Solutions to the Tablet Keyboard Conundrum: Part One

Tablets’ lightness and compactness make them great portable computers. Whether you’re writing the next Great American Novel, composing a new indie jam, or training to become the Angry Birds World Champion, a tablet can be a solid alternative to lugging around a laptop when you want to work on the go.

Unfortunately, for all its functionality, the tablet has one glaring deficiency: its keyboard — or rather, lack thereof. If you’re going to be doing any serious writing on a tablet, you’re likely to find typing on the flat, lifeless, cramped onscreen keyboard a real chore. There’s just something utterly unsatisfying about tapping away at an unyielding piece of glass — and the small, squished keys make it easier to make mistakes and harder to correct them. Personally, I even find typing on my phone easier than on my tablet.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea of using your tablet as a writing tool. It just means that until tablet manufacturers come up with a better solution, you’ll just have to get a little creative. Here are two very basic solutions you can try first. In Part Two of this article, we’ll discuss some more expensive and involved options.

Adjust Your Typing Style

If you don’t want to bother with an external keyboard or an app, you can always just make a few changes to the way you use your keyboard in order to improve your typing experience at least a little bit.

First off, turn your tablet sideways and turn on screen lock to ensure your keyboard won’t be flipping all over the place while you’re trying to type. Next, try propping it on something so it’s on an angle. You may already have a case that makes this part even easier.

Finally, don’t type as you would on a regular computer. Autocorrect is there for a reason, and using it will make your tablet typing experience go much more smoothly. Forget everything you know about capitalizing words at the beginning of a sentence (and certain well-known proper nouns as well) and let autocorrect handle it. If your keyboard comes with an autocorrect feature that shows various options as you’re typing a word, learning to click the correct word when it appears rather than finishing typing it can save you time as well.

Swype

This is a good option if you’re typing things that aren’t too long: Facebook statuses or emails, for example. Swype is an app that lets you drag your finger or stylus around the keyboard, stopping briefly on each letter you want to be part of the word. Because it allows for smooth, continuous motion, it’s way faster than the “hunt and peck” method of typing — though, at around 40 words a minute, it’s still not ideal for typing that’s longer or more involved.