The on-screen keyboard for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is nice enough, but I wouldn't want to use it to enter more than a couple of paragraphs of text. When it comes time for real work, I turn to an external keyboard, such as the Logitech Keyboard Case designed for my tablet.
BUILD & DESIGN
As its name indicates, this is both a case and a keyboard. This makes it easy for you to bring your tablet and keyboard with you when you're on the go.
You put the tablet and the keyboard face-to-face, and the case will hold the two together. This protects the delicate screen from scratches or other damage.
Keep in mind, though, it does nothing to protect the back. I don't generally care what the back of my tablet looks like, and accept some scratches as par for the course, but you might have a different opinion. Also, when the Tab 10.1 and keyboard are connected the combination is still quite slim. Most bags designed to hold a tablet can hold this too.
The exterior of the case is made of aircraft aluminum, which means it's lightweight and relatively strong. It's not designed to take a whole lot of punishment, so don't throw your tablet down the stairs, but it can put up with day-to-day use. I've had mine for a week and it is so far scratch-free, but I've been carrying it around in a portfolio case.
The Galaxy Tab fits quite snugly into the case, and I have no worries about it falling out. Actually, it takes some real finger strength to get the two apart.
The keyboard part of this accessory is, obviously, the most important. As keyboards go it's decent.
The size is good, thanks to the width of the tablet. It’s not the size of a regular PC keyboard, but it's not small or cramped. Touch typing is quite possible for anyone with roughly average-sized hands.
The feel of the keys, on the other hand, isn't great. They feel cheap and just a bit flimsy. There's a decent amount of key travel, but this just isn't the most comfortable to use keyboard I've ever experienced.
This isn't a deal breaker -- this keyboard is vastly better to type on for long periods of time than an on-screen one (I'm writing this review on it), but I wish the same type of keys had been used on this accessory as are in the iPad version, the Logitech Keyboard Case by Zagg. Those are much better.
Aside from the standard letter and number keys, there's a row of function keys. There are ones dedicated to opening the default web browser, email app, and address book. There's also a set for cut, copy, and paste, one to lock the tablet, and one to start voice control. For those of you who like to listen to music while you work, a collection of keys can handle play and pause, fast forward and rewind, and also control the volume.
There's a slot just above the keys where that you insert the tablet to hold it up at a when you're typing. Unlike a laptop you can't adjust the angle, but it works well for me.
You can use either portrait or landscape mode, and each option has advantages. In portrait mode you can plug the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in while you're using it, so you don't have to even think about battery life. This tablet is so tall, though, that this arrangement isn't 100% stable. If you need to touch something at the top of the display, the front of the keyboard will rise up off the table. Landscape mode is much more stable but the power port is blocked.
The Logitech Keyboard Case communicates with the tablet over Bluetooth. No additional software is necessary, as Google built support for Bluetooth keyboards into Android OS 3.x. This is both a blessing and a curse: you don't have to mess around with installing additional software, but the default driver isn't very good.
The biggest issue is that the on-screen keyboard keeps popping up. Every time I touch the display to move the cursor the unwanted on-screen keyboard comes up and has to be dismissed. This got so irritating I went to the Android Market and downloaded Null Keyboard, a handy little app that acts like an on-screen keyboard but doesn't actually display anything so I can keep typing on the Bluetooth one.
Aside from this, there are some minor irritations. For example, sometimes the default email app doesn't get along with the Bluetooth keyboard. It will crash repeatedly and I'm forced to turn off the keyboard in order to finish the message I want to write.
Android OS 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is coming soon, and I sincerely hope Google spent some more time on the software for Bluetooth keyboards. It would help a lot. Which isn't to say that my experience with this accessory has been a painful one -- installing Null Keyboard took care of my biggest complaint, and some features work perfectly, such as Bluetooth pairing.
I can assure you the battery life is very good, but exactly how good I don't know yet because despite many, many hours of use I haven't yet had to recharge this accessory. The iPad version of this keyboard will typically last me 3-4 months on a single charge, and this version seems to be on its way to lasting that long too.
If you frequently need to enter a lot of text onto your Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a lot of different places, the Logitech Keyboard Case is a decent option. It's very easy to carry around, and is a significantly better experience than using the on-screen keyboard.
The keys could be a bit more comfortable, and there's room for improvement in the Android software driver, but these aren't fatal flaws.
This accessory sells for $100 on Logitech's website.
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