The following review of the ZAGGmate was emailed in by a Tii Listener.

===================

Hi Rob, and Happy New Year to you and all your listeners.

I got a ZAGGmate (www.zagg.com) a week ago and had never thought of reviewing it until I heard your request for reviews of similar devices in episode 158.

The ZAGGmate is an aluminum case that comes either as just a case or as a case with embedded Bluetooth keyboard. I got the keyboard version which I am using to type this review.

The aluminum is a little whiter and more coarsely pitted than the iPad shell but it is a close match and the two look good together.  It also seems to be a little softer than the iPad aluminum and mine has already taken a couple of nicks in the edges although I thought I was treating it with care.  You can get a ZAGG Invisible Shield specifically designed for it that will protect it from scratches and it ships with four little adesive rubber feet that you will probably have to put on the bottom of the case as it tens to slide around a little on slick table surfaces.  It is lined with rubber so it grips the iPad securely and prevents the screen from contacting the keyboard.  I don't know what will happen to my screen if I drop the closed iPad/ZAGGmate on a hard surface, but I am confident that the aluminum will protect my screen when the iPad is in a bag or backpack.  If you are out walking around with the iPad and there is no surface that you can set it up on there is no way to attach the keyboard to the back of the iPad while you are using the soft keyboard.  When closed up in the ZAGGmare my iPad is a little thicker than it is unprotected but only about half as thick as it was on my Simplism folio case and is about the same weight as when it is in the Simplism.

You pry the iPad out of the case with the tips of your fingers either at the USB connector cutout or at the cutout at the front of the keyboard that provides access to the first row of keys.  At the back of the case there is a little plastic easel that you snap into place which supports the iPad at about a 60° angle.  The iPad is inserted into a notch in front of the easel and can be inserted either in portrait or landscape mode.

The Bluetooth keyboard is as wide as the iPad is wide in portrait mode so it is a little tight but I find that I adapt to the key spacing quickly and can touch type about as well as I can on a full size keyboard.  There is adequate travel, resistance and tactile response from the keypad, which is a scissor design so feels really nice.  There are function keys across the top of the keypad which have primary functions as iPad control keys.  I say primary functions because you  have to shift to get to Function keys (which as far as I can tell are totally functionless), not the iPad functions.  Those keys are:
F1 = Home
F2 = Spotlight
F3 = enable/Disable Soft Keyboard
F4 = Screen On/Off [Boss Mode, not sleep]
F10 = iTunes Previous Track
F11 = Pause/Play
F12 = Next Track
(F13) = Mute (unnumbered Function keys)
(F14) = Decrease Volume
(F15) = Increase Volume
(F16) = Toggle through International Keyboards
(I was able to create that indented list using the tab key which didn't move me to another form field.)  Function keys F5-F9 are not used for anything but at this point they can't be assigned to anything by the user.  The jailbreak community will probably fix that shortcoming.  There are also Function, Control, Option and Command keys so many of the MacBook commands like Cut, Copy, Paste, Beginning of Line, etc. will work although I haven't taken the time to figure out which ones don't.  There are direction arrows (which are not in the inverted T formation and what give me the most problems) and an embedded numeric keyboard.  There is no noticeable lag between pressing a key and seeing the corresponding character on the iPad keyboard.

When you turn the unit on the Status LED glows red for a couple of seconds then goes out to conserve battery.  I find this disconcerting and wish that it at least flashed every minute or so to reassure me that the keyboard is still on when I am not actually using it.  My keyboard has been turned on for a week now and it still hasn't given me a low battery warning.  When battery power drops to 20% the Status LED is supposed to start flashing, although I haven't seen that yet, whereupon you are supposed to have about two days of use left before the battery is completely dead.  I haven't been able to get information on the battery technology used or how it needs to be treated for maximum life.  The battery is not designed to be user replaceable.  The keyboard goes into sleep mode after two seconds of no use and wakes up at the press of any key instantaneously.  Recharging is via a micro USB connector that can be plugged into the 10v wallwart  that came with the iPad or any other 5v powered USB connector and a completely drained battery is supposed to be nearly completely recharged in an hour.  They recommend an initial 8-hour charge.  The Power LED glows blue while the battery is charging and goes out when it has been completely charged.

Pairing is usually fast and simple.  Once the iPad and keyboard are both turned on you go into the iPad Settings>General>Bluetooth area and make sure Bluetooth is turned on and the iPad reports that it is discoverable. Press the tiny indented Bluetooth button on the ZAGGmate and the Status LED will begin to flash.  ZAGGmate will appear in the list of Bluetooth devices.  Click on the blue > button on that line and a dialog box will shortly pop up giving you a series of numbers to type on the ZAGGmate keyboard.  Type the numbers and hit enter and the keyboard is connected and the Status LED will go off.  There is an active threat on the iPad Forum (http://www.ipadforums.net/ipad-accessories/14057-personal-review-zaggmate-bluetooth-keyboard-case.html) where there have been a few reports of people having trouble with pairing.  I had a problem after I accidentally upgraded my iPad to iOS 4.2.1 but it may have been because I may have neglected the click the blue > button step.  ZAGG has a presence in that thread and was even there on Christmas day to address issues new users were having.

My main issue with the keyboard is with the F3, Soft Keyboard toggle.  I invariably get into bed and find that my soft keyboard doesn't pop up when I try to enter text in a form.  I have to get up and walk across the room with a flashlight to press the F3 button of the keyboard that is sitting on the table.  It is a small price to pay for the convenience of having a real keyboard.  It is going to make the iPad more of a content creation device and a netbook replacement.  I have noticed that when I am typing on the ZAGGmate autocorrection doesn't seem to replace words as often and I haven't decided whether it is a compatibility issue or if I have mistyped those words so often that the iPad also thinks the correct spelling is what I typed.

Sorry to be so long winded, but I guess you can tell that I like my ZAGGmate.

                                 Charlie

Category:general -- posted at: 1:01am EST
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