Easy to type on Tablet
I have decided that purchasing a tablet might be a nice idea. Since the market is really big and I don't know much, here I am asking.
What tablet in a reasonable price range could you recommend if these are the tasks I'd like to do on it:
- Type a lot, long articles in various places - standing, sitting, in bus, in McDonald, in cold, in gloves - yet at the same time I do not wish to have an external keyboard, so a touch one which is pretty accurate is a must. I use a netbook right now, and most of the time it is very uncomfortable to keep it on your lap while riding a bus.
- I'd love it would be possible to type while holding it in your both hands (phone style, type with your thumbs) and/or with one hand (one hand holds it, the other types)
- Some simple image editing capabilities, which would be: cropping, rotating, rescaling images and saving them as JPG or PNG
- Should support Dropbox
- Ability to connect via wifi
- Code editor with monospaced font and simple code colouring (no fancy stuff nor compilers, just code colouring)
- Flash Player or ability to install and play Adobe AIR apps would be a nice bonus (but not requirement)
- Some games, mostly low-end logical ones
As for the price range, I can't really say much because prices in my country usually vary very much from other countries - one thing sure, iPad 2 is too expensive for me.
Could you please recommend something?
12-15-2011 08:22 AM
The problem with typing in the cold with gloves on is that most of the "better" tablets and phones today (iPad, iPhone, Androids) have capacitive touchscreens, which means it requires the touch of your skin to break the electric field to register the presence of your finger, which won't work if you have gloves on. Now there are gloves that are designed for touchscreens, and they usually have a little metal nub on typically the index finger, but this means you will be typing with two fingers, which will definitely be slower than touch typing and may become tiring if you are writing a novel.
In order to have a touchscreen that will work with you wearing any plain ole glove, you will need a resistive touchscreen, and those are generally not as good. The touchscreen operates by the pressure of your finger pushing the screen.
Any tablet will have WiFi as a standard capability. It is the more expensive models that add cellular connection capabilities to it.
The remainder of your requirements can all be met by installing available apps. However, one thing to bear in mind that the really cheap Chinese tablets, while the prices are good, are also very limited as to having "full Android functionality". This generally means that you do not have the Android Market app store, and have a proprietary one which will not have the wide range of apps available that you would have with Google's app store. You can root the tablet (similar to jail breaking an iPhone) and add the Android Market, but this does require additional work on your part. If you just want it to work out of the box and don't want to mess around with rooting it to make it work the way it should, then you are looking at something like the Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Samsung, Motorola lines of tablets. They pretty much all have the Honeycomb (Android 3.0) operating system and Tegra 2 dual core processors. Excluding the models that have cellular connection capabilities, you can be looking at spending anywhere from USD 300-500, depending on how much internal memory you want.
Unfortunately for you, prices on electronics in Europe is generally pretty expensive. They can be typically about 25-50% higher than prices on comparable items in the US, taking into consideration the currency exchange rate. So if you see a tablet priced at USD 400 here, it could be selling for anywhere from EUR 400-500 there. If you want a general gauge to compare US prices to prices in Poland, if you look at the Polish price of the cheapest iPad 2 (WiFi only, 16 GB), that model goes for about USD 450 here.
What about the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer with Keyboard dock? You might be able to find a deal on that, they've had some pretty good sales lately (would almost feel bad buying them at some of the latest prices )
Awaiting the Transformer Prime.
Walkop: Asus Transformer looks really nice, but I specifically don't want external keyboard .
Jseah: Thanks! That's a really informative post. Let's drop the idea to use the tablet in gloves then. I am also not planning to get a Chinese crap.
Now then, let's concentrate on the accessibility things - can you recommend tablets which have a well responsive touch keyboard, you can thumb-type on them (like on your typical phone, holding it in both hands) and are generally comfortable to type on them? Actually, a great addition would be the ability to hold it one hand and type, but this would most likely result in it being really smart or not a tablet at all, thus I don't think it is going to work.
