Tablets have become insanely powerful in the past few years. Gone are the days when they struggled to be web browsers and e-readers. Now, they’re full-blown content creation (and consumption) slabs. With the advent of keyboard and mouse support, that means you could actually make a stab at turning, say, your iPad Pro into a laptop replacement. The first of these that we’ll be taking a look at is the Zagg Rugged Book Go.

The Zagg Rugged Book Go is a fairly basic, plasticky case that snuggly holds your iPad Pro, complete with a spot that will hold (and protect) your Apple Pencil while it’s on it’s charging connection. The portion that holds your tablet also has a hinged bit that’s a kickstand, so you can set the iPad at the viewing angle you want. And this works whether or not you have the keyboard attached.

Yes, that’s right, you can easily detach the keyboard of the Zagg Rugged Book Go. It just hooks on magnetically to the back portion of the case. When it’s attached, and you have your iPad kicked up using the stand, you actually get a little bit of a lift at the rear of the keyboard, giving a more comfortable typing angle. Then again, if it’s detached, you can still type, as it’s connecting to the tablet using Bluetooth. Or your computer or phone, if you like. The keyboard has hot keys that easily let you connect – and then switch – between two different devices.

If you’re using it with an iOS device, though, there are some hot keys that give you some nice functionality – drop to the screen (just like pressing the home button, show/hide the on-screen keyboard, and even pull up all the apps running. Anything that helps you progress through your workflow without needing to lift from the keyboard is a good thing in my book. You do also have media and volume controls present as well, which I find useful on any keyboard, whether or not it’s specific to a mobile device.

How is it to type on the Zagg Rugged Book Go? I’m glad you asked. I’m writing this review on it, actually, and as with any keyboard, you’ve got a little bit of a learning curve to go through to teach your fingers where the keys are. The chiclet-style keys are decently sized, and are backlit (in your choice of colors) which helps with typing in the dark. They’re not going to be as clicky as your mechanical keyboard, but that’s to be expected. What you’re getting here is a more regular-feeling typing sensation as opposed to typing on a visual keyboard.

If you’re used to a more compact layout – either from a truncated mechanical keyboard, or those often found in smaller laptops – you’ll be at home here. Myself, it’s an adjustment coming from the full-sized keyboard my WFH utilizes. However, as it’s sized to the dimensions of the iPad, you’ve got to make concessions in space. You do still have arrow keys, which is a must in any keyboard, and again, helps with moving through whatever it is you’re typing, be it an email or an article.

So, as far as having a small, portable keyboard with you with built-in keys specific to your iPad Pro goes, the Zagg Rugged Book Go gets the job done. Judged solely as a case, though, it falls a little short in my own judging. The main case itself is just a thin bit of plastic, which doesn’t give much in terms of drop protection. I’d also recommend some sort of screen protector (in this case the Invisible Shield line would work well) as the keyboard is the only screen cover. If it’s detached, there’s no flap you can fold over to cover the screen as you walk around or pop it into a bag. Which, if you’re a heavy keyboard user, that’s perhaps not a major issue. If you flip back and forth, though, that lack of a thinner screen cover option might be a deal breaker.

Then again, you might be looking for something with a trackpad built in as well so you don’t even need to touch the screen. We do have one of those in for review as well, so keep an eye out for that. If that’s not a need for you, and you’re just looking for a portable Bluetooth keyboard/case for your iPad Pro, then the Zagg Rugged Book Go may get the job done. For me, it wasn’t a perfect fit for my own use case. It is worth noting, this is a prior version that we’re reviewing here (took us a while to get to it), and the current version looks like the main case is a bit more robust. Also, the keys have gone from chiclet-style to being more squared-off. If I had to guess, the key travel and overall typing experience will be similar. The latest version keeps pricing the same, at $129.99, and is available for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, 9.7-inch iPad, iPad Air 2, iPad Air.

By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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