Summary: The newest iPad hasn’t been out long but keyboard accessories are already appearing regularly. This keyboard cover from ZAGG is the best so far.

ZAGGkeys Cover front
ZAGGkeys Cover (Image: ZAGG)

Using a keyboard with the iPad has long been a practice of mine, and I see a lot of others in public doing the same. To make that a good experience requires a good keyboard, and the ZAGGkeys Cover recently released certainly qualifies.

See related: Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover and iPad Air: Thinner than a dime ZAGGkeys Folio: Perfect keyboard companion for the iPad Air (hands on) | 2013 in perspective: Doing real work with the iPad | iPad Air: Best tablet ever made

ZAGGkeys Cover dimensions:

  • Length: 6.82in (173.2mm)
  • Width: 9.55in (242.6mm)
  • Depth: 0.299in (7.6mm)
  • Weight: 0.8lbs (368.5gm); (1.8lbs with iPad Air)

This keyboard from ZAGG is not a folio case that fully protects the iPad Air front and back. Those wanting that kind of protection should look at the ZAGGkeys Folio, reviewed by ZDNet here. The Cover is a thin keyboard that covers the iPad Air’s screen for transport. The newest iPad is extremely thin, and the ZAGGkeys Cover is even thinner. The keyboard side of the cover is black plastic and the bottom is brushed metal that perfectly matches the gray iPad Air.

ZAGGkeys Cover side profile
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

There are two things that set the ZAGGkeys Cover apart from other keyboard solutions. The iPad Air slips into a special hinge on the cover that supports a wide range of viewing angles, much like a laptop. Other keyboards only offer one to three viewing angles, so this is a vast improvement for using the iPad Air with a keyboard. The keyboard base is weighted to keep the device from tipping over with the tablet pushed far back.

That hinge sits on the back edge of the keyboard, another advantage over keyboards that have the iPad Air sit forward from the edge. This allows ZAGG to make the keyboard bigger than the others, which makes the keyboard much better than the competition in this writer’s opinion.

This results in having six rows of keys as opposed to the four or five rows on other keyboards. The resultant keyboard layout is similar to a laptop’s, with a dedicated row of number keys and a row of iPad control keys at the top.

The keys are almost full-sized and nicely spaced, making fast touch typing a breeze. There are four arrow keys in the lower right of the keyboard that come in handy when editing text.

The ZAGGkeys Cover keyboard is backlit, with a choice of 7 colors. There are three backlighting brightnesses that are toggled to fit the situation.

Typing on this keyboard is a joy, with good key travel and tactile feedback on key presses. It’s not quite full size, but close enough that it doesn’t feel cramped, even for those with big hands.

The keyboard pairs to the iPad Air over Bluetooth, a simple process using the Bluetooth button on the right side of the ZAGGkeys Cover. It charges with a microUSB cable (included), and a charge should last about three months with typical usage.

The iPad Air with the ZAGGkeys Cover together are as light as can be, and work very well for those needing to do a lot of text entry. Sure, you could just carry a small laptop with you instead, but you’d lose the ability to pull the tablet out of the keyboard. And the one pound iPad Air is the thinnest and lightest tablet of its size available.