If you want a tab that is super light and super thin, your best bet would be Apple. Where Apple excels is in the design of their product. If you want an Android tablet that looks the most like the iPad, then it is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (this is why Apple sued Samsung). That said, I have three different tablets at home, the Asus Transformer XF101, the Toshiba Thrive, and the Acer Iconia A500. From the hardware side, all three are identical. They all have the Tegra 2 dual core processor, they all run Android Honeycomb 3.2.1 (the latest and last version of Honeycomb, soon to be replaced by Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0). Of the three, the thinnest would have to be the Transformer. The edges are also tapered to make the tablet appear even thinner as well, the same design cue that the iPad and the Galaxy Tab uses. The thickest of the three is the Toshiba Thrive, and that is also because it has full size ports and has a replaceable battery. Bear in mind that if you are constantly using these tablets, you can expect the battery to last you anywhere from 6 to 9 hours. One plus is when you are not using it, the tablet disconnects from WiFi and goes to sleep, so it uses very little battery. I use the tablet about maybe 2 hours a day and I can literally go 3 or 4 days before I have to plug it back in to recharge it. These three tablets all have equally responsive touch screens, although if you are clicking really fast (opening apps, etc.) there is the occasional lag as the processor tries to keep up with what you are doing. I have not noticed any lag when typing at all though, as typing is not really that processor intensive.
One big advantage that Android has over iOS is that if you are not happy with the standard virtual keyboard, you can try others. As for other keyboards, you can search online and see screenshots of what each keyboard looks like. On my Android phones, my favorite keyboard is Swiftkey X. It has an excellent predictive engine and as it learns your typing habits, it does a really good job of guessing the next word you may want to type. On my tablets, I installed Thumb Keyboard. Thumb Keyboard was designed for thumb typing (hence the name). They basically took the standard QWERTY keyboard, split it down the middle, and put the cursor/number keys in the center. It is very easy to type holding the tablet in your hands and just using your thumbs (although with a 10 inch tablet in landscape mode, you need really long thumbs to reach the number keys). Another popular keyboard is Swype, which instead of typing the word out, you use your finger to trace from one letter to the next to spell out the word. FWIW, my daughter likes the standard keyboard, as when the tablet is in landscape mode, the size of the keyboard (and keys) are perfectly suited for her to put the tablet on her lap and type as she would type on a computer.
Holding the tablet in one hand and typing using the fingers of that same hand is a bit difficult, considering
1. the size of the tablet itself makes reaching all the keys a bit difficult, unless you have the hands and long fingers of a gorilla
2. the tablets can be a bit heavy to hold securely in one hand.
Personally, I prefer the Asus Transformer (and others agree as well as one magazine awarded it their "Best Tablet" award, even considering that the iPad 2 was released the same year, and their "Best Netbook" award, when you consider having the hardware keyboard attached).
Last edited by jseah; 12-15-2011 at 01:32 PM.
Jseah: Superb, thank you again for informative post .
I'd have one more question then, this time about your recommendation about a specific model. As I said I am not well-versed in the tablets world. Both Samsung Galaxy Tab and EEE Transformer are in acceptable price range, but are there any other models you could recommend in this price range/cheaper? I will then look them up and read some reviews.
Your pricing over there may vary, but here in the US, they are all priced pretty close to one another (within USD 50 of each other). If you choose from either of the 5 brands (Samsung, Motorola, Asus, Acer, or Toshiba) I don't think you can go wrong. Your best bet would be if there is a store near you that stocks any or all of these, go there to try them out and see the difference. At this point it really comes down to personal preference. Being able to play with each one, you will also notice the slight variations each manufacturer will make to the OS, as each with customize the interface slightly. In my opinion, if the prices were identical for all the tablets and I had to choose, it would be a toss up between the Acer and the Samsung. Samsung has been in the Android game a bit longer (the Transformer is Acer's first Android product while Samsung has been making Android phones for several years now). That said, Samsung is also notoriously slow in putting out software updates, while Acer has already hinted that Ice Cream Sandwich will be rolled out come early January. The Acer also feels better built as it uses more metal in their construction versus the plastic used by Samsung. But that also comes at the price of added weight.