Review: ZAGG Slim Cover, Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Tablet Keyboard for Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and 4 (MC3WKK-BB0)
The following is a review of the ZAGG Slim Cover, Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Tablet Keyboard for Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and 4 (MC3WKK-BB0), received as part of the Amazon Vine program.
Actually on par with the official type cover
When I purchased my Surface Pro 4 a number of months ago I opted to spend the extra money to get the official type cover with it. Having used a couple other two-in-one machines, getting used to the keys wasn’t too hard.
When I saw the ZAGG Slim Cover up for review I jumped on it, as I wondered if they could do better. Having used it for a couple weeks now, I can honestly say the ZAGG Slim Cover is on par with the official covers, with some things being better, and some not.
First, we have the packaging. It’s extremely easy to take this out of the packaging. Slice the tape, slip the bag with it out, and then then connect it to your Surface with Bluetooth. A USB cable to charge the keyboard (it doesn’t use the Surface for power) is also included.
The size of the device is about the same thickness as my Surface Pro 4. This is a bit of downside, since the official type cover is really thin. Because of the size and weight it also doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s going to stay covering the Surface like the official one does. I didn’t run into any issues with this, but I put my Surface in an Amazon Basics case when I put it into my bag, so there wasn’t too many chances to test this.
The plus side of the depth of the keyboard is that the keys actually feel fairly normal. Not like a desktop keyboard, but closer to a traditional laptop. I also assume that the battery is another reason for the size. The only issue I had with the keys was a broken left arrow/Home key. The top of the key wouldn’t stay seated in the device. More on that later.
Like the type cover this keyboard does have backlit keys, however they’re either on or off, unlike the type cover’s range of brightness. Having used the type cover’s variable brightness this is actually a bit of a disappointment. Had the ZAGG keyboard been my first, I probably wouldn’t have cared as much.
Next up we have the battery. Surprisingly, I have yet to need to charge the battery on the device, although I did bounce between the two covers for all but the last week and a half. I also tend to use my Surface for some work meetings, and between 10 minutes to a couple hours after work / on the weekend. So, I can’t say I’ve put 40 hours of use into it over the last 3+ weeks, but it’s definitely more than a couple days. So while I thought having to charge the device would be an issue, it actually seems pretty efficient.
Next up we have how it connects to the Surface. This is actually the biggest downside, as if you connect it like you would the official type cover you’ll find that the taskbar is covered up slightly. At first this actually bothered me, but then I started disconnecting the keyboard from the Surface, and/or keeping it flat. The portability, especially when I was in bed at night, is something I’d miss if I had to go back to just my type cover.
Because it’s Bluetooth, this also means it can be used with other devices, with the ability to pair and bounce between two. I didn’t test this too much, but it worked as expected.
Finally, a few minor points. I rarely used the trackpad on the device. Clicking felt odd to me, but that’s probably more because of how little I use it (I’ve used an external mouse since I got my Surface, and wouldn’t switch back). For the very occasional mouse usage it worked fine.
What is still taking a while for me to get used to is the function keys. F1-F12 serve two purposes, with the default being the special functions. For example, F1 pairs with Bluetooth device 1, F2 with device 2, F5 pulls up settings, and F12 turns up the volume. As a web developer I use F5 and F12 a lot. And I keep screwing up and neglect to push the Fn key when I use these! F2 is another I mess up, but seemingly everytime I try to use it to rename a file. However, given that I rarely do this, it’s mostly muscle memory to blame. It would have been nice if the default was the function keys, much like how the Delete key acts as the power button if you hold down the Fn key while using it.
I mentioned above that I had a loose key, and used a replacement keyboard. I ended up contacting ZAGG support to see if they could assist me with the Home key issue. I was hoping they might be able to send a replacement key that I could swap in. I emailed in on a Saturday, around 11:30 a.m., stating the issue (leaving out that I was reviewing the product for Amazon), and received a response around four hours later. On Tuesday they had sent out a package with a replacement, which I thought was just going to be a key, but when I got it Friday (3-day shipping) it was a new keyboard.
I did have to contact them because I didn’t receive information on shipping the old product back, but (again on a Saturday) I received a response that I’d be getting an email with the necessary UPS shipping label. I still have to go through the rest of that process, and will update this review once the warranty is taken care of completely.
Honestly, I didn’t think the ZAGG keyboard was going to be able to match what Microsoft did in the type cover. But while the type cover has some advantages (backlit key variability, size, power via the Surface), the ZAGG keyboard wins out in other cases (portability, keys, ability to use with other devices). Knowing what I know now, I think I might actually recommend that people take a look at the ZAGG Slim Cover, Ultra-Slim Bluetooth Tablet Keyboard for Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and 4 (MC3WKK-BB0) when picking up a Surface Pro 4 (or 3), instead of just going with the Microsoft type cover. For effectively matching the type cover, I give the ZAGG Slim Cover a full five of five stars.
UPDATE: Belatedly, I received the UPS mailing label and was able to get the keyboard with the faulty left arrow shipped off without issue. I had no issue with them receiving it, and have had no issues with my replacement keyboard.
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