What's Not: Wish the keyboard doesn't put the tablet in the "Dock" screen.
Samsung launched several essential accessories with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android Honeycomb tablet, and the Full Size Keyboard Dock functions as both a keyboard and a media dock. If you only need a multi-media dock, check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Multi-Media Dock. The Full Size Keyboard Dock for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a built-in cradle that makes it very convenient to dock the large tablet in the best angle to use with the keyboard. The keyboard dock has a standard US keyboard layout, plus a dedicated row of Android specific keys and multimedia playback keys. And like the Multi-Media Dock from Samsung, the Full Size Keyboard Dock comes with a 3.5mm audio out jack and a pass-through data sync port.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock is reasonably slim but heavier than many portable tablet keyboards we've seen, such as the HP TouchPad Wireless Keyboard or the Motorola Wireless Keyboard for the Xoom. But these keyboards don't come with a cradle to hold the tablet, so they can afford to be light and ultra-thin. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock weighs 1 lb and 5.4 oz., and the tablet is steady when it's sitting in the keyboard's cradle. The Samsung keyboard actually has a less tilted angle than the HP TouchPad's keyboard. The keys on the Samsung keyboard have matted surface that feel soft and not slippery when typing on them.
Along with a notebook size chiclet keyboard, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock also has a data sync port and an audio out which come in very handy if you are using the keyboard also as a multimedia playback dock. You can hook up stereo speakers via the keyboard for music and movie playback. You can also sync your tablet while it's in the keyboard dock, and charge the Galaxy Tab 10.1 via AC (not via PC) while it's in the keyboard dock as well. They Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock has a long rubber strip on the bottom towards the back and two rubber feet towards the front to prevent the keyboard dock from slipping on a smooth surface.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock is a bit shorter and narrower than a 13" notebook keyboard, but keys have good space and size that you won't feel cramped when you are typing on this keyboard. While the keyboard has nice keys, the key travel is shallow which might be the only thing to get used to when you start using this keyboard.
The key locations are standard with 2X sized Backspace keys and 2X sized Shift key on the left. The right Shift key is not double sized. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock has a dedicated top row of Android keys that make sworking with the tablet a lot easier and minimizing the number of times you have to use the touchscreen. It's very nice to have a hardware keys mapped to all standard Android Honeycomb on-screen controls including keys for Back, Home, Running Apps, Application screen, Menu, Delete, Screen on/off as well multimedia playback controls keys, sound and screen brightness control keys. And just for a good measure, Samsung throws in dedicated keys for launching the web browser, email app, search and voice search.
One thing that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock performs better than the HP TouchPad Wireless Keyboard is that the four directional keys on the keyboard can control navigation in just about everything including navigating the app screen, in a web page, in a document, on a map and more. What's even more is that when you combine the four directional keys with the Control key, they turn into Page Up/Down, Home and End keys. Nice!
When the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock works as designed, it's a highly functional keyboard thanks to the dedicated Android keys. But it's not without the first gen glitches. If you've read our Multi-Media Dock review, you'd know that the dock puts the tablet in a Dock screen where the Home key is disabled. The Keyboard Dock tends to do the same thing if you are not careful. When that happens, you can't easily get to the Home screen or app screen even using the touch buttons on the tablet. The Back button and running apps button work on the tablet, so you can get back to the last app or screen you were in or any apps you have running by using the on-screen button. The nice dedicated Android hardware keys on the keyboard don't work when the tablet is in the "Dock" screen mode. That's bad!
The only thing that seems to get you out of this is to shut down the Galaxy Tab 10.1 before you dock it in the keyboard and turn the tablet on while it's sitting in the keyboard. Doing this, the tablet will turn on and go into Home screen normally. But be careful, if you take it out and put it back on the keyboard a few times, sooner or later the default "Dock" screen will show up, and you are locked out of the access to the Home button again! We hope that this is a glitch that Samsung will fix with a software update.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Full Size Keyboard Dock is a great solution for those who want a multimedia dock for charging/syncing and movie watching combined with a keyboard. It comes with an extra audio out jack and pass through power and data port. The keyboard has an excellent Android keys that make controlling the tablet easy and fast. The directional keys work in most apps and screens, and can also function as Page Up/Down, Home and End keys. The keyboard has a standard layout, won?t need much time to get used to. The key's surface feels nice, though the key travel could be better. The biggest concern we have for this keyboard is that dreaded "Dock" screen where you have no direct access to Home or App screen. It's a wrong thing to put that as the default screen since users don't usually buy a keyboard as a night clock stand.