Samsung TabPro S Interstate Roadtrip: Keyboard Worrier

As you read this, I’ll be on a plane en route to Melbourne for the first leg of my Samsung TabPro S Interstate Roadtrip Challenge. For those who missed yesterday’s explainer, I’m visiting some of Australia’s most interesting tech companies in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane while simultaneously managing the day-to-day running of the site — all on Samsung’s 2-in-1 laptop. But first, here are my impressions of the included keyboard.

Image: Supplied

Samsung is pitching the Galaxy TabPro S towards business travellers, mobile workers and students on the go. Boasting an ultra-light 6.3mm-thick design, a 12-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED touchscreen, a 128GB solid state drive, 4GB RAM, a 6th Generation Intel Core m3 CPU and up to 10 hours battery life running on Windows 10, it certainly fits the bill on paper, but how does it stack up in reality?

To find out, I’ll be running the site from the road as I travel between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane while touring the workplaces of different startups. [Full disclosure: As with our previous Note 4 Roadtrip Challenge, Samsung is sponsoring this series under the agreement that we be completely honest with our feedback.]

Personally, I’ve never been fully sold on the concept of ultra-portable 2-in-1 laptops. I’ve always preferred big, chunky notebooks for their extra screen real estate, extra grunt beneath the hood and roomy, full-size keyboards. As a journalist, this last factor is especially important as it means I can effortlessly smash out stories without worrying about typos caused by cramped keyboard layouts.

With that said, lugging these bad boys around can be a real nuisance; especially during the daily public commute. This challenge will therefore provide my first extended, in-depth taste of the form factor.

One of the Galaxy TabPro S’s main claims to fame is its “full size” detachable keyboard which connects to the tablet’s base via a range of magnetic clips. However, with the keyboard measuring a scant 12 inches across, I initially had reservation about the size of each key. Would the reduced surface area cause my fingers to continually slip up?

As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. While the keyboard’s footprint is smaller than a full-size laptop, it makes brilliant use of the surface area to maximise the size of the keys. As you can see in the below photo, the keys are actually slightly fatter than my 15.6 inch laptop. (The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is to the right, with my laptop on the left.)

In other words, you don’t need to vary your typing or get used to a tinier keyboard. Hurrah! The only downside is that the keyboard sits much closer to the touch screen compared to a larger laptop — so beware of stray finger swipes during energetic typing.

The keys have an audible click to them which is just loud enough to be satisfying without annoying other train passengers in the quiet carriage. Meanwhile, the trackpad is large and tactile enough to serve as a mouse substitute in all but the most finicky of tasks. (If you require extra precision, you’re going to need a USB adaptor, sold separately.)

Like any 2-in-1 worth its salt, the Samsung TabPro S’s keyboard doubles as a protective book cover while out and about. The back is finished in springy faux leather which should help to absorb accidental knocks. The cover also includes an adjustable kickstand with two viewing angles, similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro. The difference is that you need to have the keyboard attached to use the stand.

All in all, the Samsung TabPro S’s keyboard is pretty hard to fault: it’s protective, great for typing and doubles as a stand. While not quite as accomplished as the Surface Pro’s Type Cover, it does a great job and is included with the tablet instead of being sold separately. So far, so good.

Tomorrow, I’ll be detailing my experiences with the Samsung TabPro S in the air before visiting Xero’s Melbourne headquarters. See you then!

Lifehacker’s TabPro S Roadtrip Challenge series is sponsored by Samsung.

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