I finally got caught up at work! I can start making “real” blog posts now!

I often buy gadgets on impulse, and one of the new toys I purchased back in December is an iPad case designed by ZAGGmate.

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Taking it out of its’ packaging was very easy, and the only other thing that came with the keyboard was a USB charger. No “million plugs of the Hydra” syndrome here. That’s a good sign already!

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Setting up the ZAGGmate with the iPad was straightforward. I flipped on the power switch and pressed the recessed bluetooth button on the ZAGGmate. Then, on the iPad, I went to SETTINGS/GENERAL/BLUETOOTH, selected the ZAGGmate keyboard it detected, and typed in the confirmation code. That was it.

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The keyboard layout and size was close enough to a “regular” full size keyboard that my fingers hardly noticed a difference.

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The specialty keys on the ZAGGmate are there, but fortunately, the designers moved them to inconspicuous places.

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What really surprised me was that the specialty keys actually were there to perform some very useful functions on the iPad! So far, so very good!

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Setting the iPad to “stand up” in the ZAGGmate is ridiculously easy. Just pull up the bracket on the back of the keyboard…

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…stand it up…

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…pull it forward, tuck it under the front posts…

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…and click it in. Done!

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When I dropped the iPad into the groove and laid it back against the bracket, it felt secure. No matter how I jostled the iPad or the ZAGGmate, and no matter how I oriented the iPad, the iPad did not fall out of the ZAGGmate.

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The best part of the ZAGGmate is when you close it down. After you take down the keyboard bracket, you can put the iPad flush into the ZAGGmate and use it as a case!

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The docking port is still available, so you can still sync and charge the iPad while it is closed. (You can also see the USB charging port for the keyboard from this angle.)

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The iPad screen doesn’t come in contact with the keyboard when it is closed, so the screen won’t get scratched. The case is a perfect machined fit, and even though the iPad doesn’t wiggle or move when it is in the case, you can separate the iPad and the ZAGGmate with a moderate pressure from your thumb. (Or you can gently pull them apart with one hand on each side of the case.)

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The ZAGGmate isn’t much thicker than Apple’s own iPad case either. Since the iPad is completely flush with the keyboard, there’s not that much additional size or weight at all. Plus it looks like it is part of the iPad. The color and “feel” of the ZAGGmate match perfectly.

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I think the ZAGGmate was brilliantly designed and engineered. My only real complaint with the ZAGGmate is that after using this keyboard for a month, I’ve noticed that even though the layout is nice and roomy…

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…the edges! The edges!!!

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The edges dig into my hands. Big time.

It’s not bad for limited use, but when I tried using the ZAGGmate to write for a few hours, I found my hands became very sore from resting on the edge of the case. Maybe if I adopted a different style of where my hands are when typing it wouldn’t be so bad, but for me, using the ZAGGmate for extended periods isn’t fun.

Second, even though the outer case is made out of “aircraft-grade aluminum”, it does get scratched.

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Those scratches came was from what I would call “regular” use, too. ZAGGmate has an optional “invisible shield” outer protective film…

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…but unfortunately I still have not been able to find any locally to see if it helps.

A related problem to the scratching is that the entire back of the iPad is exposed when in “case” mode.

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Seeing how the bottom of the ZAGGmate got scratched so badly, I am hesitant to keep the iPad in the ZAGGmate without another external case for them both.

Finally, there is no “reverse” option, for when I want to just use the iPad’s touchscreen and have it flipped completely around so the back of the iPad is against the keyboard. It won’t fit flush like the “forward” option, but I blame Apple’s curved-back design for this one.

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Overall, this is one of the most impressive keyboards I have used, and it is in my que for when I know I am going to certain corporate environments. Overall I give the ZAGGmate iPad case 4 1/4 out of 5 stars.

** EDIT 01/14/11 : changed rating from 4 to 4 1/4 stars. I originally intended to have the additional 1/4 but lost it in editing.