In recent months, I’ve reviewed several ZAGG keyboard cases for Apple iPads. The ZAGG Folio was the keyboard case that finally convinced me my iPad Mini could actually be useful as a productivity tool. The Rugged Book let me turn an iPad Air into a kids’ laptop, perfect for school and with toughness to survive being carted around in a bag and suffering the occasional collision with a wall or piece of furniture. ZAGG sent me their latest iteration, the Slim Book, and I have to say, this is the best one yet. A keyboard case that combines the best elements of the Folio and the Rugged Book, and an aluminum finish that transforms an iPad Mini into a miniature — but functional — iPad Air clone.
And it has a sharper display than my 11-inch MBA!
From the Rugged Book
One of the key features from the Rugged Book is incorporated in the ZAGG Slim Book. Instead of a straight, hinged clamshell case, the Slim Book uses the magnetic two-piece design that worked so well with the Rugged Book.
This means you pop the iPad Mini into the top cover, which then acts as a standalone protective shell. It doesn’t have the bulky armor of the Rugged Book so it’s not going to save your iPad if you hold it over your head and drop it onto pavement, but it will offer protection against scratches and bumps.
The cover firmly attaches to a magnetic hinge on the keyboard, becoming the familiar clamshell form factor, with enough range of motion to adjust it for pretty much any viewing situation. You can also reverse the display (facing outward) for use as a video presentation stand. The hinge has no play, smooth action during operation and stays the way you adjust it. The case supports Apple’s auto-wake.
ZAGG also claims the same two-year battery life. I don’t have a way of compressing two years of test time into a few weeks, so all I can say is that based on my experience with the Rugged Book and the Folio (which only claims three months between charges), battery life is not going to be an issue with this device.
From the ZAGG Folio
This latest iPad keyboard case has the slim form factor of the ZAGG Folio and its top case is just as easy to pop the iPad in and out of. The tablet is held securely, but keeping installation and removal so free of fuss is a big win.
Mind you, with the detachable “display” half, the need to remove the iPad is much less than with the Folio, but having the option if I want to go with a minimalist Smart Cover instead is something I appreciate. I recently had an Otterbox iPad case to play with and removing the tablet from that was both time-consuming and a test of nerves.
Like the other two cases, the Slim Book has backlit keys (a huge plus in my books), iOS function keys and uses a Bluetooth connection. Typing is an excellent experience — at least for a keyboard this small — with enough travel on the keys to make it a reasonable facsimile of the real thing. I can be quite productive on the Slim Case and used it to write the majority of this review.
What I Would Change?
Very little, frankly. I really like this case. The top lid could use some texturing — it seems a little more slippery that the iPad it’s protecting. And somewhere along the way, the Slim Book lost the ability to change the color of the keyboard backlight — at least I can’t find the control or mention of it. That’s a small quibble, but I miss the ability to light the keyboard up with a spooky green glow. Finally, like the ZAGG Folio, the Slim Book lacks the weight in the keyboard half that the Rugged Book has; it’s quite stable on a flat surface, but if using it on your lap (like a true laptop) the iPad can make the whole ensemble a tad top-heavy.
It’s worth noting that my iPad Mini with Retina Display (recently renamed the iPad Mini 2) is also protected by ZAGG’s Invisible Shield Glass (a great product in itself, as Z will attest to) and the added layer of glass does not interfere at all in the use of the case. Also, the brushed aluminum-look keyboard half of the case is constructed of what appears to be actual aluminum and not painted plastic.
ZAGG Slim Book is coming soon for iPad Air, iPad Air 2 ($129.99), iPad Mini 1,2 and 3 ($119.99).
Disclosure: ZAGG provided a Slim Book for iPad Mini review unit.