Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad
Zagg’s Pro Keys with Trackpad ($199) offers essentially the same keyboard and cover as the Pro Keys but now with a trackpad. However, the addition of the trackpad changed the relationship between the iPad Pro and the cover, creating some less-than-ideal functional and performance issues.
Zagg did not change the fundamentals of the design. The great removable cover and Apple Pencil holder remain the package’s best feature, offering solid protection for all but an iPad Pro’s screen when detached from the keyboard. Being able to attach to a second device via Bluetooth is also useful. Zagg did not improve the keys or the backlighting; both issues were pointed out in the previous review.
Adding the keyboard forced Zagg to make a couple of design choices. One looks thought through but will likely be controversial. The second looks like an oversight that degrades the overall experience with the product.
Eliminating the second tilt position
This first design choice was forced on the designers when they constrained the case to the same general footprint as its predecessor. Something had to give, and that thing was the second tilt position. The Pro Keys with Trackpad only supports a single position. Compared to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which offers a variety of tilt positions (albeit for around $150 more–and without the detachable case to protect the iPad Pro when not using the keyboard).
Some will feel that the trackpad makes up for eliminating the second tilt position. Others may choose the older case and a mouse. Either will work
Changing the cover’s dimensions and features
And I will add, ever so slightly. My iPad Pro typically wears the Zagg Pro Key’s case even when I’m not using the keyboard. I find it a lightweight general case. Although the screen isn’t protected around the house, that usually doesn’t present too much danger to my iPad. So when the new case arrived, I excitedly attached the case to the keyboard cover. I immediately noted that something was off. When I closed the case, the wrap over the Apple Pencil did reach enough to securely connect with the magnets on the back of the case. I swapped out the case covers, but they seemed to be identical.
After some measurements and comparisons, it appears that Zagg slightly changed the shape and length of the non-keyboard back of the case and reduced the wrap by a quarter-inch or so. Those two choices result in a fit that doesn’t feel secure. I’m sure if I dropped my iPad Pro from the 2-meter height they claim is safe, the iPad Pro would likely survive. I’m less sure that the case wouldn’t fly open and expose the screen.
You can see in the pictures that with the case’s magnets lined up, the older case’s wrap is longer, creating a bulge in the wrap.
The new backplane also includes an additional ridge that makes the case less stable. While the keyboard-only case can be manipulated to push some of the fabric out of position, the case stays upright. The Pro Keys with Trackpad case falls backwards, primarily because the ridge creates more play in the “hinge” between the keyboard and the back of the cover.
Trackpad versus Mouse
I found the Zagg trackpad responsive enough. The UI picks up the trackpad like a mouse as a grey circle flitting around iPadOS. I also found myself, much to my dismay, regularly realigning the cursor insertion point as an accidental brush against the trackpad moved where I was working, making for a messy writing experience. Fortunately, the trackpad can be turned off if it gets in the way. I found it more useful when browsing or reading than when writing.
A mouse requires a surface, which is why trackpads were invented in the first place. Trackpads allow cursor manipulation without a surface–all the interactions can take place directly on the device. However, Zagg’s cover isn’t stable enough to work on a lap, so it also requires a surface. Which then begs the question: Why not a mouse? A mouse offers better control and usually doesn’t get in the way of writing.
Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad: The Bottom Line
I have to say I really wanted to like the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad, but I find its quirks offputting. The previous keyboard-only version seems more stable and more protective. I recommend getting a mouse to accompany Zagg’s previous Pro Keys product and waiting for a next-generation trackpad version, or look at other offerings, like those from Apple or Brydge.
Zagg provided the Zagg Pro Keys with Trackpad for review. Images courtesy of Zagg.
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