Many iPad keyboard cases have hit the market in recent weeks and we finally got our hands on ZAGG’s ZAGGMate iPad keyboard case for review… and it’s awesome. The ZAGGMate is an iPad keyboard accessory at heart but doubles as a case. The case aspect of the ZAGGMate is not fantastic but the keyboard part may just be the best third-party implementation we’ve seen. Check out our review after the break:

The Keyboard:

The ZAGGMate’s keyboard is just like your traditional netbook keyboard. The keys do not have much spacing, like Apple’s offerings, but if you can type on a netbook keyboard you can easily type on the ZAGGMate. The keys can be typed on wonderfully with no delay to the iPad. The keyboard uses the standard QWERTY layout and has all the function keys as well as number input. The keyboard also features some iPad-specific shortcuts.

As you can see on the top left of the ZAGGMate (image above) there are five iPad function keys (in order): Home button, Spotlight, Photo frame, Virtual keyboard, and a button to quickly turn off the iPad’s display. Clicking the home button twice also brings up the multitasking menu in iOS 4.2. To turn the keyboard on you simply flick the switch on the keyboard’s top left and you turn the bluetooth function on using the bluetooth button under that.

Overall the ZAGGMate keyboard is wonderful to type on and is a breeze if you are used to traditional PC netbook keyboards. You will most likely find that you will type much faster with the ZAGGMate than with Apple’s virtual iPad keyboard making it perfect for e-mail and productivity apps. In terms of traditional Mac and PC typing shortcuts we found that Command-A (select all), Caps lock, Command-C (copy), Command-V (paste), and Command-X (cut) all work perfectly. To get an idea of the keyboard’s size the image above compares it to Apple’s wireless keyboard.

Connectivity and Battery Life:

Connected the ZAGGMate bluetooth keyboard to an iPad is a snap. Simply charge the ZAGGMate, turn it on, click the keyboard’s bluetooth button (described above), and do the rest from the iPad’s bluetooth settings pane. Once you do this your iPad will ask you to type a few numbers into the keyboard and then you will be ready to go. The bluetooth keyboard does not only work with the iPad but also works on the iPhone and iPod touch (running iOS 4.0 or later) as well as all bluetooth-ready computers.

The ZAGGMate includes a mini-usb port on the bottom for charging with the included mini-USB cable. Charging is done via Apple’s charger included with the iPad. The bluetooth keyboard has fantastic battery life with a 510 mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery that can last for weeks without a recharge.

The iPad Case:

The ZAGGMate as a case is not that great. The only thing it truly protects is the iPad’s front. To put the iPad in the ZAGGMate you simply put it screen first into the keyboard portion then it will lock in. We recommend that you get a protective bag to put your iPad in while its being carried in the ZAGGMate for the best security. The case itself has an opening on the bottom for access to the iPad’s dock connector and openings for the mute switch and volume rocker, depending on the direction your place the iPad in the case.

The case is crafted from high-quality aluminum and adds 1/4 of an inch to the iPad’s thickness, which is nice. It is also extremely light making it easy to take around and carry the iPad in.

Pricing and Availability:

The ZAGGMate iPad keyboard case costs $99 and there is also a $69 version without the bluetooth keyboard (great as a stand while using another bluetooth keyboard). Both ZAGGMates are currently available for pre-order on ZAGG’s online store and will ship December 17th. If you cannot wait until then, Best Buy stores already have them!

Overall:

Overall the ZAGGMate iPad keyboard case is a great bluetooth keyboard accessory for your iPad and is very convenient as it attaches as a case. The great part about the keyboard is the built-in stand for optimal typing. The case itself is not that great and we recommend getting a second case to put everything in for better protection. The $99 price-point is high for a device at this price. If you really want a keyboard/case accessory for your iPad there are a few options that may be better for some:

Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock ($69) + Apple’s iPad Case (cheaper at Amazon) ($39) = $108

Apple’s Bluetooth Keyboard ($69) + Apple’s iPad Dock ($29) (cheaper at Amazon) = $98

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