A number of months ago, I got an iPad Pro in the mail, marking the first time I’d get my hands on Apple’s pro-grade tablet. It’s the 11-inch version from 2018 with 64GB of storage, LTE, and the powerful A12X chip. I love it, but I wanted to get the most out of it, so I asked ZAGG for a keyboard.
Specifically, I reached out to ZAGG for a unit of their Slim Book Go for the 11-inch iPad Pro. I wanted to see what it was like to use the iPad as my writing computer or even my main laptop. I knew I couldn’t make the device my main computer (my job just requires more than what the iPad can do), but I was certainly up for the challenge of replacing my laptop with it.
In short, I love it, but it’s only because it has a great keyboard. The rest of the package is pretty terrible, but if you plan to do a lot of typing with your iPad’s keyboard like I do, I think you’ll be happy, at least to an extent.
Bulky case is absolutely terrible
One week’s worth of battery, not a year’s worth
A pain to remove when you decide you don’t wanna lug it around anymore
Comfy Keyboard Built for Long Typing Sessions
Right off the bat, I wanna talk about the keyboard itself. It connects to your iPad over Bluetooth (sorry, no Smart Connector support here) and allows for multi-device pairing. That way, if you wanna quickly type something on your iPhone or another computer but don’t want to reposition your hands, you can hit a key at the top to instantly switch over to your other device.
ZAGG advertises the keys on the Slim Book Go as being “laptop-style.” This basically means they should have good travel, good spacing, and make typing for long periods comfortable.
Luckily, I can say that all of this is true. Not once during my extensive testing of the Slim Book Go did I think to myself, “God, I wish I had my laptop back. This keyboard sucks.”
Instead, I almost preferred the Slim Book Go’s keyboard to my laptop’s. Granted, the laptop I did all of my comparing to was the Lenovo IdeaPad S940, a laptop with a pretty low-travel keyboard. Regardless, the keyboard is great on the Slim Book Go, and you can take my word for it. After all, not a day goes by where I’m not typing for at least two to three hours straight.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do any comparisons between the ZAGG keyboard and what’s offered by Apple, but from what I hear, the ZAGG has to be way better just for the extra travel alone.
Another perk of buying the Slim Book Go is the included backlight. Not many iPad keyboards come with a backlight, and I was ecstatic to find one with ZAGG’s. You can even change it to a ton of different colors, not just a rudimentary blue or white appearance. I’m talking hot pink, neon green, a vibrant red, and more.
I really don’t have any complaints about the keyboard on the Slim Book Go. ZAGG really hit it out of the park when it was designing it. The rounded keys are easy to strike, there’s a satisfying amount of travel, convenient media keys are at the top, there’s a backlight, and it’s great for long typing sessions. What more could you want?
I’ll tell you. An actually slim case.
Bulky Case That Adds Heft and Redundancy
ZAGG calls this product the “Slim Book Go,” but the moment you take it out of its packaging, you’ll realize there’s nothing “slim” about it.
First of all, the case you have to put your iPad Pro in is quite terrible. It’s bulky, it feels cheap, and it’s extremely difficult trying to avoid breaking your iPad when removing it. I’m not exactly sure what ZAGG was drinking when they thought this was a good case design, but this ain’t it, chief.
On the back, you’ll find a kickstand that can prop up your iPad to basically any angle you want. That’s great and all, but the kickstand is made of plastic and feels super cheap. What’s more, the stand’s hinge is really stiff, so it feels like you’re about to break the kickstand off almost every time you move it. This is probably the design decision that irks me the most, simply because you’re forced to interact with it every time you want to type.
There’s also this weird redundancy when it comes to storing your Apple Pencil. Granted, I don’t have one to show you, but it isn’t hard to tell having two different ways to store the stylus is a bit unnecessary.
If you buy any iPad Pro (2018) case, chances are it’s gonna utilize Apple’s magnets on the side of the device to help you store your Apple Pencil. ZAGG does the same thing by raising the lip of the case to provide a bit of protection for your Pencil in the event it begins slipping off your iPad.
