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Zebronics Tabmate Review: Comfortable typing anytime, anywhere

|October 29 2013 |accessories, Mobile Accessories


Tablets nowadays, are easily comparable to computers or can even replace them for several tasks, basis their utility. But, when it comes to typing long documents, then the touchscreen  is of little help. This is because the screen is smaller and we end up typing on the same screen which we use for viewing content as well. Therefore typing isn't fast enough and is prone to errors, as well. But if you  need a simple solution, a wireless keyboard can be a savior since it can connect over Bluetooth with the smartphone/ tablet and offers fast and comfortable typing. Recently, we got to test out the Zebronics Tabmate keyboard and here’s what we have to say for the device.

In the package

The package is as small and compact as it can get with only two things inside it: The keyboard and USB Cable. The USB cable is for charging the keyboard from computer.
Zebronics Tabmate 10
Design and Build Quality

The keyboard is small and sleek  by design and  it’s light-weight makes it  convenient to carry it anywhere. The Tabmate is constructed using stainless steel for strength and durability, while the keyboard comes in Black and White color. At the back, there is single slab of plastic that comprises battery, switches, micro USB port and the Bluetooth module, while it also gives a nice inclination to the keyboard. It also has two LED lights that indicate charging (orange light) and powered on state (blue light).
Zebronics Tabmate 03 Zebronics Tabmate 06


The keys of the keyboard are of same size as of a normal keyboard, apart from the smallish space bar and navigation keys. What’s more interesting is that it still manages to offer all the keys available in a full-size keyboard. The keys provide a good tactile feedback and does not require any extra effort to type.


However, that is not without some compromise. The keys have less space in between them, and thus users prone to wrong key presses. If we take a look at the keyboard closely, many of the keys are not in the position as they are in the regular keyboard. The ‘Ctrl’ and ‘Alt’ keys, for example, are together at the left side of the spacebar and they are not present at all at the right side. Similarly, the square and curly brackets, which are present along with the alphabetical keys in a keyboard are at the right side of the spacebar in Zebronics Tabmate. 

What’s very bewildering is perhaps the placement of the quotes key (‘ and “) at the left side, which are usually on the right side. Function key doubles up as several shortcuts such as Browser, Media Playback Controls, Home, etc. The arrow key serves the purpose of Pg Up, Pg Down, Home and End keys when used in combination with the 'Fn' key.
Zebronics Tabmate 07 Zebronics Tabmate 08


Pairing it up


The most confusing thing about the keyboard was the absence of user manual, so it is pretty difficult to connect the keyboard to any device. After powering it, the LED blinks for some time and then it goes away and thus one doesn’t know how to pair it for the first time. After trying some random combinations, we figured out that the keyboard can be connected by long press of the ‘F1’ key. This makes the keyboard discover-able to devices, and then the pairing it over Bluetooth is fairly simple process.
Bluetooth connectivity screen Bluetooth connectivity through smartphone



Though the name of the keyboard is Tabmate, suggesting that it is a companion to tablets. In reality, the keyboard can be connected to almost any Bluetooth device, viz. Computer and Tablets. It can also be used with Home Theater PC (HTPC) for controlling the screen remotely. Unfortunately, it was not able to connect to the Android or WP 8 based smartphones. We aren’t sure of the problem, as the keyboard was able to pair up with the smartphone, but it wasn’t working, even after trying it with multiple devices. Though, we were able to connect it with computer running Windows 8.1 OS, Android based tablets with ease.
Usage

When compared with a regular keyboard, one would obviously miss the sense of space that it gives and thus it might take some time getting used to such a smaller keyboard. However once your hands get accustomed to the keyboard, typing is fairly quick with few errors here and there.

While using the keyboard with the computer, it was good for writing, but for doing any other task which required mouse made the need of Bluetooth remote keyboard redundant. Sure, one can use keyboard shortcuts, but not everything is possible with them, moreover, keyboard shortcuts that require a combination of 2-3 keys are quite difficult. However there is no latency or delay faced while typing on the Tabmate keyboard.

With the tablet, the keyboard can be used for the applications which require input such as Gmail, Messaging, etc.

We are  impressed with the battery life of the keyboard though it does require up to 5 hours to charge. Once  charged it delivers continuous working for 60 hours approximately.
Verdict

Zebronics Tabmate is a great accessory to accompany your tablet, if you are required to type long documents frequently. It’s size is similar to a 7-inch  tablet and thus can easily be tucked away in a bag. Priced at Rs. 1100, it’s surely one of the most affordable Bluetooth keyboards available in the market today.

Pro's: Portable, Full functionality of a regular keyboard, Rechargeable battery

Con's: Keys are crammed-up, Unusual placement of a few keys
Specifications























Dimensions 206.5 x 81.7 x 7 mm
Weight 220 g
Battery Inbuilt Li-ion battery
Working voltage 3.3 V
Charging voltage 4.2V- 5.5 V
Charging current < 300 mA
Charging Time 4– 6 hours
Standby Time 500-700 hours
Working Time 72 hours
Bluetooth Version Bluetooth 3.0
Range 20 m

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