Tablets feel incomplete without a keyboard

Tablet Keyboards - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

You shouldn’t own a tablet without a keyboard. Let me rephrase that: Unless all you’re interested in is browsing the internet, watching movies, and playing a few games, tablets feel incomplete without a keyboard dock/cover/attachment of some sort.

Tablets are great consumption devices, but if I want to get any work done at all – at least, at a reasonable pace – I need a real keyboard. Virtual keyboards are great in many cases, but I would never want to use one to write a paper, article, or even a long email. One could argue that I’ve been spoiled by the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT and its Touch Cover, but using a virtual keyboard for more than entertainment consumption and simple responses has always frustrated me. Some work better than others – the Kindle Fire’s virtual keyboard is atrocious – but none can match a dock or cover.

Over the last few months, I’ve become accustomed to effortlessly switching between work and play modes with my Surface, due in large part to the Touch Cover. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my two other Windows 8/RT tablets, the ASUS VivoTab RT and the Acer Iconia W510. I’m supposed to receive a keyboard dock for the former device at some point – although it hasn’t arrived yet – and I’m seriously considering picking up a dock for the latter as well. While I’ve only had the Iconia W510 for a few days, I’ve found it difficult to get any real work done on the device. It works great for consumption, but it’s not nearly as versatile.

Maybe it’s just me, but using a tablet for anything other than consumption without a keyboard just doesn’t feel right.

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/Outlook.com Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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7 thoughts on “Tablets feel incomplete without a keyboard

  • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

    It’s partly because of what constitutes production for you. I have a Bluetooth keyboard, but very rarely use it. For the things I do the most with a tablet on the go, namely take notes in lectures, I much prefer handwriting with a stylus. I obviously prefer a keyboard for long emails and articles, but it would just slow me down for notes, as I very rarely take “article style” notes that just fill up line after line with text.

    Other people’s definition of production might include making music, or something else that doesn’t require a keyboard. Point being, the lack of a keyboard is limiting for some things, but the existence of a keyboard is just the much in the way for other things. That’s the beauty of tablets; strip the computer down to the only part you really need for any use, and make the rest optional :)

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      Oh, I definitely agree with you. But would you use a tablet to say, write an article?

      • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

        Like I said, I would prefer a keyboard for that. I rarely write handwritten articles (not sarcasm, I did it once!). I definitely wouldn’t do it with the screen keyboard on the iPad mini, as it’s too small. If I used Swype on my phone, I could spit out a short one, but nothing major. Swype’s speech recognition is also not half bad, so if you’re in a quiet place and make sure to enunciate, it’s actually a usable method though. If my on-the-go work meant massive emails and articles though, oh sure, I’d have a keyboard with me all the time!

  • Avatar of HildyJ

    For Win8RT (and phone OSs), I agree with you. However, I’ve been using the HP Slate with Win7 for two years and I rarely use a keyboard. The key is the dual digitizer. With a Wacom or nTrig stylus, the Windows Tablet Input Panel (TIP), and Windows handwriting recognition, I’m good for multi-page memos.

    Admittedly, for longer documents I prefer a full sized keyboard. But I also want a big track ball, a core i5, and two monitors so I do big work at my desk.

  • I must be the oddball (though I always am!) but I’ve been using my iPad as my full computing device for over a year now (and I’m a computer consultant!) and shudder at the idea of using a keyboard with it. Granted, I have major mobility impairments, so I actually type with a special head-stick, one key at a time, but I’ve been working on computers for 25+ years and have never been as productive as the last year. Yes, I’ve even typed out articles on it.

    Why am I so against keyboards on tablets? Because there’s a name for those…netbooks…and they are now dead. Honestly, I love the ability to just grab my iPad in the middle of my work and just go. I don’t need anything else and can get more done because I can just continue when I have a spare moment or two anywhere anytime. It is just a beautiful thing to be so productive in so many places.

    So, I think it feels wrong TO HAVE a keyboard with my tablet. But, I digest, er, digress…


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