A few months back I was in Boston interviewing a number of companies in the tech space and just before one of my interviews I was reading about the Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG for iPad 2 and I was intrigued. I thought having a real keyboard connected to the iPad 2 was a great pain reliever for my fingers which ache when hitting glass repeatedly but I worried the addition would limit my ability to use the tablet while standing. Quite often in my office I find myself using the iPad and I figured a fixed aluminum keyboard would make this practice cease.
Owen DeLong of Hurricane Electric is an iPv6 evangelist but I found him equally good at evangelizing why I needed a bluetooth keyboard from Zagg for my iPad 2. At first I wasn’t convinced and instead thought the new TouchFire silicon keyboard would be the best choice for my aching fingers. I even wrote about my decision to buy this keyboard and Owen commented that the beauty of the bluetooth Logitech option was you could view the entire screen while typing.
My interview with Owen Delong
He is correct and at that point I decided to purchase the Logitech as well. After charging the device via Micro-USB for over an hour you get a few weeks’ worth of battery life with light to moderate use. The case is great because it uses the magnets of the iPad and turns the tablet off when the case is used and wakes up when the tablet is lifted out of its aluminum semi-cocoon.
I feel comfortable enough with the case that I feel somewhat OK leaving the iPad in the trunk – something I would never do with the standard Apple case attached.
If there is a downside to the keyboard it is battery status information. It would be great to know when the battery was at 20% for example. There is a status light which blinks when power is low but with 2-weeks of use on a single-charge, most users will see no need to turn the keyboard off – except when they charge it. Moreover, the status light is hidden from view when the iPad 2 rests in the case.
One final challenge is if you put the iPad 2 in the case with the wrong orientation, the screen does not turn off. You have to remember to line up the hole in the case with the hole on the iPad where the 30-pin dock connector is.
Last week at ITEXPO my primary laptop died leaving me with just the iPad and Zagg combo. I certainly wasn’t as efficient as I would be with a laptop – in-part because it is easier to delete large amounts of email on the PC using Remote Desktop connected to an office machine. Moreover, finding old email on an iPad is a slow process for someone who has a very large mailbox. But the iPad was an acceptable replacement for my regular machine – which is pretty scary actually.
I say scary because many people may not see the iPad as a proper alternative to a laptop but I have found it to be a worthy replacement for much of what I do. Obviously the ability to run Flash is still an issue but the flipside is not having to worry about battery life throughout a typical day. Moreover, the iPad seems more socially acceptable on the table at lunch, in meetings and other places where a laptop may get you dirty looks.
As you can imagine, in exchange for the ability to have a more pleasant typing experience and producing content more quickly, I am no longer able to easily use the iPad while standing and/or walking. It is not impossible - just a bit awkward.
The keyboard/case combo will set you back $100 on the Zagg site, about $80 including shipping on Amazon and a refurbished unit will cost you $50 including shipping on Meritline. I have used Meritline quite often in the past and never had a problem but never bought a refurb from them. Quantities are limited according to the company so you may want to act fast.