Unless you recently came into an inheritance, or that special someone has been extraordinarily good this year, the iPad Pro is a bit pricey for most holiday gift lists. However for those Apple fans in your life that have already upsized to the Pro, there are plenty of accessories that make nice gifts. For business users and students, none is more important than a keyboard and although Apple released the specially designed Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro, it remains hard to get, meaning a Plan B is essential with Christmas just three weeks away. Not to worry, since there are several good alternatives that best Apple’s product on several fronts.
In my experience, there’s no better iPad Pro-sized portable keyboard than the Zagg Messenger Universal. I’ve used both the Zagg and Apple keyboards for the last couple weeks and unless you value form over function (in this case thinness versus features), the Zagg is a better choice. Here’s my full discussion of why, In summary, although unlike the Smart Keyboard, the Messenger doesn’t double as a cover, it does fold into a compact, self-sealing case that’s just slightly thicker than the iPad itself. Still, the Zagg has several things to commend it:
- A full row of iOS shortcut keys, including one I haven’t seen before to display the stack of running apps (equivalent to double-tapping the iPad home button).
- Better key action: With a deeper profile, the Zagg uses a more traditional key mechanism that offers a longer key stroke and better tactile feel.
- Works in portrait or landscape: Like all tablet keyboards, the Zagg folds into a stand, however since it’s wireless and not tied to a mechanical connector, the iPad Pro works in either portrait or landscape. Note, that due to the Pro’s size, it’s a bit top-heavy in portrait, so you have to be careful when using it on your lap in this orientation.
- Good battery life: Zagg claims three months between charges, but I haven’t had it long enough to verify; I’m still on my first charge.