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ZAGGkeys ProFolio+ review: Backlit keyboard case for your iPad

For those who fancy writing their next iPad novel in the dark, the ProFolio+ might be worth its high price tag.

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

What can be added to the already-crowded landscape of iPad keyboard accessories that stands out? ZAGG may have found the answer: backlighting. The ProFolio+ is the first iPad keyboard I've seen with backlighting built in, and it's as useful as you'd expect for typing at night. The only problem is, it's expensive. The $129 price puts it at the high end of iPad keyboard accessories.

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7.7

ZAGGkeys ProFolio+

The Good

The <b>ZAGGkeys ProFolio+</b> sports sturdy construction, compact design, and a multicolored LED backlit keyboard.

The Bad

Higher price than average cases; only opens to one angle; can't use case easily for non-keyboard use.

The Bottom Line

The backlit keyboard on the ProFolio+ might be worth the investment for some frequent travelers who've been feeling left in the dark.

A long time ago, it was ZAGG that made the first keyboard cover accessory I'd ever seen. ZAGG has remained a strong presence in the iPad keyboard landscape, even with strong competition from Logitech, Belkin, and others. The backlit ProFolio+ case is the top-end product in ZAGG's keyboard accessory lineup.

Sarah Tew/CNET

ZAGG also sells a standalone backlit keyboard, the ProPlus, for the same price. The ProPlus is smaller and thinner, much like the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, but lacks full protection.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ProFolio+, on the other hand, has full-body padding: a soft, pebbled, leatherlike plastic covers the front and back, and the entire package doesn't add a lot to total thickness and weight. The iPad (generations 2, 3, or 4) snaps into the top half, which bends back to slot into a groove above the keyboard. The open case's wide, flat base feels sturdy on a table or in your lap.

Lap-typers, though, will come to wish the ProFolio+ was adjustable as to angle. It's hard get into a comfortable, non-neck-straining position for typing. Belkin's Ultimate Keyboard Case, my current favorite in the category, has three different angles, and the case auto-connects. That's a bigger deal than you might think if you crave easy-on connections for spontaneous typing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The ProFolio+ keyboard works pretty well, though, with enough spacing between the little square keys and each key offering enough key travel. There's no odd layout compression. I did produce a handful of repeated keys and mistyped characters, however, something I didn't experience on the Belkin or Logitech keyboards.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The brightness of the backlighting is adjustable and it has seven different LED color options (why don't more laptops do this?), but lacks an ambient light sensor, so you may need to play around until you find the perfect lighting level. In terms of key spacing and travel the ProFolio+ is very similar to the Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case. The battery-powered Bluetooth case recharges via Micro-USB, and a cable comes in the box. ZAGG claims months of use off a single charge -- I certainly never ran down the battery during my week or so of testing.

Sarah Tew/CNET

But again, here's the problem: the ProFolio+ is $129, a good $30 more than the competition -- and more than the similar but not backlit ProFolio model. To me, $30 for the luxury of backlighting feels a little steep. Those who crave it will be very thankful, but for most other people it won't be worth a roughly 30 percent markup on the case cost.

As for me, it turns out, I value adjustable angles and autoconnect features more than backlighting. Especially when that backlighting comes at a true premium. The ZAGGkeys ProFolio+ is unique, but not for everybody. The Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case still beats it.

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7.7

ZAGGkeys ProFolio+

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8