I’m back (and a review of the ZaggMate)

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything to this blog. Sorry about that. Had some issues with hackers, patience, a new baby, and laziness. It happens.

Things have changed much since I last wrote: baby, new mbp, imac, mac mini, iphone, and ipad. Yes, Apple has my garnished my wages in a very interesting way.

So – I figured a review would be a good way to bring this back to life. I love my iPad and I’ve been looking for a way to turn it into “the” tool to use while I’m flying. I really hate to lug around my 17″ MBP, specially on day trips. However, the iPad by itself is not really that efficient of a machine for me to sort the 100’s of emails. The onscreen keyboard is also difficult to use if you are trying to write anything but just a few sentences (better than an iPhone, but much less than a real keyboard). Zagg introduced the ZaggMate and some of the reviews said it was cool. I found out you could get one at a bestbuy and I did. My hopes were that it was going to at least let me reduce my backpack load down to two things: ipad+zaggmate and Clear hot spot. I tried it and this is what came of it:

The good:

  • The fit and overall polish is very high. It looks like it was made for the ipad.
  • The keyboard is pretty responsive and can keep up with me at my fastest, but that’s a limited thing because of some of the downsides
  • Battery life is rated at months and recharge time is very quick.
  • There are several function keys that are built into the keyboard that are nice touches: volume keys, media keys (ipod control) and screen keyboard controls.
  • Having a full keyboard makes things like SSH eminently usable now. Also using text note utilities that do things like Markdown are much more usable. You no longer need a special app, just to get the markdown symbols.
  • The case+ipad = real thin.

The bad:

  • The keyboard is not full sized, so it takes some getting used to. I definitely can not type as fast as I can with a real full sized keyboard. However, it is much faster than the onscreen keyboard.
  • There is no cutout for the headphone. That means that to use the ipad as an audio device, you have to take it out of the case. There’s not way to fit the case and the audio plugins at the same time. Period.
  • Once you take the ipad out of the case, you can not flip it over and put it back in the case. Basically, unless you are using it as a stand, you can not use the case. On my flight, before we took off, I had to take the ipad out, put the keyboard in the seat back and wait until we were up in the air before I could use it.
  • The f’ing caps lock key! The keyboard is small already and it’s really easy to hit the caps lock key. I don’t need that key. I wish there was a way to turn it off or remap it like there is in OSX.
  • The osx keyboard shortcuts don’t work. So – you use the keyboard only to type stuff in. Sending, moving, replying, deleting, etc are all done through screen interactions.- The back of the ipad is not protected while it’s in the case. You can get another thingy, but those are another $30-$70
  • The plastic thing that props the ipad up feels very cheap. I don’t trust it to survive in the long run

The final result = me returning the case this weekend. Cool experiment, but not really all there. The killers for me:

  • No back protection
  • No way for it to latch on the back when you are not using the keyboard
  • No audio hole
  • Flimsy build of the stand thing

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