements. The fact it was rugged and came apart was great. I didn’t have to worry about a drop or the vibrations from the bike. The next few paragraphs will show and tell the different modes.
First is the standard typing setup, where the iPad and keyboard are set up to use like a standard laptop. The henge where the iPad sits is nice and stiff, and the connection points are magnetic, making it easily removable. Being able to vary the screen angle is key to comfort. Also, for low light or night typing, you can turn on key backlighting. It works well enough. Personally, I won’t be using that much, but it is nice to know the feature is available.
Next, we have the movie or stand setup. This puts the keyboard behind the iPad allowing the use of it without hitting any keys. It is pretty much just a stand at this point. Again, the magnetic base and ability to adjust the angles for viewing are key. To set this up, you open the clamshell and pull the iPad case part out of the base. Just turn it backwards and put it back in the base. Now you are ready for movies and shows.
At this point, if you fold the iPad down, effectively closing it, the screen is facing out. You can now just work with it as a tablet. It will be thicker than normal, because the keyboard and case are much thicker, but all pieces will be in one place and in your hands. This is where you will actually start to really feel the weight. The case and keyboard will add almost a pound to the overall weight. This doesn’t bother me, personally. The features far outweigh the extra weight. You can also see that it makes the iPad right at an inch thick.
If you don’t need the keyboard, and just want to use the tablet, pull it off the base. You will cut off most of the weight (the keyboard has the battery and circuits which is what gives it the bulk and weight) and it is at a half inch thick. The keyboard can either sit beside you, in a backpack or whatever.
Now, for the use. Typing on it is as easy as using a laptop. There are even functional arrow keys and shortcut key combinations for moving to the beginning of a word, sentence, line or even page all work. It uses the standard Apple keyboard setup, just like the iPad. Along with that, you have media keys, volume keys, as well as a Home and Lock button as well as mic button. Search and Safari buttons are also present, all along the top of the keyboard. Pairing with Bluetooth is very easy, just open the Settings -> Bluetooth on the iPad, press the Power then Bluetooth button on the keyboard and the selection comes up on the iPad. Once paired, they will stay that way. While it takes a second for the pairing to reconnect once the iPad is woken up, it will generally be before you are really ready to start typing. See the image below for a shot of just the keyboard.
As for the typing itself, it is a little cramped for me, but I have large hands and fingers. Smaller hands will have it easier, but it hasn’t stopped me from using the hell out of it. This whole article was written using the keyboard. I mean, why not use the device you are reviewing, right? It has worked like a charm, and I am just about as fast as I would be on a normal keyboard. This is definitely a great addition for my mobile processing kit.
Overall I will give the device 4.5 out of 5 stars. I think they could have made it lighter, but that is not a deal-breaker for me in any way. It isn’t like I am going to be holding it with one hand while typing with the other. Below are some photos showing it closed. And in all the photos, the pen is there for scale.