But then, below the screen, you’ll find another storage area for the Apple Pencil, one that gives the case a ginormous chin and requires part of the base to have a dip carved out above the keyboard.
I can’t tell you if this method of storing your Apple Pencil is better than Apple’s own method, but my gut feeling is a resounding no, specifically because I think it’ll be too hard to try and remove your Pencil with any efficiency.
I’d also like to mention that the case doesn’t come with any magnets at all. Why should you care that it doesn’t have magnets? Because when you close the case, it doesn’t case your iPad to go to sleep. Luckily, the iPad is smart enough to sleep on its own when its front-facing sensors are covered, but that only happens once in a while. You’ll have to make sure you manually put your iPad to sleep before throwing it back in your bag. Otherwise, both your keyboard and your iPad’s batteries will start draining.
Oh, and the case adds weight. Like, a lot of weight. With a naked iPad Pro, you’re looking at about two pounds. With the case, you’re around three pounds of added weight to your backpack. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you carry both a laptop and your iPad, you’ll definitely notice it.
Surface-Style Magnetic Connector
On the brighter side of this product, it does come with a Microsoft Surface-esque design feature: a detachable keyboard. Using magnets, you can pull the keyboard off of the Slim Book Go’s case and use the keyboard in any position you’d like. This is helpful if you have a crammed workstation and using the keyboard in a traditional laptop style is taking up too much room. Of course, you won’t want to use this feature while it’s on your lap, but it’s still a pretty nifty feature that’s there if you want it.
Speaking of using it on your laptop, I’m rating the Slim Book Go’s lapability a 5/10. This isn’t because it’s difficult to use your on lap. On the contrary, I found it rather enjoyable while blasting through subway lines on my way to the Barclays Center in NYC. But because the length between the edge of the kickstand and the edge of the keyboard is so long, people with shorter legs than me will have a pretty miserable time trying to balance this thing.
If you’re about 6-foot, you won’t have any problems. But if you’re 5′ 10″ or shorter, don’t even think about using this case in any place other than a proper desktop.
Since the Slim Book Go uses Bluetooth to connect to your iPad Pro, you have to manually recharge it when it begins dying. Luckily, there’s a USB-C connector on the right side of the keyboard so you can use the same charger your iPad came with.
Unfortunately, ZAGG’s promise of up to one year’s worth of battery life in one charge is a dramatic stretch. First off, you have to only use the keyboard for one hour a day. I used it at least thrice as much. You also can’t use the backlight because it “will impact battery life and may require more frequent charging.”
Folks, I get about a week’s worth of juice on a full charge with the Slim Book Go. That’s 1/52 of what ZAGG is promising with this product.
Maybe my battery life is so bad because I use the keyboard all the time. And maybe you’ll have better run times if you just type for an hour at Starbucks. But if you want to actually use the keyboard, don’t think you won’t have to charge it back up until 2020, because that’s a blatant lie.
After all of that, I think it’s important to say that if you’re gonna buy this thing, you have to come in with a specific set of expectations. Here’s what you actually get when you buy the Slim Book Go for the iPad Pro.
Super bulky case with a terrible kickstand that feels cheap and the inability to remove your iPad Pro with any efficiency
Surface-style keyboard separation
A fantastic keyboard with a really nice backlight
Around a week’s worth of battery life with USB-C charging
If you can excuse the extra bulk the case adds to your iPad, I genuinely think you’ll like the Slim Book Go. It’s not the slimmest keyboard on the market, it’s a pain to remove your iPad, and you get nowhere near a year’s worth of battery life. But what you do get for $99.99 is a pretty terrific keyboard with multi-device pairing and a week’s worth of battery life.
If that’s all you’re looking for, consider the Slim Book Go. The rest of us will try to find something slimmer, something that lasts longer, and something that doesn’t feel like you’re gonna either break the case or your iPad during normal operation.