Anyone interested in buying a tablet this year will be asking themselves the same question before they purchase one: what exactly am I going to do with it? While tablets are primarily consumption devices, excellent for web browsing and multimedia, the similarities to computers has many wondering if a device like this could replace their much heavier laptops.
Attaching a physical keyboard will go a long way to bridging the gap between a device you consume with and a device you can create on.
Samsung's Galaxy Tab Keyboard Dock, henceforth to be known only as "the Dock", is better than your average Bluetooth keyboard with a range of dedicated Android-specific buttons in its 84-key layout. The top row is allocated entirely to these commands, with the standard Home, Back, Search and Menu Android navigation buttons featuring alongside brightness and media controls.
The keyboard itself is well designed, with a sturdy plastic construction and decent key spacing in its island or chiclet keyboard design. The Dock feels solid and holds the tablet securely enough when on a flat surface, though we would always recommend disconnecting the tablet when you move from your desk. It's also a shame that the plastic dock mount can't retract or fold to create a flat surface for when you're travelling. It feels strong, but it would be a tragedy if it snapped off in a laptop bag en route to an important meeting.
The dock also features two external ports; a 3.5mm line out socket for connecting to external speakers or headphones and a 30-pin port for connecting the Tab's proprietary charger for power or for syncing with your PC.
But what is it like to type on this keyboard? We've had a chance to use the Dock under a number of circumstances now and we've been quite impressed. Typing long-form documents, like this review for example, is easy enough and comparable to using a netbook keyboard. Even for short note-taking we've found it's been worth grabbing the Dock out of our bag and mounting the Tab rather than using the on-screen keyboard.