If you’re looking for a way to get more out of your iPad by turning it into a makeshift laptop, look no further than the $99 ZAGG Slim Book Go. It’s a robust little accessory that adds a lot of versatility.
What It Is: A Laptop-like Accessory for Your iPad
iPads have come a long way since they were first introduced, with many users opting for their simplicity over a traditional laptop. The one thing that’s missing for most users is an easy way to bang out a bunch of text at one time—using the on-screen keyboard is fine for short, simple bits of text, but if you’re looking to do more than an external accessory is the way to go.
And while there’s no shortage of iPad-specific (or even compatible) models floating around out there, the ZAGG Slim Book Go has a few interesting tricks up its sleeve to make it a real contender for your iPad-turned-laptop keyboard needs.
First, it has all the features you’d expect from a portable keyboard: it’s Bluetooth, so it connects quickly and wirelessly; it’s backlit for easy typing in dim environments, and it can sync with two different devices for easy switching. But all those are expected features—things that any manufacturer would be chastised for not including.
It’s the other stuff that makes the Slim Book Go an option worthy of your consideration.
For starters, the detachable laptop-style form factor is excellent. The Slim Book Go is two parts: the keyboard and a case. The case part goes on your iPad and serves not only to protect it, but also to physically connect to the keyboard by way of strong magnets in each of the two units. The case also has a handy, versatile, and intelligently-designed kickstand so using it with the keyboard—either connected or separately—is easy.
But that’s not all. The case, which initially felt bulky to my hands that are otherwise only familiar with the iPad in its naked glory, also has another useful trick: a bay for your Apple Pencil. You can tuck the Pencil away here, close the lid like a laptop, and have it all neatly tucked away. Together. I don’t use the Pencil, but I can see how this would be a killer feature for anyone who does and likes to keep it close at hand.
Otherwise, the design is pretty straightforward. As I mentioned earlier, the keyboard and case connect easily via magnets, which gives the entire thing a unified look and feel—not unlike a laptop. But, you know, with your iPad.
I’d be lying if I said I was taken aback by its form factor or overall look out of the box—it’s honestly pretty dull looking. But hey, it doesn’t need to be because it does what it’s supposed to do so damn well.
In fact, let’s talk about that now.
Using the Slim Book Go: I Like You, Little Keyboard
When I first slapped my iPad into the case, as I noted above, I was a little surprised with the added bulk, but as I used it the sense that it was too bulky faded. The case itself undoubtedly works as a good protective cover for the tablet, though it doesn’t do a lot to protect the screen—it has a tiny lip around the edge, but I don’t think it would be enough to prevent the screen from cracking if you dropped it face-down. So, like, try not to drop it face-down.
Otherwise, it’s legit. It has openings for the Lightning port and the headphone jack (this iPad has a headphone jack). You know how some cases make buttons almost unpressable and annoying? Well, this one doesn’t do that. They’re still plenty clicky.
The kickstand is really cool because of its unique design. Instead of folding out from the middle of the device—like the Surface Pro’s kickstand, for example—the hinge is actually at the bottom, and it folds outward. It’s also very stiff, so it holds the tablet at whatever degree you want it—all the way up to dead-straight.
Directly under the display (in landscape) is the Pencil holder. Under that (on the bottom) are the magnet attachments for the keyboard. That’s the star of the show here, so let’s talk about it.
First off, I was shocked at how easy the Slim Book Go is to type on, especially given its overall small form factor. But the keys feel excellent—decent travel and a great tactile feel. They’re a little undersized, but I didn’t find that to be a problem during my testing. I type a lot of words every single day, and I could easily switch between my regular keyboard, laptop keyboard, and the Slim Book Go with minimal effort.
It’s also backlit. But not just old fashioned “regular” backlighting where you get one color; oh no, the Slim Book Go has seven backlighting options. You can choose from white, blue, teal, green, yellow, red, and purple. And they all look outstanding. Even yellow, which is traditionally a terrible color (I kid, I kid). But really, I just kept my review unit on red all the time, because…I like red. Oh, all of those colors has three different brightness levels, too. Or you can just turn it off. Your call, man.
It also includes all the function keys you’d want: home, lock, task switching, internet, media and volume controls, and even a button to bring up the software keyboard if you need it. You know, for emoji.
Speaking of using the keyboard, let’s talk “lap-ability”. The most common complaint with the Surface-style kickstand is that it just isn’t lap-able; the Slim Book Go is capable of being used in your lap, and it’s not a terrible experience. It’s just… finicky. If you position it right, it’s stable enough to type on, though it still suffers the same issue that most detachable products like this—with such a flimsy hinge (where the keyboard connects to the case, not the kickstand hinge), it just doesn’t have the structural rigidity needed to make for a great experience. But since the kickstand is a big ol’ slab of plastic that lies flat, it helps a lot.
Finally, let’s talk battery life. ZAGG claims the Slim Book Go gets a year of battery life with an hour of use each day, so that’s about 365 hours. Or three months if you use it for four hours a day. Or 45 days if you use it for 8 hours a day. But honestly, if you’re typing on your iPad for eight hours a day, seven days a week, we probably need to talk about your device usage habits and not really focus on your keyboard’s battery life. Also, just because I did the math, you could theoretically type on the Slim Book Go for over 15 days without stopping.
Speaking of battery, though, that’s my biggest gripe with the keyboard: the battery status indicator is sort of… not great. It doesn’t have much in the way of a real indicator, but instead just blinks a tiny light on the power button when you press the Fn and Ctrl keys at the same time. If it flashes green three times, the battery is more than half full. Two yellow blinks mean it’s somewhere between 25-49%, and one red blink means it’s below 25%. I guess you should probably charge it at that point.
The biggest issue with that system, which honestly isn’t horrible, is that it depends on you remembering to check it before it’s almost dead. The manual doesn’t indicate the light blinks to warn you when the battery is really low, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that feature in 6 months when my battery runs low.
Conclusion: A Versatile Product with a Lot to Like
There’s a lot to like about the Slim Book Go: it’s versatile, functional, and adds a lot of value to your tablet. If you find yourself banging out lots of words on your iPad every day, this is an excellent option to add a keyboard that works in both a laptop-esque form factor or as a separate accessory. And at only $99, it’s an easily justified purchase that will add a lot of functionality to your iPad. The kickstand on the case is just an added bonus.
Here’s What We Like
- Superb, practical design and excellent functionality
- Great battery life
- Colored backlit keys
And What We Don't
- Boring design
- Bulky case that lacks screen protection