Trying Out the Zaggmate Keyboard/Case for iPad

I was at a meeting yesterday in our IT department, when I saw a Zaggmate keyboard/case lying abandoned on a table, with no iPad in sight. I guess I must have looked interested in it, because the owner, our VP for IT, happily handed it off to me, and even ran down to his car to get the USB cable for it.

20110319-021358.jpgThe keyboard is small — the physical keys are in fact even smaller than the pop-up virtual keys, because there are more keys (more or less a full keyboard worth) crammed into the same space; so it is taking me a bit of effort to adjust to the small space. My first thought is that it’s probably worth trying a little harder to get used to it. The Zaggmate doesn’t have a touchpad — I hadn’t realized just how important it is to me to have a touchpad right under my space bar.

I do like being able to move the cursor by touching the screen. With a traditional PC setup, when you have to take a hand off of a keyboard to use the mouse, there’s a bit of a delay as your hand has to find wherever you left the mouse. With the touchpad-and-keyboard combo, that delay is much less — you just take your hand off the keyboard and touch the screen.

That might get tedious if I have to do a lot of editing, thoough.

I did not spring for a stand, opting instead to buy an inexpensive rubbery skin case. At first I was a little nervous about leaving the screen unprotected. I use my iPad for at least a couple hours every day, and when I get home the kids want a turn; with all that use, I haven’t gotten even a single scratch on the screen. So that screen is  a lot more durable than I thought it would be.

I really don’t feel the need to cover up the screen with plastic shields, yet I do feel a bit worried every time I slip my iPad into my briefcase — will it scrape up against a pen, or a cord?

So even if the keyboard only gets occasional use, I’m happy to have the case and stand.

Of course, within minutes of connecting the keyboard and setting the iPad on the stand, I shifted position with the stand balanced on my knees, sending the screen tumbling off the stand and onto the floor. No damage, fortunately… but that is the first time I’ve ever actually dropped it. That would have been an ironic way to lose an iPad.

Even after typing a few paragraphs, I’m already much more used to the keyboard, although it did take me about six times to type “Eben” “Evben” “Even” correctly. And I can feel a bit of tension in my shoulders, from typing in what ends up being a very cramped position. The physical keys are very responsive, though, so perhaps that plus will outweigh the minuses.

We’ll see how it goes.

I have noticed that, while it’s possible to hide the virtual keyboard, the WordPress iPad app doesn’t actually let you use the space the keyboard would have covered — its just blank white space, and any text that would appear there disappears.

I wonder if that will go for other apps as well.