Review: Zagg Slim Book Case and Keyboard for iPad Air

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At a Glance
  • Zagg Slim Book

    Macworld Rating

    The Slim Book is light and has great backlighting, but its drawbacks are the loud keyboard and the hinge that holds the two halves together.

The Zagg Slim Book iPad Air Case with Backlit Keyboard is not only one of the longest-named products I’ve ever encountered, but also a competent Bluetooth keyboard. It offers backlit keys for late night typing sessions. Shortcut keys let you quickly access commonly used commands on iOS, such as Spotlight search, Siri, media controls, and quick-lock.

Even though I grew fond of the Slim Book during my testing, it had some shortcomings.

Is there an echo in here?

There’s no other way to say this: The keys sound hollow. I’m not sure if it’s due to the material that sits behind the keys, or the material the keys themselves are made out of, but the sound as you hammer away on the keyboard elicits the feeling of using a cheap keyboard.

That’s not a fair statement, entirely, as I’ve yet to find a single key that shows signs of wear and tear during my time with the Slim Book. With each keypress, the key has little play and pops right back into place the instant the keystroke is completed.

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The size and spacing of the keys are par for the course when it comes to a tablet keyboard. There’s nothing that makes the layout standout, nor is there something to find fault it.

It’s a case, too

Bluetooth keyboards that double as cases are often ugly, bulky, and serve very little purpose outside of protection. The case included when you purchase a Slim Book is a hard plastic shell that wraps around the exterior of your iPad. It may not be the prettiest case, but it’s far from bulky and has purpose.

The case doubles as a mounting mechanism for the keyboard, which I’ll dive into more detail about in a minute. But a side effect of this approach is that you’re not limited in the direction the iPad is facing when you place it into the hinge.

Meaning, you can turn the iPad around so its screen is facing away from the keys, turning it into an impromptu stand to watch a movie. Or you can essentially close the keyboard with the screen facing out and hold your iPad like you normally would (admittedly much thicker than before) and read or browse the web. Since the keyboard detaches from the rest of the case, you can also leave the keyboard behind and still have a protective case for your iPad.

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I’m not normally a fan of cases, but after using this case and keyboard combo I learned to appreciate the versatility the case brought with it. It not only protects your iPad, but it adds functionality.

The verdict hinges on, well, the hinge

It’s easy to look past the sound the keys make, but one thing I have a hard time overlooking is the hinge. As I mentioned earlier the case included with the Slim Book doubles as a method to connect the keyboard to your iPad.

Two slots on the side of the case act as the female end of a connector, with the male counterparts protruding from within the hinge. When you press the case into the channel, magnets help line up the two parts, and a click sound can be heard as the iPad is put in place.

My concern boils to the surface as you try to adjust the hinge’s viewing angle by pushing the iPad away from your body. Instead of providing a little bit of resistance when you’ve reached the maximum viewing angle for the hinge, the half of the case containing my iPad would pop out of the hinge and fall onto my desk.

Worse, I couldn’t reliably tell when this was going to happen, since the amount of pressure needed to knock the iPad out varied. Sometimes the iPad would pop out with little to no pressure. Other times it took a more of an effort on my part to make it happen. Regardless of how much pressure I put on the iPad, coming out of the hinge isn’t the ideal outcome.

Bottom line

The Slim Book offers more than most keyboard-case combos do. I really like the innovative approach Zagg took with bringing added functionality via the case. The hinge’s main issue is its lack of viewing angles combined with little feedback before it spits out your iPad like a child tasting broccoli for the first time.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    The Slim Book is light and has great backlighting, but its drawbacks are the loud keyboard and the hinge that holds the two halves together.

    Pros

    • Case/keyboard combo is lightweight and versatile
    • Good backlighting

    Cons

    • Would benefit from more viewing angle options
    • Construction feels a little cheap
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