There’s no denying that some people are put off tablets such as the Apple iPad because of their lack of physical keyboard.
These are usually long-term computer users who’ll opt for a decent laptop over a tablet purely to – literally – get their hands on a keyboard.
The increasingly popular ultrabook laptop, currently being pushed by chip-maker Intel, is therefore a very real competitor to the iPad and Android tablets.
There’s a third way, too. Why not just add a keyboard to the iPad or tablet?
The original Apple iPad has the Zaggmate, which is an aluminium iPad case/stand that also features a Bluetooth keyboard.
Now Zagg has created a range of Bluetooth keyboard accessories for the iPad 2.
The Zagg Folio for iPad 2 takes that idea but makes the whole thing more like any other wrapround iPad case.
While the Zaggmate was a metallic shell the Zagg Folio feels more like a case than a box.
The iPad clips into the top half of the Folio case, with the keyboard taking up the lower part. Once opened you can lift the bottom part of the iPad into the central groove, which creates the handy, tight stand. When you’re finished you just lift the iPad out of the groove and snap the case shut, offering decent protection in its durable polyurethane shell.
There are seven ABS hard-shell colours to choose from (€99.99 or about £85, plus shipping), and four leather versions priced at €129.99 or £110, plus shipping.
If you prefer the iPad to be in portrait mode (upright) you can take it out of the upper shell and fit it into the groove that way round.
The case features the usual cutouts for iPad ports and buttons, of course.
As you’ll be buying the Zagg Folio primarily for the keyboard it’s appropriate that this is excellent quality and comfortable to use.
The Bluetooth 3.0 keyboard (which can be removed if you wish) is smaller than a standard keyboard such as Apple’s Wireless Keyboard and Keyboard Dock iPad-companions.
But it’s not too cramped – it’s much like a netbook’s keyboard, and is superior to many softer Bluetooth iPad keyboards we’ve tried out.
A real boon is the Folio keyboard’s iPad 2-specific keyboard shortcuts, such as volume control, music control, home, search, and copy and paste. There are 15 iPad function keys in all.
You recharge the keyboard via the included Micro USB cable, but as the 510mAh rechargeable lithium polymer battery should last for weeks if not months this isn’t as onerous as it first sounds.
There are compromises in making your iPad into a virtual laptop. To use it purely as a touchscreen device you really will want to take it out of the case, as otherwise the keyboard hangs a bit around the back. That said, sliding the iPad out of the Folio is quick and easy.
As a case the Zagg Folio feels robust if a little clunky – we didn’t test the leather version, which would probably feel a little more luxurious.
(There’s also a Zagg Folio case for the popular iPad-aping Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.)