Logitech Tablet Keyboard for Galaxy Tab 10.1: Near laptop replacement (review)

Summary:The Logitech Tablet Keyboard for the Galaxy Tab 10.1, made by ZAGG, is a good wireless keyboard for mobile content creation.

My dream tablet doesn't yet exist but after I wrote that article I remembered that the ZAGG keyboard I mentioned would soon be released by Logitech for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. While the Logitech web site still indicates that only pre-orders are possible, I plunked down my money and discovered that it is now shipping. My Logitech Tablet Keyboard arrived a few days ago and I have been using it heavily since then.

A popular portable keyboard for the iPad is the ZAGG keyboard/case that turns the iPad into a near laptop replacement. Computer peripheral maker Logitech recognized the quality of this keyboard and sells it with its own products. This peripheral for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is largely the same as the iPad version.

Check out the Logitech Tablet Keyboard for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in photos


Image Gallery: Logitech Tablet Keyboard made by ZAGG
Image Gallery: Charge
Image Gallery: Charge
The case is a simple tray made of brushed aluminum that is well constructed. It adds a bit of weight to the ultralight Galaxy Tab when it is nestled in the tray but it offers good protection for the tablet's screen. The Tab simply snaps into the case that is padded inside at the corners to both protect and hold the tablet securely in the case. The entire unit is only slightly bulkier than the thin Tab, and is a little heavier. The back of the tablet is exposed while in the case.

The real utility of the Logitech case is evident when the tablet is removed from the tray. A near full-size (92%) Bluetooth keyboard is presented that turns the Galaxy Tab into a little laptop. The chiclet keys have a good feel, and I can type almost as fast using this keyboard as I can on any keyboard. The tablet sits in a special slot above the keyboard that looks hardly big enough to secure the Galaxy Tab but does so in either landscape or portrait orientation. The tablet is easy to pop into this slot, and just as easily removed when it is time to pack up.

The Logitech has a rechargable battery that lasts weeks with normal usage according to the company. A friend using the iPad version tells me the keyboard works for months on a charge, and this should be no different. Power requirements are minimal, as power is only needed for the Bluetooth radio that is used to connect the keyboard to the Galaxy Tab. Pairing the two devices takes a couple of steps, which is only needed the first time the keyboard is used. The keyboard auto-connects to the tablet ìn just a second or two when turned on after it is paired.

Logitech has included a number of special keys designed to be shortcuts to commonly performed tasks on the Tab. Searching through the Android Market found a free app that Logitech has written that enables all of these special keys. There is no mention of this app in the documentation that accompanied the keyboard, and no detail indicating which keys are enabled when it is run.

The Logitech keyboard will not work with third-party onscreen keyboards as the active keyboard. I normally use the SwiftKey Tablet keyboard on the Tab, and when the Logitech keyboard is paired it pops up a dialog box that informs me that the Samsung default keyboard must be the active one to use the Logitech. It changes the keyboard back to the Samsung one, so no further action is required. I suspect this has to do with some third-party keyboards using predictive text, which would interfere with using a physical keyboard. The Samsung keyboard remains active until manually switching back to a preferred keyboard when the Logitech is no longer being used.

The top row of the Logitech has keys to perform cut, copy, and paste functions. There are also shortcut keys to launch email, the web browser, and contacts. There are even media control buttons that operate the music player, and three volume buttons. The two keys I use the most are the Home button and the Return button, which is convenient to do from the keyboard and makes it possible to control the Android system without going to the touchscreen. These keys only launch the default Tab apps, so if you use another browser and/or email app they cannot be configured to launch these instead. It would be nice to at least see Logitech set these to launch whatever might be the default browser, and not the Samsung app.

The keys are chiclet style and well-spaced for rapid typing. The keyboard works as well as those found on many laptops and netbooks. The lip around the keyboard does not interfere with typing. The Galaxy Tab sits securely in the docking slot, but there is no way to adjust the viewing angle; this has not been a problem during my usage given the good viewing angles on the Tab.

Putting the tablet into the case is as easy as setting it on top of the keyboard with the screen down and lightly pushing the edges. The Tab sits snugly in the case with no worry about it falling out during transport. Removing the Tab from the case is easier if you set the case on its edge and gently pull the Tab away from the case.

There are cutouts in the lip of the Logitech case to allow charging the tablet without removing it from the case. There are also two cutouts that correspond to the two speakers so they can be heard while in the case. I'm not sure why you would every need to play audio while in the case, as the screen is not visible.

The Logitech Tablet Keyboard is easily the best mobile keyboard I have used for tablets. It is designed specifically for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and this integration turns the tablet into a netbook replacement. Using the two together demonstrates this integration, as they feel like a single device during usage.

Logitech didn't do everything right with this keyboard. It has a microUSB port for charging, but only included a 6-inch USB-to-microUSB cable for charging. For $99, I expected to find a power adapter in the box, but Logitech instructs you to use the cable with a powered laptop USB port for charging. While standard power adapters and microUSB cables will likely work, the omission doesn't make Logitech look good. Even without the adapter, a 6-inch cable is so short to be ridiculous, and very difficult to use.

The Logitech keyboard/case is expensive at $99.99, but it adds so much value to the Galaxy Tab that it is worth it for those wanting a good mobile device for content creation. As some users do with the iPad, I could see Galaxy Tab owners leaving the laptop at home for short trips and carrying the Tab in the Logitech Tablet Keyboard. While I wish it was cheaper, I am happy with my purchase given the utility it provides.

Related:

Topics: Hardware, Android, Google, Mobility, Samsung, Tablets

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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