Hardware

Top alternative keyboards for your Android tablet

SwiftKey Tablet X Free

SwiftKey Tablet X Free is quite an amazing keyboard replacement. It would top the list if the keys were a tiny bit larger. As it is, they tend to get in the way of larger fingers, causing accidental mistypings.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

8 comments
bratwizard
bratwizard

I think the issue is more nuanced-- for the personal form-factor workstation device, there are times when its handy to have a keyboard, such as when you need to crank out some email; a document of some kind; do a spreadsheet; or other "sit down in front of the computer" type application. And there are times when its very nice to *not* have a keyboard, such as when you just want to download a manual, or a report to read; or to have something to quickly refer to in a meeting; or to help keep up with to-do's, notes, or other lightweight "personal coordination" activities. For me, I like either the "Transformer" approach, such as the Asus Transformer series-- the only big issue is what do you do with the keyboard when you're using it as a tablet? Do you leave it at home? (Then you can't use it if you need it!) Do you lug it with you? (Where do you stash it? And how awkward is that?) Or alternately, a "clam-shell / double-touchscreen" design. I am not aware of any device like this on the market. But this has always been my own personal idea of what would work out best. In fact, ideally, the device would even have as many as four touchscreens, so as to make every surface capable of being used interactively. But with at least two, on the inside, then you could open it up like a book, or turn it sideways and one could become a keyboard / user input interface, etc. If you did have a third screen, say on the front of the device when it was closed, that would be a handy "tablet-like" interface for when a keyboard or more advanced input method wasn't required. Having a fourth screen just "rounds it out"-- why not? Or perhaps instead, just have a two-screen, clamshell device that can fold either way, in or out, and perhaps achieve the same effective range of uses. Anyway, that's my take on the issue. John

el.baby
el.baby

Is it possible that TechRepublic's galleries have the worst possible web experience? How come that everytime I click to see another picture every silly bit, icon and character that is identical througout the gallery has to be redrawn before the new image is loaded?

da philster
da philster

So holding a tablet becomes cumbersome. Entering data without a real keyboard is finicky. Solution: get a tablet stand and attach a real keyboard.... Simple. Simpler still ..... why not just use a laptop. Did I miss something along the way? Sometimes, progress is a step backwards.

apotheon
apotheon

My preference is for the convertible tablet laptop, as demonstrated by ThinkPad X-series convertible tablets: http://www.small-laptops.com/images/l/lenovo-thinkpad-x61-tablet.jpg It's much better than having to figure out what to do with the keyboard when you've detached it from the tablet. I have an X-series convertible tablet ThinkPad, and I almost always use it as a laptop, but when tablet functionality is what I need, I have the option.

apotheon
apotheon

Most galleries would be better as articles with bullet lists and thumbnails that could be clicked to open larger images, anyway -- and the images are sometimes contrived nonsense that aren't necessary (or particularly desirable) anyway, though in this particular case I can see the images being an important part of the whole.

bratwizard
bratwizard

I have to agree with you on that! Definitely a pain to wade through.

apotheon
apotheon

I'm engaged in an ongoing disagreement with another TR contributor, Justin James, about his predictions that tablets and smartphones are going to replace laptops and desktops as the primary way most people use computers (even at work). I can't imagine being that limited in my computer's capabilities and interface by choice. Sure, I have a smartphone, but I would much prefer my laptop even for simple stuff like visiting TR over a smartphone attached to peripherals and a bigger monitor.

paulfx1
paulfx1

All a tablet is is a status symbol. Don't bend over backwards actually using it for anything useful. We've other devices for that. Use it just like I saw in a comedy skit, hold your iPad up to your ear while you're flashing down a busy sidewalk. You're cool!