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Review: Zagg Rugged Book Go & Slim Book provide protection and a keyboard for iPad Pro

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The Zagg Slim Book Go and Rugged Book Go are popular keyboard cases for the latest-generation iPad Pro that offer good protection coupled with the productivity of a keyboard for your new iPad Pro.

Zagg's Slim Book Go and the Rugged Book Go aren't all that different. Many features of the Slim Book Go are carried over to the Rugged Book Go. Each of these cases will fit the 11-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro though we are looking at the latter for this review.

Both of these devices encompass the new 2020 iPad Pros on all sides. When shut, the iPad Pro is completely covered — other than the camera bump. The keyboard covers the face of the iPad and the cover protects the rest.

Around back on each case is a very strong kickstand. Instead of angling away from the middle of the iPad like a traditional kickstand, it connects at the bottom. The hinge is right against the edge and the stand is flat against the tabletop or desk. It has a very strong feel to it and that stand has a rubberized edge to keep it from sliding.

By creating the stand this way instead of jutting out from the middle of the iPad it has a much sleeker look. It also works fairly well when on your lap, though since the keyboards come free, it is even better to type on your lap with the iPad in front of you on some other surface.

Speaking of keyboards, Zagg didn't skimp. These keyboards are delightful to type on. There is solid key movement, little lateral key movement, and a tactile matte finish on them. All the keys are backlit, and that backlight can be adjusted. As with any keyboard, it will take time to adjust to what you're typing on now.

Slim Book Go and Rugged Book Go have solid keyboards
Slim Book Go and Rugged Book Go have solid keyboards

The keys have slightly rounded keycaps which we've seen from Zagg in the past. If you have a tendency to land on the corners of keys, which coming from an Apple keyboard is easy to do because the keys are so solid, you may slip off the corners. But there is always going to be some adjusting going to any new keyboard.

They have a full row of function keys along the top as well. This is a feature sorely missing from Apple's own iPad-centric keyboards and is well-implemented here. It is fast and easy to control media, adjust volume, access the app switcher, and more. Finally, these keyboards can also connect to two devices at once and alternate between on a whim.

Slim Book Go (top) and Rugged Book Go (bottom)
Slim Book Go (top) and Rugged Book Go (bottom)

If it wasn't obvious due to their detachable nature, these keyboards connect via Bluetooth. This is how they pair to multiple devices and gives them that bit of range. The downside is that they are now another device that needs charged. When a keyboard uses the Smart Connector it leeches off the iPad's power and doesn't require charging on its own. Of course, then it can't be used when detached.

To check the battery life, press the fn and battery life key. The power LED will flash three times in either green, yellow, or red. With three green flashes representing more than 50 percent battery remaining, yellow representing 25 to 50 percent, and red signaling less than 25 percent. To power up, there is a USB-C port on the right side.

Zagg Slim Book Go

Slim Book Go
Slim Book Go

Slim Book Go is the more sleek option of the two. The detachable keyboard is wrapped in a svelte fabric rather than just plastic. It is a bit lower profile and weighs slightly less than the Rugged Book Go but the design and materials are what allow it to go into your bag with less friction.

Fabric cover on the Slim Book Go iPad Pro keyboard case
Fabric cover on the Slim Book Go iPad Pro keyboard case

It has an integrated Apple Pencil holder on the inside of the cover, tucking it away in a magnetic chamber so it doesn't ever get dislodged while on the go. It sits right by the iPad Pro nearest the hinge. There is also a slight ridge on the keyboard side, allowing you to place the Apple Pencil there to prevent it from rolling away when not in use.

Slim Book Go using its stand
Slim Book Go using its stand

The keyboard is completely flat against your table or desk, which can be at times a little uncomfortable but we love being able to detach it and use our iPad more like a display a few inches away instead of all compressed for space.

It does offer ample protection here, and is the one we prefer, but if you really will be putting the durability to the test, check out the Rugged Book Go.

Zagg Rugged Book Go

What the Rugged Book Go does differently, is its more robust design. It isn't all that much bulkier, though it does add a bit to the thickness and to the width. It also trades the sleek fabric material around the keyboard and plastic shell for a TPU-coated case instead.

With this rubber-like coating added around both the keyboard and the iPad, it is able to withstand drops from more than six and a half feet in the air. If drops are your biggest concern, the Rugged Book Go is the better option here.

Zagg Rugged Book for 2020 iPad Pro
Zagg Rugged Book for 2020 iPad Pro

The keyboard of the Rugged Book Go also connects differently. It has a larger hinge and when opened, it lifts the rear of the keyboard into the air a bit less than an inch, creating an angled typing experience.

Apple Pencil is protected here as well with a TPU sleeve on the side of the case, allowing it to charge while being protected.

Should buy the Rugged Book Go or Slim Book Go?

Pros

  • Adjustable and slim kickstand
  • Protective and durable
  • Great keyboard
  • Keyboard can be completely removed
  • Adjustable backlight
  • Function row of keys
  • Use USB-C

Cons

  • No trackpad
  • Need charged rather than the Smart Connector
  • Rounded keycaps takes slight adjustment
  • No brightness keys on keyboard

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

The Slim Book Go is available from Zagg for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch 2020 iPad Pros starting at $99, which also will fit the previous generation, 2018 models, as well. The Rugged Book Go is also available for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models for $149.

 

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