Zagg combines an amazing shell case and responsive keyboard into the Zagg slim book, the perfect iPad Pro 10.5″ accessory.
I have always been a case guy, ever since I had a device to put into a case. My earliest memory of this involved toting around my Gameboy and my Sega Game Gear in cases. This trend continued as I entered into the smartphone world in 2007, with a hip holster for my Samsung SCH-i760. When I advanced through the iPhones up to the current iPhone X, I used cases by Catalyst, Otterbox and a variety of case makers. I received my first iPad, the iPad 2, in 2011 and then did not upgrade again until the iPad Air 2 was released in late 2014 (iPad 2 could no longer keep up). I have been happy with the iPad Air 2 up until recently, sporting an amazing waterproof Catalyst Case. At the end of 2017, I purchased an iPad Pro 10.5″ and was saddened that Catalyst did not make a case for this device. Even though I utilize Apple Care +, I like to know that my screen is protected and there is a degree of protection for the back/sides of the iPad as well.
While touring CES 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada, I was able to talk with the team from Zagg and discovered that they released the Zagg slim book in November 2017. The table was abuzz with interest, at the nighttime press event, and I had to test this device personally. The front of the 8 1/4 inches wide by 11 1/8 inches tall by 1 9/16 inches thick retail box displays a very realistic image of the Zagg slim book. The main background color is clean white and has yellow accents that continue onto the top, bottom and sides. The device is made specifically for your iPad Pro 10.5″ and has a plethora of features to enjoy: Apple Pencil holder, Laptop style keys, Multi-Pairing, Detachable case, and seven backlit key colors. The top/sides did not provide any additional information, but the bottom did provide information about the 1-year warranty and legal information. The back of the package did a great job at pictorially representing the four modes of the case: keyboard mode, case mode, video mode and book mode. The packaging only fueled my desire to dive into the product.
The magnetic flap (your right) easily lifted away from the packaging and allowed me to open the packaging like a book. Towards your left, you can see an exploded-image of the case/keyboard and information detailing the above-listed features/modes. To the right, you will see the keyboard and can directly observe the laptop quality keys. The installation steps were listed along the bottom of the cardboard and were incredibly easy to follow. All I had to do was remove the keyboard from the packaging, then the lid, place the tablet into the lid and then place the lid on the keyboard cradle. The keyboard measured 7 5/8 inches wide by 10 inches long by 5/8 inches thick and when combined with the lid, measured 11/16 inches thick. Along the top of the keyboard is a 7 1/2 inch long channel that will accommodate the tablet/lid. Along the bottom edge of the lid, you will find the magnetic keyboard attachment points and an Apple Pencil Holder at the top edge.
I was amazed at how easily and securely the iPad Pro 10.5″ slid into the lid. The iPad should be oriented such that the camera and flash fit into the triangular cutout of the case. If you are uncertain about the orientation, there is also a small cutout along the base of the lid, for the lightning adaptor. Once inside of the lid (CASE MODE), the case/iPad duo and keyboard snapped easily and snuggly together (Keyboard Mode). Honestly, the connection between the devices proved strong enough that it seemed like they were never meant to be separated. However, if you open the lid to a 90-degree angle and grip one corner with your hand, you can gently pull upwards to separate the case from the keyboard. The magnets provided the means for a secure fit, yet allowed easy separation. The case also uses magnets to provide a similar experience to the Apple Smart Cover. Once the iPad/backing are attached to the closing hinge, the iPad/Keyboard can close like a MacBook Pro. When you close the device, it will conveniently put the iPad into sleep mode. When you open the case, the screen will turn on. Again, this was an awesome feature.
To utilize the features of the keyboard, I had to first pair the keyboard and iPad via Bluetooth. Setting up the Bluetooth connection was as easy as pressing the power button located at the top right and then holding the “Bluetooth 1” key at the top left for three seconds. Once the keyboard was actively searching for its pair, I navigated to Settings, Bluetooth and then selected the “Zagg slim book” from the list. It is important to note that the keyboard is not a full-size keyboard, rather it is more like a netbook-style keyboard. The keys are responsive, without any noticeable lag, and they have a pleasing click-feel. All of the keys that you would expect to find on a MacBook Pro keyboard were included. The QWERTY keyboard letters were evenly spaced and easily accessible but spaced closer together than a full-sized keyboard.
The main strength of the keyboard lies with the special function keys. To start, press the function button (fn) located along the bottom left. If you hold the function button and touch the ctrl (battery power) button, the power button in the top right will flash and indicate three green flashes (>50% power), three yellow flashes (25-49% power), or three red flashes (<25% power). If you press the fn key and the down arrow, you will activate the keyboard’s backlit feature. If you continue to hold fn and press the down arrow, you will cycle between low, medium, high, off. While the light is active, if you hold the fn button and press the right arrow, the backlight colors will cycle between green, light green (yellow), red, purple, white, dark blue, light blue (aqua).
Located along the row above the number keys, you will find the Bluetooth 1, Bluetooth 2, Home button, lock button, Launchpad button, Keyboard Language button, Tablet Keyboard show/hide button, rewind, play/pause, fast forward, mute, volume down, volume up and power buttons. Each of the buttons and special buttons provided an additive effect on the overall experience. I was very pleased with the weight, with the feel and with the keyboard features. Even though I do not think that I will use the feature, I love that Zagg included the ability to pair a second device. With this feature, you can utilize the keyboard as a separate Bluetooth keyboard for your iPhone or for another iPad.
The back of the lid and keyboard had a very pleasant ribbed/rubberized fabric texture, enhancing the grip for the user. Even though this may seem to be a minor feature, I would argue that it was the most important feature of the device. The iPad Pro 10.5″, without the case, was incredibly thin and slick. However, when you hold either the closed keyboard/iPad combo or the separated iPad backing/case, the ribbed feature allowed me to more confidently carry my device. The packaging promised four modes, but I only found three. You can place the case on the keyboard facing towards (Keyboard Mode) or away from the keyboard (Video Mode) or you can separate the case from the keyboard (Case Mode). I did not find a difference between Case Mode and Book Mode and felt that this was a bit of a stretch.
I was told by numerous people that the Smart Apple Cover, Smart Keyboard, and the Apple Pencil were the devices that every user of an iPad Pro 10.5″ needed. After testing the Zagg slim book, I no longer wanted either the Apple Smart Cover or the Keyboard. The pencil, on the other hand, was essential. If you are looking for an amazing addition to your iPad Pro 10.5″, look no further than the Zagg slim book. I would rate the device at 5/5 stars.
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