Backstory for what led me to this point. I found myself not too long ago in a hospital bed due to an unforeseen medical incident. Laying in the bed I realized I was in a precarious position: I was unable to be productive because I had no access to a desktop computer. In 2014, that is unacceptable for me. So I set out to transform my iPad 3 from simply a recreation device to something I could do meaningful, productive work on. After purchasing a few new apps for writing code and prose, I learned very quickly that typing on the iPad keyboard was difficult. And typing while holding the iPad with one hand was even more difficult. I needed an external keyboard to fulfill my goal. After some time online researching and consulting with friends, I purchased what I will be reviewing for you now: the ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ Bluetooth Keyboard.
The model I purchased was for the iPad 3, but there is a model for the iPad Mini and the iPad Air as well. After removing from the package, the first thing you notice immediately about the ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ is the size of the case. It is thin and light enough to not feel bulky, while at the same time it gives a level of heft that makes you feel like the iPad will truly be protected. I am not endorsing throwing the iPad in the case down a flight of steps, but life happens, and the case is sturdy enough to provide you the confidence that a mishap will not ruin your iPad. The one I purchased was polyurethane (PU leather), and this cover offers a solid grip.
Getting the iPad in the case was easy. The case has a book like hinge, with one side holding the iPad and the other side housing the keyboard. When closed, the case is held shut with magnets. Sliding the iPad into the case is easy, and there are openings in the case that line up perfectly where they should in relationship to the iPad. The iPad fits very snug. The side with the keyboard has a scaled down version of the iMac bluetooth keyboard, with a few exceptions that I will walkthrough momentarily. This side also houses the On/Off sliding power button, and the Pair button for synching the keyboard with the iPad. The pairing process is relatively painless. Pressing the Pair button will cause the caps lock button to blink, letting you know the keyboard is ready for pairing. On your iPad, click settings > Bluetooth > ON. You will see the caps lock light blink again, and the iPad will display “ZAGGkeys PROfolio+” as an available bluetooth device. Simply select the device to complete the pairing process.
The keyboard is a scaled down but fully inclusive keyboard, similar to the bluetooth keyboard that comes with desktop Mac products. This keyboard does include some Mac specific buttons. At the top of the keyboard layout are hotkeys, including a home button, an iPad search button, a keyboard button to bring up the virtual keyboard, copy-and-paste buttons, a lock button, a photo slideshow starter, and media control buttons. Working your way down, the keyboard has a typical qwerty layout. The bottom row has the battery button with light indications for battery levels (green, yellow, red). I cannot speak for battery life, but the manual claims a full charge will last for months of normal use, with 2 hours daily use being the baseline for “normal.” There is a lightbulb button that allows you to change the color for your backlit keys: red, yellow, green, teal, blue, purple, or white. There are less expensive versions without the backlit keys, but I have a tendency to work in bed, so this was a feature I needed.
The ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ really nailed it with functionality. With the virtual keyboard, multiple character keys require a 2-3 step process to reach them, parentheses being an example. One touch accessibility of these characters is essential for efficiently typing in scripting or programming languages. Some of the text editor apps I use already addresses this by adding a fourth row of keys on the virtual keyboard. For people that do not have similar apps installed, having all of the character keys available on this keyboard with one touch alleviates that pain point. And for those of us using those text editor apps, that fourth row is still on the bottom of the iPad screen, in the event there are function keys we still need access to. People with larger hands may find the layout cramped, but no more cramped than the virtual keyboard. The island keys themselves, while slightly scaled down in size compared to other laptop or desktop keyboards, offer the necessary surface area to type successfully. The keys provide good pushback when typing, so it does not feel like you are using a gimmick keyboard. Holding down the ‘alt option’ button and hitting different keys reveals additional, lesser used symbols. The ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ truly transforms your iPad into a workstation.
The only glaring opportunity I see for the ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ is that it only holds the iPad in landscape view. While for me personally this is not an issue, people using “portrait view only” apps will have to move the iPad out of the docking slot and physically turn the iPad into portrait view to enjoy those apps as they were meant to be. Users addicted to Instagram or Words With Friends may find that a turn off. Outside of that quirk, I have been more than satisfied with my purchase. I am a heavy user, and I have been typing on this for several hours now with no issues. This entire article was typed on the ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ with no issues. The only other potential deterrent I see for purchasing one is price point. I paid 129.99 for mine brand new, and there other less expensive models and similar products out there. In most of my online and peer research, however, the ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ was the overwhelming highest rated, and my peers are what would be considered heavy users or power users. Thus far, my first hand experience is equaling the testimonials I have read and heard.
If you do not depend extensively on portrait view only apps and have the available funds, the ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ is the way to go if you are in the market for an external keyboard for your iPad.
Tech Specs courtesy of Zagg.com
Length: 7.5 inches (191mm)
Width: 9.75 inches (248mm)
Depth: 0.81 inches (21mm)
Weight: 16 ounces (454 grams)
Battery Type: Bluetooth keyboard uses a 510 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery.
Battery Duration: Battery will last several months of normal use without charging. (baseline for normal use is 2 hours daily)