Tablets and Keyboards
I am desperately seeking suggestions or pointers on a tablet, case, and keyboard combination.
- Linux or Android device, if the latter, MUST run LineageOS (the legacy of CyanogenMod).
- A case which will fold both flat (for tablet) and self-supporting (for lappable "laptop") use.
- A full keyboard, including alpha, number, function, and escape keys.
- Extensible storage -- 128 MB MicroSD minimum, preferably formattable in a non-VFAT filesystem (e.g., ext4, or other).
I've been using a Samsung Tab A (model SM-T550) and Logitech Type-S keyboard case. I strongly discourage use of either.
The Tab A is locked down hard, and is at best poorly-supported for rooting or re-imaging.
The Type S has a fantastic form-factor, but the keyboard as falling apart from the start, and Logitech have an abysmal warranty-support programme. I'm now losing use of several additional keys, including 'w' (which I'm pasting in from elsewhere, the '3' and hashtag keys (I can ... sometimes ... get them to print after numerous presses). Additionally, there are several "special" keys with exceptionally poor positioning.
On why a tablet
Reading books and papers. Simply put: the tablet form-factor (portrait mode) blows away laptop or desktop systems for reading materials. This compensates for the systems many, many, many other faults. A larger device (9-12") is preferred. At 9", the Tab A is pretty much just large enough to comfortably read most (though not quite all) formatted printed material.
The availability of Termux, or other terminal-based environments (including apparently full Debian installs) means that a significant set of desktop, or at least console, Linux tools are available. This is tremendously useful, and in fact, is more useful than the rest of the Android -ecosystem- surveillance-capitalism system combined.
(This is also the chief reason Apple's iOS is not an acceptable substitute, thanks for asking.)
The size, weight, and battery life are also major winning factors. In theory the ability to swap out keyboards as they fail should be as well, though in practice, the lack of standards for case fittings and keyboards has largely nixed this.
I've looked at e-ink devices, though most seem less well-suited. Android's Kindle is right out. Kobo have some interesting larger devices, and there may be other ROMable book-readers. Something with a reader, good content-management systems (another major pain point), and a commandline/console environment, plus web access, might work.
It is possible that I may be able to root and re-ROM the Tab A. In which case, replacing the tablet itself need not happen.
Cases: should convert without thought
The feature of the Type S case I appreciate most is that it literally takes less than a second to go from laptop-keyboard mode to tablet. Pick up and rotate tablet. (The Bluetooth connection isn't always quite so quick, but even that is usually reliable). I cannot overemphasise the usefulness of this -- going from reading something to writing at the keyboard in an instant. This is where systems with free-floating, clamshell, or other keyboards are not nearly as useful. Logitech have a slotted keyboard and a well-reviewed K380 keyboard, but neither seem to fit into a case or have an accompanying case.
(I'm ... pretty disappointed generally with the whole mobile-device-accessories world. It's badly wanting for standardisation. For the most part, cases are specifically paired with devices, to the point that one product viewed noted that it was matched to only a specific variant of the Samsung Tab A 9.7" tablet. Sigh.)
There's a Logitech Universal Folio with keyboard for 9-10 inch tablets (pictured below), though it is poorly reviewed. Given past history, I'm not inclined to give Logitech further business. Though it looks as if it might work, and would also fit a likely future tablet. The mounting mechanism looks distinctly bulky though, and -possibly- probably fragile.
So, this is my cry to the void....