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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.