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Tablet-with-keyboard recommendations?
device
jducoeur
I'm starting to do my own research, but let's check if anyone here has opinions:

After being away last weekend, I'm beginning to conclude that my old tablet has run its course. It's an original Motorola Xoom, the first major Android tablet, and while it was pretty decent in its day, it is just plain buckling under today's apps.

So I'm planning to get a new one, but I think I'd like to get something with a good keyboard accessory. I know those exist for iPad (Anna has long been fond of hers), and the new Windows devices seem to be all about tablet-plus-keyboard, but I don't see all that much advertised for Android. There's the ASUS Transformer, which kicked the idea off, but I have no clue whether they've kept that line nicely up-to-date, or what the competition looks like.

ETA: I'm only looking at Android tablets for this purpose. While that's not overwhelmingly set in stone, it's the OS I'm used to, and it's my preference. (Let's not get into OS wars.)

Not sure about size yet -- I'm assuming the usual 10" for now, but could imagine going as small as 8" or as large as 12". Haven't decided yet whether built-in 4G is a priority. (It would occasionally be Very Useful, but maybe not often enough to bother.)

Any suggestions for me to look at?

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I priced keyboards that come separately from Android tablets a couple of months ago, and those are a viable option.

I have this keyboard and I love it. Foldable, full size keys. Bluetooth, so I can connect it to any of my devices. I have an iPad, so don't know about Android. I have not yet had to recharge it, but I don't use it daily. It's a Windows layout (so no command key). I use it to take notes in class and it works really well for that.

Edited at 2014-06-04 01:33 pm (UTC)

What do you do with your tablet?

I mostly care about the keyboard for travel -- I'm increasingly thinking of my tablet as a laptop replacement under those circumstances. (I actually *mostly* use the tablet as a terminal in the kitchen, but don't expect to often bother with the keyboard there.) Bringing a laptop, even my little ASUS netbook, feels like a silly hassle if I already have my tablet with me. So I'm thinking about how to make that a properly viable alternative.

In practice, the number-one application is email: writing serious emails on the road is a mild hassle with an on-screen keyboard.

Number two is Querki -- while that works adequately with an on-screen keyboard, I sometimes am writing long text blocks, which again aren't great that way.

I suspect that I'm going to also wind up needing a way to SSH into the system from the tablet; I assume that that is possible, but haven't researched it yet.

So...I bought this keyboard for my iPad Mini, and it kind of ruins it as a tablet. As a tablet, I carry it places, watch stuff on it, occasionally do a bit of typing, but mostly it's a spare screen / small portable television / newspaper. It's a niche device.

With a keyboard attached, it's a crappy laptop, and I keep wishing I had brought my laptop downstairs (or upstairs or whatever). The saving grace is that I bought the type of keyboard that is easy to remove, so I can switch back and forth a little more easily than if it were in a keyboard case.

...So I guess I'm trying to figure out what _you_ would use a keyboarded tablet for that isn't better served by your actual laptop. Is your Asus that much harder to take along with you?

(As for SSH, at least for Android and iOS there are a surfeit of decent paid apps. I've settled on ServerAuditor for the time being.)

Actually, it's more that, for many applications, a tablet works *better* than the netbook does. It's better for reading mail, and in fact it's better for most web browsing. The truth is that I simply *like* an Android tablet more for the routine day-to-day stuff than I do a laptop. (And the instant-on is a *huge* deal. The difference between a one-second and 15-second boot time makes a world of difference.)

So basically, I want a tablet to carry with me, and a keyboard to mostly leave back in my room, for when I actually care about serious typing...

Ah, okay! What do you think about M'oft's two-piece tablet/laptop things?

Haven't played with them, but the form factor looks good to me. I'm focused on Android for this use (mainly because it's what I'm used to and have a good deal of investment in), but I've thought about the Windows Surface devices. I haven't ruled out the possibility that a relatively beefy one of those might be my next real "laptop", for when I want something more serious than a tablet (with a larger screen) but more portable than the desktop machine...

I like my SurfacePro and keyboard because I can run all the programs I already own and because I like drawing and the SurfacePro (1&2) have wacoms or (3) has some other digitizer that's supposed to be pretty good. It's also good for taking notes. (I have the SurfacePro 1)

My sister likes her Galaxy Note (also has a wacom digitizer) with a bluetooth keyboard, I think. She uses it for taking notes in class.

Depends what you want it for primarily.

(Deleted comment)
Heh -- fair enough. (I don't usually do anything more permanent than create a new note full of nonsense text, to try out the keyboard...)

I have a transformer 301 if you'd like to try it out this weekend when you're over.

I can't recommend the tablet I bought my wife several years ago because being from 2011, because I'm sure you want something more powerful and higher end. She wants to read ebooks, keep a shopping list, and check her email. But about six months after I bought it, she expressed a desire for a keyboard. It was an off-brand tablet, so no one was making plug and play setups specifically for it. However I found this on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004OB0EBQ/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It was cheap enough that I figured it was worth trying, and there were a lot of helpful detailed comments in the reviews and questions. It worked like a charm, and two years later she's still using it happily. This case is designed for a 7" tablet, but there are probably 10" equivalents out there if you look around. If you find a tablet that's a good fit for your needs, You can probably meet the keyboard accessory requirement with any of the standard USB portables.

I have an ASUS Transformer. It's about two years old, so I can't speak to the current generation, but here are some thoughts on mine.

A keyboard was (and is) essential to me, not just a nice-to-have. The ASUS keyboard is better than an on-screen keyboard and worse than a regular laptop keyboard -- the size and spacing are "not quite right", probably because of the size, so I'm slower with it than with a real keyboard (for the same accuracy, I mean -- I could type faster but I'd make more typos). But it's still way faster than an on-screen keyboard.

Because the keyboard can snap in, I'm not left with the problem of carrying around a disconnected peripheral (like I would be with some other external keyboard). The keyboard also serves to protect the tablet; I don't need a cover/case/etc with the keyboard in place. The downside of all this is that if I do want to just treat it as a tablet, I've got this keyboard to do...something...with. It'd be nice if the keyboard could fold completely back, but it doesn't -- it maintains basically a laptop angle.

The keyboard runs through battery a lot faster than the tablet. When the keyboard wants to be fed the tablet is usually well over 50%. So if you're mostly going to use it with the keyboard, plan for reduced "effective battery life" unless you're ready to go tablet-only or plug in for a while.


Tangent: do you know of an Android version of emacs? I found one a while back (yay!) but it seg-faults on start (boo!). That's, um, unhelpful. I have a text-editor app, but I'd rather use the text editor I'm most familiar with...

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