Quick TakeThis accessory is capable of making a great Android device even more productive, whether in a business meeting or a classroom.
Tablets that can transform into laptops are a hot item right now, and Samsung has begun offering a keyboard case for its new Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 that enables this Android tablet to function like a 2-in-1. Unlike most similar accessories, this includes not just a QWERTY keyboard — it also has a trackpad.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 Keyboard Cover is available now for $149.99.
Build and Design
There are two parts to this item: the keyboard with trackpad, and a folio cover that protects both the tablet and the keyboard.
The cover wraps around four sides of the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 and clips closed with magnets. It provides a decent amount of protection from day-to-day knocks and bumps. It’s not a rugged case by any means, however.
It can be reconfigured into a stand for the tablet, and can hold the device at three different angles from about 70 degrees down to about 20 degrees. The magnets that hold it in the various shapes are strong enough hold the device fairly firmly.
The stand and keyboard can be used in the lap without problems. There’s an opening for the rear camera, and none of the tablets buttons are covered.
Samsung was clearly thinking business use and not fashion because this accessory comes in just two colors: black and white. It’s good looking, though, in a plasticy way.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 Keyboard Cover includes six rows of keys in a standard QWERTY layout, with a set of arrow keys. Because it is the standard layout, there’s no hunting for keys that have been moved to odd locations.
The keyboard is the size typically found in a laptop, so it’s a bit smaller than a desktop keyboard. Its size is constrained by the width of the tablet… this accessory can’t be wider than the device it’s designed to work with.
The actual keys are slightly smaller than they could be, so there’s a bit more space between them than it typical on laptop or tablet keyboards. The design is decidedly different from keyboards like the one Microsoft makes for its Surface tablets, where the keys touch each other. This doesn’t dramatically effect the use, but it does take a little bit of getting used to. The extra space around the keys means they don’t feel cramped, even if the keys themselves are smallish.
Samsung included an extra row of function keys above the number/symbol row. This makes it easy to adjust the backlight and the music volume with just the push of a button. There are also alternatives for the on-screen Back, Home, and Recent Apps buttons, plus one to deactivate/reactivate the trackpad.
It’s quite possible that many who have an Android tablet don’t realize that their device can be controlled with a Bluetooth mouse as easily as it can be with an external keyboard. The Keyboard Cover takes advantage of this by including a trackpad.
The pad is a bit small, but quite usable. It’s smooth, and there’s no separate button, so items are selected by tapping on the trackpad. It supports click and drag.
Those who are accustomed to using a laptop with a trackpad should find using the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 and this Keyboard Cover to be a familiar experience.
There’s no additional software required to use the keyboard or trackpad, as Google built support for both types of wireless accessories into the Android operating system. All that’s necessary is to pair the Keyboard Cover with the Galaxy Tab S2 and typing can begin.
Because there’s no third-party software involved, there are no performance issues, and no bugs to make the keyboard stop working. It’s capable of keeping up with the fastest typists.
There’s a button on the side to turn this device on and off, but it’s not necessary to use it very often, as the keyboard will deactivate itself to save power if it isn’t used for a few minutes.
The Keyboard Cover has a built-in battery, and it comes with a micro-USB cable to recharge it. This uses the same charger as the Galaxy Tab S2. Doing so probably won’t be necessary very often, as the 520mA battery should be able to power a Bluetooth device like this one for months.
As our review showed, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 is a powerful Android tablet, able to hold its own against rival flagship models. Samsung’s Keyboard Cover is a worthy addition for those who want to turn their tablet into a 2-in-1.
The slightly smallish keys don’t significantly affect use, and this accessory is capable of making a great Android device even more productive, whether in a business meeting or a classroom.
At $149.99, this item is near the top of the price range in add-on keyboard accessories. On the other hand, it offers some unique features.
For one, no other company offers a keyboard case specifically designed to work with the Galaxy Tab S2 9.7. Models designed to work with other tablets typically run $100 to $130, so this one isn’t completely out of line. That said, there are universal mobile keyboards available for much less.
What shouldn’t be overlooked this, is that Samsung’s offering has a trackpad, and no other tablet keyboard we’ve reviewed has one of these. So those who want a keyboard case with a trackpad designed to work specifically with Samsung’s new flagship tablet, this is the only option, no matter the price.