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Zagg Slim Book Go review: An affordable and versatile keyboard for Apple’s iPad Pro Review

Apple’s iPad Pro is the best tablet I’ve ever used, even with its software shortcomings. It’s incredibly close to being a full computer replacement for me, and likely already is for many others.

A critical part of turning the iPad Pro into more than just a touchscreen device is the addition of a keyboard. Without a keyboard, typing on the iPad Pro’s software keyboard is feasible, but it takes up screen space and doesn’t lend itself to typing out longer documents.

Apple offers a $200 keyboard for the iPad Pro, but it’s pricey and only serves one purpose (though it does that very well). Zagg’s Slim Book Go, on the other hand, is a more versatile keyboard accessory for iPad Pro users. And at $129, it’s more reasonably priced.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been using the Slim Book Go designed for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Zagg also offers smaller, even cheaper versions of the Slim Book Go for the different iPad models.  

Design

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Zagg’s Slim Book Go keyboard is actually more than just a keyboard. There are two parts: A durable case and a detachable keyboard. The entire setup measures 11.5 x 9.6 x 0.8 inches and adds a decent amount of weight to the iPad Pro. Compare that to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio, which adds very little in size and weight to the iPad Pro overall.

The Slim Book Go is designed to be used in multiple situations, which determines how you use it. For drawing sessions and more tablet-like usage, removing the keyboard and leaving it behind is best. For scenarios where a laptop-like setup is required, attach the keyboard and hammer away on the keyboard.

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It’s the versatility of the keyboard/case combo that sets it apart from Apple’s own solution.

The keyboard itself has full-sized keys, similar to what you’d find on a laptop. The top row of keys are dedicated shortcuts for common iOS tasks and controls, such as triggering Spotlight search or control the iPad’s current volume levels. The keys are backlit, with seven different colors.

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Shortcut keys are something I’ve longed for from Apple’s Smart Keyboard cover. Instead of having to move my hands from the keyboard to use Control Center to adjust the volume or play the next song in a playlist, I can press the respective shortcut key and keep working.

As for the case, the iPad Pro sits snuggly inside it. There’s a cutout for the Apple Pencil to magnetically attach to the iPad Pro for charging, or a pocket on the opposite side to securely hold the pencil when needed. On the back of the case is a kickstand that folds out, providing multiple viewing angles.

I found the kickstand to be sturdy in that it will hold the iPad Pro at the angle you move it to, but there’s a bit of bounce to the screen whenever you begin tapping and swiping across it. And if you leave the keyboard attached to the case when typing, the screen is constantly bouncing. It’s distracting to be looking at a screen that’s slightly moving as you type. Detaching the keyboard from the case removes the movement as I type, but it’s still there when using the iPad Pro’s touch interface.

The Slim Book Go uses Bluetooth to connect to the iPad Pro and can connect to two different devices at the same time. Zagg positions this as an option for those who want to connect to the iPad Pro and, when needed, switch to a smartphone. I’m not sure how many people will actually do that, but it’s there in case you find that to be an important feature. I didn’t use it during my time with the keyboard — simply because anything that I would want to reply to on my iPhone is also on the iPad Pro.

Performance

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Initial setup requires pairing the keyboard to the iPad Pro. The pairing process is straight-forward for anyone who is familiar with pairing a Bluetooth device to the tablet. Charing is done via a USB-C cable, the same type of cable used to charge the iPad Pro.

Battery life for the Slim Book Go, according to the company, is one year. That’s with one hour of use per day, with the backlight enabled. I didn’t have enough time to test out that claim, but I didn’t have any issues with the keyboard’s battery draining during my use. I also didn’t see a significant increase in battery use of the iPad Pro due to using a Bluetooth connection instead of the Smart Connector that Apple uses for the Smart Keyboard Folio.

Typing on the keyboard was a breeze. I didn’t really have to adjust to the key size or layout. The keys responded and bounced back without any issues, although they are quite loud. I thought the clicking-clack of the Smart Keyboard Folio was bad, then I started using the Slim Book Go. It’s not a deal breaker at all, but it is something to keep in mind.

Should you buy one?

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Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

I like the durability and flexibility of the Slim Book Go. The $129 keyboard does more than just offer a keyboard with a layer of protection. The standalone case feels rugged, if not a bit bulky. The stand is versatile, as is the keyboard with multiple connections and shortcut keys.

Personally, I prefer Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover. However, I see the appeal of the Slim Book Go, and for those who want added protection with added productivity, it’s a solid choice.


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