A Go-Everywhere iPad/Android Keyboard

Competing against nothing is not easy. Every iPad and every Android tablet comes with an on-screen keyboard that costs nothing and weighs nothing. In fact, I am using one right now. It’s fine for short documents with no formatting, but I prefer a proper keyboard for longer writing sessions.

I use the Apple wireless keyboard that came with my iMac (I use a wired keyboard on my desk, so this one was a spare. I invested in a durable slipcase from www.sfbags.comfor $29. and I carry an extra pair of AA batteries, just in case the Bluetooth eats too much power. Mostly, it works as well as any Bluetooth device. It’s a bit taller than the iPad, but then, it is a full-sized computer keyboard. Weight of keyboard, case and two sets of batteries: one pound. I do not carry it everywhere.

The new ZAGGKeys FLEX is about 3/4 as long as the Apple keyboard, so the keys are closer together. It weighs about 3/4 of a pound, but it is much more compact. Power is provided via USB, not AA cells. Special buttons on the keyboard are used for undo, cut, paste, and search. The keyboard easily switches from Apple to Android mode. One button pairs the keyboard to either device.

The niftiest part is the stand that doubles as the case. It’s lightweight and very stable–more firm that Apple’s magnetic iPad cover.

The keyboard is a little clunky and a little noisy–convenient but Apple’s keyboard is both elegant and silent.

Cost: Apple wireless keyboard ($69) + SF bags slipcase ($29) + a year’s batteries = $100.

Cost: ZAGGKeys FLEX: about $80.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show, there were dozens of iPad accessory-makers on the show floor. I like ZAGG–they seem to come up with clever solutions. Here, they’ve got a good idea, but $20 and a quarter pound are not enough to overcome the significant quality advantage of the Apple / SF Bags solution.

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