Zaggmate first impressions/short review
Received my Zaggmate yesterday and have been using it pretty much continuously since, less a little sleep time. In short, great product, though it's going to cause me some other issues with my work computer.
I knew before I actually got an iPad that I was going to want some form of external keyboard. I tried the onscreen keyboard for the first generation iPad and realized that it just wouldn't work for me to do much more than super short notes. I rest my fingers on the keys when I type which causes the onscreen keyboard to just keep outputting characters :) I also use a lot of characters that are on the secondary or even tertiary keyboards, necessitating a lot of paging through the various keyboards.
I debated some of the other Bluetooth keyboards out there but decided on the Zaggmate because it provides storage for the iPad and iPad specific keys. I knew that I'd be giving up some comfort as the keyboard is smaller than the Apple wireless and most of the other Bluetooth keyboards that I looked at, but I have small hands and I've never had too much trouble getting used to different spacings (or even a split & tilted keyboard that my wife had due to chronic tendonitis.) I'm pretty sure that I made the right choice after having used the Zaggmate for a day.
First, the iPad fits *snuggly* in the Zaggmate when not in use. Very snuggly. I almost wish they had a short ribbon attached that would lever the iPad up when tugged on - it wouldn't add much weight but it would make it easier to remove the tablet. The auto-sleep feature is very nice, but the dedicated sleep key is nicer.
Pairing the iPad and keyboard was just as painless as the instructions made it out to be. Dead simple.
Typing on the keyboard is surprisingly similar to my work laptop, even though the Dell has a full sized keyboard. The feel of the Zaggmate's keys is miles ahead of cheap keyboards that I tested - not IBM/Northgate nice, but as nice as the Dell. It's much more comfortable than the hard surface of the screen when using the onscreen keyboard. My typing speed is probably 70% of normal after less than a day of use - probably 3x as fast as my speed on the onscreen keyboard - and getting better all of the time. Best guess is that it will max out at about 90% of normal just because I'm so used to some key positions from my work computer that I'll have to correct myself more often when I hit what I thought was going to be the right key.
The dedicated keys have been the big surprise. I've had dedicated keys for some other keyboard/computer combinations before but rarely used them. With the iPad, though, I'm using them all of the time. Sleep, home, copy, paste - oh yeah! Probably part of the reason I'm using them more is that you can't just click on another app to open it so the home key is used a lot when surfing through apps.
The other big surprise is how stable the combination is. It's actually the first 'laptop' that I've ever felt comfortable using in my lap. The fact that the screen 'hinges' at a point recessed from the back edge rather than as a pure clamshell means that there doesn't appear to be any tendency for it to tip over backwards. I really expected it to be tippy, particularly when I found out just how light - very, very light - the Zagggmate is. This is going to dramatically add to the places where I'll be comfortable using my keyboard.
On the downside, having a normal keyboard coupled with using the touch screen is teaching me bad habits. I found myself reaching for my monitor to change cursor position on my work computer. Several times. I'd done it a couple of times before but now that I'm getting used to typing then reaching for the screen it's going to happen all of the time. I also keep expecting the tablet to scroll via the arrow keys. Oops! They're only active in a text control.