The utility of the Apple iPad mini as a productivity hub is debatable, but that hasn’t stopped Zagg from producing two keyboard folio cases for the littlest iPad. The first, the Zagg ZAGGkeys Mini 7, is somewhat disappointing, with a bulky case construction and mediocre typing experience. Fortunately, Zagg’s larger, same-price alternative, ZAGGkeys Mini 9 ($89.99), though still bulky, offers a major improvement in keyboard layout and feel. We haven’t seen too many add-on keyboards for the mini yet, but the Mini 9 is the best so far.
Design, Setup, and Keyboard
Take the Mini 7, stretch it out horizontally, and you have the Mini 9. The two feature the same faux-leather exterior, integrated kickstand, and rather thick design. However, while the Mini 7 is constructed from a thick, pliable rubber material, the Mini 9 is built from a sturdier plastic. The fit is also far less precise with the Mini 9 than with the Mini 7, with the same vertical dimension, but about an inch of open space to the sides of the iPad. The iPad mini feels less secure in the Mini 9, and on a couple of occassions, when I pressed the case shut, I noticed that the iPad would slide out of place slightly. The keyboard folds nicely over the iPad mini’s screen, and while the closure has a magnetic snap to it, opening the case back up does not activate the automatic sleep/wake feature.
Above the keyboard are Power and Bluetooth buttons, with LED indicators next to both. Setup is a simple as pressing the Power button and then the Bluetooth button to put the Mini 9 into pairing mode. Then pair the device with your tablet like you would any other Bluetooth accessory.
The extra inches allow the Mini 9 to pack the same keyboard found on the excellent ZAGGkeys PROplus for the full-size iPad. It’s a vast improvement over the cramped and finicky keyboard found on the Mini 7. The issue with keys sticking is gone, and the spacing of the keys makes for a far more comfortable typing experience. The chiclet keys themselves are the same size as the ones found on the PROplus, but the Mini 9′s have a noticeably shallower travel and less satisfying clicky feel. Still, touch typing is very easy, whereas with the Mini 7, I found myself peeking down at the keyboard to maintain accuracy. The key layout is also better with the Mini 9, as you don’t have to hit an Fn key to reach common keys like apostrophes or quotation marks. And there’s a full row of dedicated iPad Function keys for actions like cut, copy, paste, and media playback controls.
While I’m still not fully convinced the iPad mini merits a keyboard folio case like the full-sized iPad, if you want one, the ZAGGkeys Mini 9 is a solid choice. You sacrifice the thin and light feel of the iPad mini, and there are some concerns over the less-than-secure fit, but the typing experience rivals those found on full-sized iPad keyboard folios. If you don’t necessarily need a case and keyboard combination, I’d still probably recommend a more compact case—you can find our favorites here—with a separate standalone Bluetooth keyboard.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc