Tablet Keyboard Adventure

Hello readers,

As a reviewer I’ve always had a quiet bias against tablets. No, scratch that. I’ve always had a bias against people who tout tablets as replacements for laptops, desktops, and related hardware. As a rule even the fastest tablets couldn’t possibly compete with a properly setup laptop or desktop with say an i-5 and 8Gb Ram.

I stand by that assessment and call B.S. on anyone who says otherwise – however…

Recently I won a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 from the good folks at @Yingele_Parrot – It’s very nice – Basically “A souped up kindle fire at first glance.” – Even as nice as it is, it was not so spectacular as to make me want to spend a whole week using it exclusively.

I found myself using it for movies once in a while, a few games, the usual tablet stuff. Then I had a little cash to play with and I visited ebay. Bear in mind I didn’t exactly go rushing to the electronics section like a sociopath hell bent on buying a cheap tablet keyboard. But after several purchases I started “low balling prices” on all kinds of things.

Stuffed dragons and coffee grinders? I had to know how much that would set me back.

I looked for the least expensive espresso machines, laptops, pocketknives, etc. I do that kind of seemingly aimless browsing when I get a chance. Mostly I go to see what’s available online – that isn’t available around here offline.

Among my few actual purchases – Zagg Universal Bluetooth Keyboard. And from some other company who I’ll review if the product doesn’t suck, a bluetooth mouse for my tablet as well.

**** Update The Mouse Is A Perfect Accompaniment – It’s available here.

I bought them just in case “zombies eat my laptop.” Obviously I don’t expect to save the world via an android device because who has time to root android these days? And frankly it’s ridiculous that we can’t just push a button to do that – we own the device – we are/should be root!

$9.99 – for this keyboard. Less than 5 gallons of gas – think about that..

My excitement was still pretty well contained at the package’s arrival. I dragged everything out of the big envelope package and noted immediately that it was larger than I expected – but it was nice.

(Especially once I figured out that “it” was housed within the folio and realized I hadn’t been robbed!)

“It” was a chicklet style non-backlit keyboard with just a few well placed switches. “But will it connect?” It connected with ease – requiring only a switch flipped to the android icon, and a power switch, followed by a button press while my tablet scanned for the device.

My wonderful and amazing girlfriend had sent me a tablet case which doubles as a stand so I didn’t use the one supplied by Zagg. I was pleasantly surprised by the tab button cycling through the apps. It wasn’t but about 5 minutes before I started finding browser shortcuts and debating over whether I’d even need a mouse.

Within ten minutes I had rearranged the icons on the tablet to behave much more like a laptop/desktop and appreciating the agility of the Tab 4 managing to keep up with my typing and frenetic tab switching. (cntrl + 1-9 by the way)

It turns out alt + left arrow vs alt + right arrow can cycle through browsed pages – which I realized delighted me for some unknown reason. I suddenly wanted to switch my wallpaper on the tablet… I even wanted to add some apps and maybe put some music on the thing. It was quickly and quietly becoming a little laptop as I added the file manager app to the home screen. It was different – it actually started sucking less and less as I tinkered.

Something was definitely happening as this transition from “tablet with no keyboard” to “tablet with an awesome and agile keyboard!” took place – I suddenly cared about the tablet’s animation speed so i turned off animations and pretty much doubled the response time. Maybe not doubled but it feels quicker, and it’s doing more, and it has like 37 Gb of space left to play with.

“I realized I wouldn’t mistreat this keyboard – that’s how I claim things!”

I watched android start feeling a bit more like non android brand Linux than it ever had before, and It was interesting. I can only assume that people using Windows Mobile, or whatever Apple calls their Mobile OS, would have a similar experience.

$9.99 for the most interesting experience – and my bias is fading a bit. I can see why someone would elect to use Android tablets if they don’t have to do some specifically unfriendly “just because it’s on a tablet you pretty much can’t do it yet” tasks.

But that’s so much less bias than I felt simply yesterday.

Review: Having only normal keyboards for comparison I’ll say this Keyboard is in every way adequate and comparable to any usb keyboard or bluetooth device I’ve ever used. Our criteria will be a bit different for this device is multi category.

Speed = Solid 4.5 – The only lag could very easily be tablet related and it in no way impacted performance or I’d be vicious about it.

Stability = 5 – Unquestionably a good rugged design, excellent weight and shape, ideal size.

Looks = 4.5 – Sleek and stylish but there are probably prettier contenders in this department.

Charge = 5 – I’ve used devices that drain within 4 hours of use and this one hasn’t even bled down to the next tier of led color which indicates power loss.

Range = 5  – I might catch hell for saying it’s range is perfect but when you consider that past 40 feet you can’t see any text on a 10″ tablet let alone my 7″ tablet, I couldn’t ask for better range.

Versatility = 4.5 – Impressive range of interaction. If it has a way to connect to a laptop running Linux and I discover it, it will become a 5 instantly.

4.75 out of 5 Stars – I’d happily buy it again!

 

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