October 7, 2012

New Tablets Offer Keyboards, Office, Other Tools for Writers

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveals
Surface,the new family of PCs for
The tablet computers about to hit the market are offering essential tools for writers.

One of the most basic is a keyboard.

However slick the iPad's virtual keyboard looks, it can't replace a separate keyboard leaving the screen's entire real estate for text. That makes add-on keyboards the most-needed accessory for the iPad.

More important, most virtual keyboards offer no arrow keys, which are essential for navigating around documents. Writing without arrow keys is harder than writing long-hand; making changes becomes more difficult than crossing out words and writing above the line.

And looking for ways to beat Apple’s dominant iPad, other manufacturers are adding keyboards and business-friendly features to their new tablets.

Microsoft has unveiled its Surface, which is aimed also at businesses and could make an interesting product for writers.

Its case doubles as a keyboard, and while its Windows 8 operating system will not offer the countless apps available for Apple and Android devices, the Surface will be able to use Microsoft Office software such as Word and Excel.

Hewlett-Packard also is taking the tablet concept into new directions. The company recently introduced the Envy X2 hybrid laptop, whose screen detaches to become a tablet.

It is also introducing the HP ElitePad, a 10.1-inch Windows 8 device designed to work with an optional case that offers a keyboard, an extra battery pack and a docking port.

For its part, Apple has certainly recognized the huge potential of the business and enterprise market for the iPad. Tablets will without doubt change the way business is done, replacing clipboards, folders and legal pads. And the company has been pushing to better address business use.

But sleek, an adjective that well describes the iPad, is not as impressive in an office setting as efficient, and typing in data with one finger on a virtual keyboard just isn't efficient.

Moreover, sleek is expensive. The iPad's beauty can easily sell it to an individual buyer, but if you're buying tablets for an entire company, suddenly the iPad is more expensive than it is sleek.

And a bottom line is that companies around the world already function on Microsoft’s dominant Office suite of office-productivity software and everyday tasks. The easy transition from PC to tablet that the Surface offers should be a plus for Microsoft.

It's funny how less unobjectionable that statement sounds today, in a world with Apple and Google and Android, than it would have sounded five or ten years ago, when Microsoft had no serious challengers.

Either way, competition for Apple’s iPad will mean more choices and more tools for writers. And judging from Apple’s performance in the past years, the company will match—or better—most of what the competition comes up with.

By John Sailors

(C) 2012, by Story Crest Press.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft.
Story Crest


  1. I'm an Android Fan so for all you Apple Fan's I'm not hating but I haven't found any iPads for under $100 unless they're used and scratched up http://techcompact.com/best-tablets-under-100-dollars/