For many of us (myself included), for a good tablet to be more than just a content consumption device, an equally good keyboard is mandatory. With the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S — especially the larger 10-inch version — we see a tablet that can do just about anything we throw at it, and do it well. It’s a perfect content consumption device out-of-the-box. But like any touchscreen device, actually working on the thing leaves a lot to be desired.
The addition of the Logitech Type-S Bluetooth Keyboard case makes all the difference, and turns your Tab S into a little workhorse.
When you stick a keyboard case on a tablet, you need it to do two things really well — protect your tablet (these things ain’t cheap), and allow us to type reasonably fast without tons of errors and typos because the keys or layout sucks. In addition, we want it to look good. The Type-S case does all three. It attaches to your Tab S (the 10-incher) using what Logitech calls the “SecureLock” method, using grooves and clips at the corners, the top and the bottom of your tablet. It’s easy to slip in and out, but once it’s in there it’s going to stay unless you squeeze at the little slot on the bottom and want it to come out. It’s not anything more innovative that what we’ve seen before from case manufacturers, but it works nicely and will keep your tablet and your keyboard case together as a unit. I like it.
While folded closed, the case covers everything you would want to be covered, and the mix of hard plastic and woven cotton duck-like material feels rugged and solid. You should have no issue tossing your Tab S into a backpack and heading for class, or in your briefcase and riding that train to your 9-to-5 while this case is on. Magnets in strategic places keep everything closed up tightly, and when you’re ready to crack it open and get to work a magnet also holds the tablet in the semi-upright position you want it to be in. The form factor is done right, and the package looks good.
You’ve got 64 physical chiclet keys, and the addition of a function key gives you a standard keyboard experience like you would find on a laptop. There’s no number pad, but there are arrow keys as well as Android-specific keys like Home and Search. The function buttons maps the top row of keys for quick shortcuts to things like mail, music (and music controls), volume, and there’s even a camera button. If you’re a person who doesn’t look at the keys while typing (guilty) it will take a day or two to get used to where all this is, but the layout is pretty sane and muscle memory will soon make you a master.
The keys are a bit small — like most any keyboard designed for mobile devices — but even my thick fingers were able to adjust and I’m able to bang out a string of words with no more typos than usual. I’m using it to write this review, and have no issues worth singling out. Given, this isn’t as good of an experience as working from my desktop, but I didn’t expect it to be. The keys are a little “soft” but have plenty of travel and you get a good amount of tactile feedback. Given the size constraints, I think Logitech delivered a great product here.
I don’t get to keep my Galaxy Tab S 10.5. I wish I did, but that’s not how it all works. Samsung sends them for us to test, review, abuse and enjoy then we box them up and send them back. If I buy one of my own (and I just might — I think they’re one of the best Android tablets ever) I’ll be getting a Logitech Type-S Keyboard case for it. With this keyboard, I can do more than watch Netflix and surf the web. I can get work done. This is a combo I could take to some desert island when I write my novel, or one I could use to fill out spreadsheets on the train.
The keyboard itself is a standard Bluetooth keyboard input device as far as Android is concerned. You make sure Bluetooth is enabled on the host device, turn the keyboard on via the small switch on the side, and tap to pair it to the Tab S. There is no fiddling around with settings or mapping keys, everything just works. The Type-S keyboard case was made for the Galaxy Tab S, and the result is an easy setup. We love seeing this, and kudos to Samsung and Logitech for getting together to create such a seamless experience.
Once paired up, the physical keyboard acts like any other keyboard (software-based, that is) and you’re free to change back to the on-screen version or a third-party like SwiftKey at will by choosing from the notification icon. But you won’t want to.