Mini-me Minimalist - packing light with an iPad mini and ZAGG KEYS Mini 9 keyboard

I don't know if I have made this clear, but I travel a lot. In the last 20 months I have been to:

Abu Dhabi, UAE
Melbourne, Bendigo, and Ballarat (via Singapore) Australia (twice each)
Orlando, Florida
San Diego, California
Valencia, Spain

London, Oxford, Birmingham, Belfast and Manchester, United Kingdom.

Letterkenny, Cork, Galway and Louisberg, Ireland.

I travel to give keynote presentations or deliver Grace App and "Autism 101" workshops and since the end of 2010 I stopped bringing my Macbook.
It was one less thing to get out of my bag and have x-rayed when going through airport security, and there were often compatibility issues with the projection equipment in venues where I present.
Since I started presenting exclusively from the iPad2,  I have never once had a problem plugging in to the available connector using my adaptor.

I still get asked to use the PC but I just say "This is a presentation about iPads, I am using my iPad to present it" while smiling and trying not to sound facetious. (it is a challenge)

When I got my iPad mini I was able to bring it along with the iPad 2 and present from either as the "Cloud" shared my keynotes automatically. (I always look up when I say "cloud"as if all my data is floating in the ether above)

It helps to have a device to pass around to people to demonstrate, while also having a back up of all my presentations should something go wrong. Recently, the mini started powering off spontaneously mid preso*,  a potential disaster averted as I seamlessly unplugged and switched to the Maxi-pad (as I call it) while pretending it was part of the show.

Thanks to 3G, I can do all my preparation, communication and social media on my iPads wherever I am in the world. I just check on Twitter which Telco has the best deal on pay as you go sim cards and load up a good bit of local data access.
It saves me the terror of wifi failures - and yes, I have been to many a "tech conference" where the organisers did not know even know if they had wifi in the venue, let alone the password to access it!

So I can take, save and edit photos, search the web for images, create and embed links and download and store videos, which is good as I tend leave it up to the last minute to prepare my slides for presentations.

An iPad is a much more train/plane and waiting room friendly device to work on too. You can quickly get it out to catch up on emails, then shove it back in your handbag when it is time to switch off. You can't do that with a precious MacBook!

Back home, it is a much safer way for me to work with the kids around. I use the Otterbox Defender covers as they offer both screen and impact protection while being sleek enough to carry around. And when I get interrupted I can literally chuck the iPad on to the bed and give my attention to my kids.

I cannot say the same about my precious MacBook. Sure, it is a "laptop" but when you are likely to be dive bombed by a 14 year old who wants to play "nigh nigh" under your quilt you do not want a €1400 laptop breaking in half.

You might be thinking "why have a computer at all?' when I seem to be able to do everything on the iPads. And the truth is, while I can Type on an iPad, I can't actually "write" on it - meaning, I can't compose my thoughts fluently into a blog post or any other intense writing task.

I learned to touch type in 1984 on an old Olivetti manual and my key stroke is just too strong for an iPad. I don't break it, but I can't type accurately as the layout is just too different. So my composition is disjointed as I keep going back to correct mistakes, or reset the language selection from Mandarin Chinese for the 7th time. It drove me nuts - until I found the solution:

My Chubby fingers editing the Grace App Slides

The ZAGG KEYS Mini 9 is a compact mac compatible keyboard in a slim line but sturdy metal case that fits around the iPad mini.

From the CompuB site:

"Custom made for the iPad mini, the MINI 9 is the ideal Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet. Designed with island-style keys that provide maximum space for accurate, natural typing, the MINI 9 is a must have for any iPad mini user. Also, special function keys operate essential typing functions so you can do more from the convenience of your keyboard."

They also do a 7 inch version which would fit the iPad mini perfectly - my younger sister said she would prefer this as she did not like the "look" of the space either side of the iPad mini in the 9 inch case. I prefer practicality over aesthetics and really like the 9.

I absolutely adore this. I got it to do a review from CompuB in Dublin more than 2 months ago and I have used it constantly* since. It allows me to type fluently and naturally on most surfaces (sitting up in bed requires some pillow arranging but it works) and it protects the iPad very well too.

When travelling I have to keep up with emails and sometimes have to reply to questionaires for interviews or handle a customer complaint. I can't afford typos or disjointed layouts when I need to express myself clearly.

The ZAGG mini keys does the job perfectly. In fact the interview I replied to while in transit via Singapore last month is in The September Issue of Image Magazine - "Working 24/7"

And while the mini is my work machine, it is also Liam safe:

The soon to be 16 year old types me an email listing what videos he wants tomorrow.

It's all good. Liam really likes it as he types at about 200 words per minute which can be pretty tough on a glass screen.
And it slides sleekly in and out of any handbag, roll on bag or even the seat back on a long haul flight.

My only difficulty with the case was fitting the iPad in for the first time. It feels extremely unnatural to push the glass screen into the metal case as the manual describes - you feel like you will break it.

But I went online and watched an excellent "unboxing" video and got over my queasiness enough to click it firmly into place. My tip: insert the iPad with the volume controls inside the insert slot and then push from the base. It fits VERY firmly so be sure to put in your 3G sim before you start.

The Bluetooth functionality is faultless with wifi, but if you are using 3G you need to go into settings on the iPad and remind it to connect to the keyboard. I guess this is a security feature?

The keyboard is rechargable using the cord supplied (which also fits other smartphones) and the battery lasts for hours and hours and hours and hours. Seriously, in 9 weeks I think I have charged it twice!

So highly recommended here - I call this one a must have for the Snumpreneur, on the move!


My thanks to the lovely Fiona from CompuB Grafton Street for supplying the Keyboard for review. She has been exceptionally patient with my inability to compose (regardless of keyboards) while my kids are off school for the summer.
*The iPad mini was faulty, but replaced seamlessly under warranty when I got back from Australia, by the official service agents for Apple, who also happen to be CompuB - this time in Dundrum.


jazzygal said…
Excellent review. Something that might interest my boy.

I constantly make errors when typing, so much so I'm convinced I have dyslexic fingers!

My, you do travel a lot. I have relatives visiting Ireland from Melbourne this month!

xx Jazzy
It does look perfect for travelling! And I know a few people who might be interested in this idea :) x
Clive said…
Superb review and you've really got us thinking ...

We have been on more planes this year than ever before and the less we have to take out at security the better! The dog beeps anyway, Murray goes crazy when he gets patted down and having to remember to take laptops out and put in to luggage is something we don't need! We have been known to walk away leaving the said laptop at the security gate!

We are defintely going to check this out - the birthday boy still hasn't got his present yet!

Thanks for a great review - it's given us a great idea!!
Iphonesia said…
Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.

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