Review: Zagg Pocket Mobile Keyboard

As tablets have become more powerful, they’ve also grown closer to matching the utility of laptops. A tablet loaded with a few choice productivity apps and paired with a wireless keyboard makes a near-perfect laptop replacement. So of course it follows that wireless Bluetooth keyboards have become big business. See for yourself: there are nearly two dozen Amazon pages devoted to them.

These slim accessories come in myriad sizes and formats—tablet covers, standalones, folios, and desktop-style keyboards. But even the slimmest Bluetooth keyboards add considerable thickness and weight to your almost-laptop.

Zagg, the manufacturer of one of our favorite wireless keyboards for the iPad, has come out with a new design called the Pocket. It’s extraordinarily light at only 7 ounces, and it folds up when you’re not using it. There’s a hinge running horizontally through the middle point of the keypad, so when it’s folded, the Pocket squeezes down into a rectangle that’s 9 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and half an inch thick. It slips easily into my sport jacket’s chest pocket.

The aluminum and ABS plastic case folds into four sections. There is no power button. Instead, the set of magnets that keeps the Pocket folded also maintains battery life by automatically powering it down when closed. Zagg claims the rechargeable battery can run two years between charges based on average usage, which the company defines as one hour per day. Obviously I couldn’t test this claim, but remind me to mark my calendar. Battery life can be checked by pressing a pair of keys, and the green power light blinks to indicate the charge—once for weak and up to three times for strong.

I was pleasantly surprised that the spacing of the Chiclet style keys allowed touch typing with little restraint, considering the keyboard’s compressed real estate is 85 percent of a traditional keyboard.

The tent-shaped built-in stand works for tablets and smartphones either in portrait or landscape positions. This “leaning stand” arrangement is especially helpful since the Pocket works with both iOS and Android devices. What particularly impressed me is that the stand is spacious enough to support my iPad 3 without having to remove its protective case. Invariably, other keyboards I’ve tried have worked only with unsheathed tablets and phones. Another plus was the nearly instantaneous Bluetooth pairing.

One feature missed on this tiny keyboard is a iOS Home Screen key that brings you back to the main desktop. You still have to touch the screen for that, and other navigational commands. As an iOS user, I felt cheated since there is a dedicated Menu key for when the keyboard is paired with an Android device. It’s a slight misstep for an otherwise elegantly engineered, weight-saving solution.

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