This accessory attaches to the front and side of the iPad mini with a hinge and some magnets, so obviously it has to be the same size as the tablet. This means it's about as tall as a typical keyboard but not as wide, so ZAGG had to find ways to save room.
The designers were smart enough to not cut the size of the letter and number keys -- these are the same size as you'd see on any laptop keyboard. It's the keys on either side that have been either reduced in size or combined together.
I don't find these changes to be a huge hassle. They don't interfere with my regular typing, especially after spending some time getting used to this arrangement. It's only the less-used punctuation marks that have been brought together.
The additional keys above the number row are a nice touch, with a replacement for the Home key as well as a set of dedicated media controls.
A limitation of most external keyboards for tablets is that the user isn't given any choice about what angle the screen is held at. The ZAGGkeys Cover doesn't have this limitation.
It uses a new design that lets you swivel the iPad over a fairly broad arc, so you can position the display at the angle that's right for you. There's also a reading mode, where the keyboard is clipped to the back of the iPad mini and out of the way.
This accessory communicates with the tablet over Bluetooth, so there's no need for wires to connect them.
The ZAGGkeys Cover is the only iPad mini keyboard I know of with a backlight to make it usable in low-light conditions, like a dimly-lit plane.
Even better, it gives you a choice of three brightness levels and seven different colors. I can see a use for the white and red options -- if you can find a use for blue, green, yellow, purple, or turquoise, that's great.
The backlight is a big battery drain though, but it turns itself off when you're not typing and comes back on when you hit a key. (Naturally you can turn it off completely.)
The ZAGGkeys Cover is packed with features, and yet manages to be very slender. Its this outstanding design and all those features that makes this one of the better external keyboards for the Apple iPad mini.
It's available now for $100 on the ZAGG website.