According to This Earlier Posting, an Android-based tablet which I’ve owned for several years, is dying. I have now received my replacement for it, in the form of a “Samsung Galaxy Tab S6″, and the version of that tablet which I have, is not the ‘Lite’ version.
Beyond that, I have read that many other customers were having problems, attaching the (dedicated, Samsung-provided) Keyboard / Case, for which reason I did not buy that. Instead, to go with that tablet, I have purchased the “Feitenn Galaxy Tab S6 Keyboard / Case“. One fact which must be expected, however, from this third-party Keyboard, is that it will connect to the Tab S6 – electronically at least – the same way any Bluetooth Keyboard would connect, and in so doing, it will also fail to trigger the ‘Samsung DeX mode’, by which that brand of tablet can behave more, the way a regular desktop or laptop would behave. (:1)
For the moment, the new tablet will just continue to behave, as an Android tablet. Yet, Samsung left in the possibility of their famous Multi-View feature, which is available as long as ‘DeX mode’ is not.
As for the question of, whether that amounts to a positive experience, only time will tell.
What I do know is the fact that, the Feitenn Keyboard / Case attaches mechanically, while the dedicated case from Samsung would have attached partially by way of suction, and partially, magnetically.
Additionally, I benefit from the “Samsung S-Pen” – supplied with the tablet – that attaches to the outside of the case magnetically, and that charges wirelessly, as long as it has been attached, oriented correctly. With the Feitenn Case, that S-Pen also receives protection from ‘just falling loose’, while the case is fully closed. (:2) The flap of the Feitenn Case has magnets to hold it closed against the back of the tablet, as well as, to signal to the tablet to go into standby.
(Updated 7/01/2020, 8h40… )
(As of 6/25/2020: )
(Samsung DeX) Actually, I expect this to be less of an issue, as ‘Samsung DeX mode’ can be activated using one of the Notification Icons, from the upper-right-hand corner of the display. However, I have not yet test-driven ‘DeX mode’.
AFAICT, the charging behaviour of the S-Pen is as follows. When the pen is pulled from the tablet’s magnetically-enhanced groove, and while ‘Air Actions’ are enabled, an inconspicuous Notification Icon in the shape of a pen appears solidly, to indicate that the Air Actions mode is active. When the pen is reattached, first, a very conspicuous widget displays and then disappears again quickly, which means nothing as far as I can tell, other than to signal to the user that the pen has begun recharging. But secondly, that inconspicuous icon starts to animate. This icon will stop animating and vanish, when:
- The S-Pen is fully charged, Or
- The display gets turned off, Or
- The S-Pen is pulled from the tablet again, at which point the icon becomes solid again.
I have also been able to confirm by direct experimentation, that two other situations which cause the inconspicuous icon to appear, and to animate, are:
- When the user connects the USB cable to charge the tablet. Enabling ‘Daily Board’ is not required for this to happen, And
- After a reboot has taken place, not requiring any sort of system update to have taken place.
There is one fact about the Feitenn Keyboard / Case, that disappoints me a little. I find that it takes some conscious amount of effort, when closing the case, to realign the keyboard with the tablet, just so that the flap of the case will wrap around correctly, and protect the S-Pen again, which is hopefully in-position by that time.
Something else about the Feitenn Keyboard / Case arrangement is irksome…
The case is actually held to the tablet securely. However, when opened, it allows the keyboard to be ‘repositioned’ towards the user ‘freely’ – unattached – so that the user can then fold the back of the case partially, and make the bottom of the tablet sit inside one of the (inward-facing) mechanical grooves of the case, that define the possible angles at which the tablet can be propped up.
After that, the top of the keyboard is meant to line up with the bottom of the tablet, which may require yet-more adjustment by the user.
If the user is not methodical every time he unfolds this Keyboard and Case, because the back of the case folds freely, and because the bottom of the tablet is not attached to the Keyboard in any way, it is possible for the tablet to flop down, facing upwards, and with the case folded flat behind it.
- When opening, And
- When closing,
This Keyboard and Case arrangement needs to be handled with care.
