It took until the end of 2012 to find my undisputed favourite work gadget of the year, aka productivity solution in the true sense of the cliché. I haven’t just had a passing fling with this aluminium iPad case with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard after it pouted at me in the office. I have taken it on a bracing eight-flight, 10-day, 30,000-mile world trip, using it for long stretches on every leg, and we are in love. At least I am with it. I’m not sure how the Zaggkeys Proplus feels about me, because, to be honest, I haven’t treated it gently.
Some may recall that I have written approvingly about previous Zagg devices that turn your iPad into a micro laptop; the Salt Lake City-based company seems to be a lot more talented than most of its rivals. However, this latest Zagg is that rare thing, a piece of technology that does everything you could want and therefore cannot, so far as I can see, be improved – from functionality (exemplary) to quality and finish (perfect).
First, quality and toughness: the Proplus is made from an aluminium of pretty much identical quality and look to the iPad, so it feels Apple-made. That’s a trivial matter, though, compared to the construction. It has powerful magnets in its corners, so when the iPad nests with it face down, for storage, it sticks – firmly. The resultant near-seamless capsule of silky metal doesn’t just cosset the iPad screen but creates a carry-able, robust object you might love to caress.
The magnets thing already makes this a genius bit of industrial design, but the Proplus has an even more compelling and practical pièce de résistance. The main drawback of previous Zagg models was that the keyboard became useless in a darkened airliner interior. The Proplus has a keyboard that lights up – the only one there is, at the time of writing, in an iPad accessory. This is incalculably useful. I should add that you can change the key backlighting through seven sexy colours, although really, that’s less of a feature than a spectacular bit of techie showboating.