I'm not sure if it's fashionable to say it anymore, but I'm an admirer of Steve Jobs and of his legacy at Apple. Not a blind follower, religiously cheering every decision he ever made, but that passion to build something beautiful and ergonomic around something as cold as the computer chip, combined with a good eye for seeing where things are going in the market before others is hard not to hold in high regard.
Of course it's true that he had an amazing team at Apple (not least because they were able to put up with his well documented character flaws) who were seemingly able to cope with some of their ideas being accredited to Steve, even when he had nothing to do with the original concept. Did you know for example, that he was completely against the idea of a smartphone App Store for a long time?
What a mistake missing the App Store would have been, even if it is full of hateful fart apps. I can imagine him being pretty angry with some of the aftermarket products that we like to wrap our £500 iphones and ipads in too. Some of the accessories are truly terrible and destroy any of the beauty in the product that Apple worked hard on. I myself have been seduced by cheap ebay accessory prices and bought keyboard covers and stands etc that have not stood the test of time.
Take my early keyboard purchase for example. This is an aluminium cover with keyboard for £15 and in pictures it looks quite nice. However, in practice, since I wrote my article on it, it's sat in a draw and it's only achivement is to remind me that cheap electronics come at high environmental cost. I shan't do it again, it's junk. No more.
Okay, one more try, but this time I've gone to the other end of the market. This is the Zagg ProFolio Plus keyboard cover and it costs around £85 online.
This is a lot of money for a keyboard. My PC keyboard cost £7 and it does the job, but when it comes to producing small keyboards for tablets, if you want to do any real writing, this price seems to be where the good stuff is.
Whilst hunting, I found other good brands like this Kensington and this Logitech that had very usable keyboards, but the cases added too much weight and bulk, or on the other hand, there are some very slim and light keyboard cases like this, also from Logitech, but I found I just couldn't touch-type on them effectively.
The Zagg Profolio Plus manages to protect both the front and the back of the iPad, whilst adding only enough bulk to make the whole thing feel like a very nice ultrabook. The case itself has a leather effect to it, but to touch is a solid high grade plastic that feels of a very good quality and looks great.
All the cutouts are in place to expose the docking connector, headphone socket etc, but stangely the speaker is covered. That said, there is a slot by the speaker that appears to direct the sound forward towards the user and I wonder if the sound isn't now a touch better, having actually been coaxed in the right direction.
The keyboard itself is a pleasure to use. The keys are not quite full size, but they're close and the spacing between them makes for easy touch-typing. Like many other keyboards, there are some dedicated keys which control media playback and there are also some nice additions like cut, copy and paste keys, which improve on the touchscreen method of text editing.
The ProPlus' unique selling point is that the keys can be backlit. This really helps when typing in low light conditions and Zagg obviously know that we gadget folk like it, as they've seen fit to allow you to choose between 7 different colours! Closing the lid switches off the ipad, which is a nice touch.
One minor disappointment is that there is only one angle of rest for the screen, where some others like the Belkin Ultimate Keyboard offer more choice. That said, I'm finding the angle to be comfortable in all the situations I've tried it, including at my desk and on my lap on the sofa, but choice is always good.
Online, the keyboard comes in for some criticism by some saying that it cannot be used on their lap as the typing action forces the ipad out of the slot and the whole thing falls over. I've not found this to be the case, but if you're a bit of a violent typist, you may want to test this out for yourself.
I bought this keyboard because I like to use my ipad as my sole blogging platform. Its portablity, lovely screen and long battery life are just a few of the reasons why. The addition of the Pro Plus has only enhanced its abilities in this case and really the only compromise I'm learning to live with is that it's not that easy to keep removing the iPad from the case when I want a more traditional tablet experience. It feels like it's designed to go in there to stay.
Otherwise, the only annoyance, and I'm not sure if it's my typing style, a bluetooth thing or what, but with too much regularity, keypresses are registering twice. I ignore them and let the spellcheck sort me out, but I'd be interested to know if anyone else sees this, either with the Zagg or one of its competitors. It seems to be worst when I have lots of apps that multitask, so maybe my iPad 3 develops a stammer when it's busy!
If you want a decent keyboard for your iPad that is always there ready for some writing, I recommend the Zagg Profolio Plus. If you like the look of the keyboard, but don't want the whole case, Zagg make an interesting alternative that you can check out here.
Steve may turn in his grave at us fiddling with his designs, but that's why I fall short of Apple worship. There's nothing wrong with adapting things to suit yourself and this is a neat way for writers to do it.