BTW, The keyboard, which lifts out freely, can be used by itself, as evidenced by the fact that it has three function-key combinations, which switch it between “Windows”, “Android” and “iOS” mode. There is nothing in its design indicating specific use with the Tab S6, and the keyboard itself strikes me as a higher-quality, Bluetooth Keyboard.
What I may do, every time I unfold or open my tablet in the future, is lift the keyboard out intentionally with one hand, just so that I can prop the tablet up to the desired angle securely, and then, to place the keyboard back down, on the inside surface of the case, flush against the tablet.
Further, the inside of the Case has non-slip surfaces throughout, which grip even more firmly, due to added magnetic attraction between the Keyboard and the Case.
Also, there is an oddity about the charging behaviour, which the instruction pamphlet fails to mention, at least, in its English translation.
When the keyboard’s battery is depleted and charging, the corresponding LED blinks amber. But, once some level of charge has developed in the battery, the LED comes on in the amber colour, turns green, goes dark, and comes on in the amber colour again, cyclically. At that point, the user may not know whether the battery has received enough of a charge, to unplug the USB-C jack to the charger.
My explanation for this behaviour is the idea that:
- Constant-Voltage Charging is being used (at 5V), so that, as soon as the level of current drops below some level of current, the LED turns green, And
- The actual charging voltage is discontinued with each of these cycles…
- After the voltage is reapplied, the amount of current corresponds to a partially depleted battery again, and, drops to the amount of current signalling a charged battery, before the amber LED has been timed to go dark again. Hence, the period that the LED stays lit, is enough time to establish ‘low’, ‘charged’ current.
Therefore, once this has begun happening consistently, it’s good to disconnect the USB-C cable.
(Update 6/28/2020, 12h00: )
One report which other users have made about the Feitenn Keyboard was, that the (mouse-emulating) track-pad was “laggy”. In my own experiences, the behaviour of the mouse emulation is close to instantaneous. However, there is something about the KB, which is laggy:
- After the KB has gone into standby, pressing any key is supposed to cause it to wake up, and to reconnect to the tablet (again, via Bluetooth). If the tablet has additionally been left sleeping overnight, then this reconnection is laggy. It can take more than 10 seconds to complete. And this takes place, without the LED on the KB indicating any sort of weak battery-charge level.
OTOH, If the tablet itself has only been sleeping for an hour or so, in a curious fashion, the reconnection of the keyboard is also much faster.
For such reasons, I find myself unlocking the tablet using the on-screen keyboard, and, only after having unlocked it, typing a key on the KB, to wake up the KB and its connection to the tablet. When the Bluetooth KB is connected, the on-screen KB disappears (while having apps open, that allow the editing of documents).
I have not yet experimented with what happens, while using such apps, if I tap on the extra keyboard-icon on the screen, on the right-hand side of the navigation bar, to bring up the on-screen KB, while the USB KB is still connected. In the case of certain other tablets, doing so has sometimes caused unreliable behaviour, that was easy to recover from.
(Update 7/01/2020, 8h40: )
In case the reader might also like to try my solution, of using the Feitenn Keyboard / Case with the Tab S6, I have a word of caution.
The keyboard itself has an outer structure made of plastic, and is actually quite thin. It must contain pieces of a ferrous metal, in order for the magnets in the case to exert any attraction. Yet, because the keyboard is also quite light after having been lifted from the case, the metal content cannot be very high.
The force that I exert routinely, to lift the keyboard off the case from the bottom-right-hand corner, also exerts enough torsion on the keyboard, to cause it to twist slightly from bottom to top. In my case, the keyboard’s stiffness, which is not strong, has always restored it to being flat. Yet, I could imagine that some other users could end up with a keyboard that remains twisted. To avoid this, only gentle force should ever be applied.
Also, I have performed the experiment now, of opening an Android app that is meant to act as a document editor, of tapping on the icon on the right-hand side of the navigation bar, and to bring up the on-screen keyboard, while this external, physical keyboard is paired and connected. This did not cause any type of corruption to the settings. The on-screen keyboard then simply appeared, and worked. By tapping on the same icon a second time, I was able to deactivate the on-screen keyboard again, and continue using the Feitenn keyboard, without the slightest interference to my session or workflow.