Tapping out text on a virtual keyboard is as unnatural as painting with your feet. And since you can't hold your tablet as easily as a smart phone, even the one-handed hunt-and-peck approach isn't always an option. This issue isn't unique to Android tablets -- it happens with any tablet sharing the same form factor. Luckily, all it takes to resolve this issue is changing out the keyboard. Here are a few of your best options.
Note: You can read the full post in our Five Apps blog.
Photo: Copyright © iStockphoto.com/Bluberries
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for Techrepublic and Linux.com. As an avid promoter/user of the Linux OS, Jack tries to convert as many users to open source as possible. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux (a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment). When Jack isn't writing about Linux he is hard at work on his other writing career -- writing about zombies, various killers, super heroes, and just about everything else he can manipulate between the folds of reality. You can find Jack's books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Outnumbered in his house one male to two females and three humans to six felines, Jack maintains his sanity by riding his mountain bike and working on his next books. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website Get Jack'd.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!