I’m a huge evangelist for the iPad as a business tool. I hesitated to get one because I pictured myself quickly tiring of it then setting it aside — which is what happened with my iPod Touch. But it didn’t take me long to see the business value of the iPad. (Read my post about how I have found the iPad to be an indispensable productivity tool).
Enter the keyboard
I write a lot of content for my work, and doing this using the soft-key keyboard on the iPad, even in horizontal mode, isn’t terribly productive. It’s a lot better than nothing or a tiny iPhone, but for the power user it’s not enough.
Last spring I purchased a Brookstone keyboard/case on impulse at the airport on my way to a tradeshow. I could have overlooked the anti-merits of the cheap pleather case that added considerable bulk to my iPad had the keyboard turned my head, but I was extremely underwhelmed. There was very little tactile feedback from the keys, and there was a general cheapness and flakiness to it. When I returned from the tradeshow, I returned the case at the airport before heading to baggage claim.
What I learned from the experience was not only that the Brookstone keyboard wasn’t sufficient, but that I absolutely had to have a keyboard. After an evening of web browsing (using my iPad), I learned about the ZAGG/mate bluetooth keyboard/case. More than merely favorable, the reviews I encountered for this product were consistently downright exuberant. I was convinced and plunked down my hundred bucks — and it was well worth it.
This product lives up to the hype. I use this keyboard frequently and its performance has been flawless. I have written full documents (in QuickOffice) and handle email and many of my blog posts with it. The case offers superb protection for my device, and the whole thing adds only a little bit to the overall thickness and weight of the iPad.
ADDENDUM: I wrote this post in September 2011. A year or so later when I got a newer iPad, I got a new Zagg keyboard to go with it. Later I gave that Zagg to my daughter and bought myself yet another one. Yep, that’s right: I’ve bought and loved three Zagg keyboards!
I have been using my iPad heavily with no protection on the screen for most of the year, and there is not a scratch or abrasion or mark anywhere on my screen. Several months ago a friend asked me to help her put a screen protector on her iPad (she bought it from ZAGG). It was a difficult, harrowing process to get it on there, and I never liked the feel of her iPad after that… it had an almost tacky feel. What’s more, the tiny amount of thickness added to her iPad screen combined with the mild tackiness actually wrecked her ZAGG keyboard! (When your iPad is in the keyboard case, the screen is up against the keys.) So my advice: Unless you have a compulsion for rubbing steel wool on smooth surfaces, don’t get a screen protector. You don’t need it.
Using the ZAGG/Mate case means that I cannot conveniently use the iPad case that I bought from Apple. That’s fine, but when I use the iPad as an eReader, I need it to be easy to hold onto. I addressed that with yet another ZAGG product — a thin backing of embossed leather that is adhered to the back of the iPad. It gives it a little bit of grippiness and, well, it looks neat-o.
Moral of the story
The iPad is a great tool to add to your business productivity arsenal — especially when you pair it with a great keyboard.
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