Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Keyboard Dock hands-on

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (mark 2) goes on general release in the UK tomorrow (4 August - read our review here) and along with the tablet device itself, there are several accessories hitting the stores at the same time.

One of those is the Keyboard Dock, a sturdy, reasonably weighty keypad that has a slot and connector just begging to be coupled with the new Tab. It's excellently built, has a full QWERTY key layout (naturally), but also carries some proprietary buttons to make navigation on the touchscreen device that bit easier.

For starters, there are keys for "Home" (in the shape of a house icon), "Internet" and "Mail", all of which bringing up their respective screens immediately. And accented letters are available and flagged on the dock in order to aid the typing of Franglais phrases and words; such as café.

The Tab connects via its pin socket, rather than Bluetooth, so, therefore, the dock is passive (non-powered independently). However, it also carries a port to be hooked up to your Galaxy Tab's own power/PC cable, so you can recharge the tablet as you use the keyboard.

In addition, there is a speaker line out around the rear, allowing you to hook up headphones or speakers for while you work.

The final feature is that the guide - the plastic strip that holds the Tab in place - can be removed and replaced, which suggests to us that you can upgrade to thicker, thinner, or, more likely, smaller screen-sized tablets sometime in the future.

It's not exactly a light accessory, but the Keyboard Dock and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 together weigh no more than a conventional netbook, so we'd expect it to travel with those who need to work from afar.

Certainly, I would say that it's essential for Tab 10.1 owners - specifically those with a journalistic bent - and at around £60 it won't break the bank either (just your foot if you drop it).