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"Paired with a keyboard, the Nexus 7 could easily serve as a mobile work solution just as the iPad can."

I'd really like to believe this (and thus justify getting one), but I can't picture it. How would one prop up the screen? What keyboards are available and are they any good?

I feel like Apple has reached a local maximum with the iPad as a consumption-oriented device and I'm just waiting to see who delivers the first tablet geared towards getting things done. MS appears to be promising this with Surface, but it remains to be seen how successful they are.

To anyone on HN who has used an Android tablet for productivity purposes (writing, coding, etc), how has it gone?

I'm writing this with my 10.1 Android tablet and a bluetooth keyboard. As I do with most of my HN posts. I would code with these if there were a good IDE for Android. That's one of my dreams. I'm not sure what you mean with "prop up the screen"? You just pair the keyboard via bluetooth once, then it automatically works if you turn it on. You just touch on a text input and start typing. I have a Motorola laptop sized android specific keyboard that has android specific keys (home, search, back etc). But any PC bluetooth keyboard works. There's literally thousands of them, any regular desktop keyboard works. Most of the limitation comes from apps, there aren't enough productivity apps for most people's need. (I guess a blogger wouldn't mind, but as a developer, I need more than just android. But the keyboard is great vs having just the touch screen. I can't seriously write a whole paragraph with just touch.

A keyboard is a must have for anyone with a tablet imho. But maybe it's just me, I can't take touch keyboards seriously. How the hell do you guys live without arrow keys?

Thanks for the reply. By "prop up the screen" I actually meant angling the device itself like a laptop. I understand the iPad's case allows this and the upcoming Surface provides a kickstand.

With regard to IDEs, I'm not really familiar with Android and I naively assumed that one would readily be able to install native Linux apps like vim, but Googling around I discovered this is not trivial. That's a shame.

Terminal IDE (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.spartacusr...) goes a long way towards making Android a good dev environment, although I personally prefer using Complete Linux Installer to automate a chrooted Ubuntu install (needs root though, obviously) (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zpwebsites...).

I just use a case I bought from amazon to angle my tablet for typing. It works pretty good.

The big problem of using Android for serious work is mostly software, not hardware. You can use pretty much any great keyboard you'd want. But the software is still lacking some features you'd expect from a linux desktop. For example, you can't just ctrl-z at every app. It's kind of inconsistent, some apps don't support keyboards at all. I stopped using Firefox on android because it sucks with a keyboard. If you really, really want to do serious work on a tablet, I'd dual boot linux like others recommended.

So in the hardware side, tablets are already pretty good for working. But android still lacks a bit. But if you already own an Android tablet, then buying a keyboard is a must-have imo. It will enable to do thinks you only dreamed of before.

If "a mini-laptop with better battery life" is what you are after, then you should look at an Asus Transformer - it is perfect for that usecase.

If you think you'll use the keyboard occasionally, then choose a tablet stand that suits your style, from EBay or http://s.dealextreme.com/search/tablet+stand

> A keyboard is a must have for anyone with a tablet imho

That is called a laptop

Seems like we've gone an awfully long way in the evolution of tablets just to arrive at another sort of laptop. But of course the comparison isn't totally fair. I can't take the screen off my actual laptop, and the hardware in my laptop annihilates any existing tablet.

AIDE allows coding on Android: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aide.ui

Although, of course, being as full featured as Eclipse is a long way off, I imagine.

You can run Eclipse in headless mode and “just” add Android/touch friendly UI on top. No idea if porting Eclipse to Android’s sandbox is actually feasible, but you could certainly run it on desktop/home server over a low-latency network.

Do you know if CTRL and ALT work on bluetooth keyboards? My perfect IDE is only a SSH session away but I've heard that CTRL and ALT are not supported in Android and without those EMACS is pretty useless.

I use Better Terminal Emulator on my Galaxy Nexus and it has support to map CRTL and ALT to several different keys. You can also map the arrows, which is handy if you are using it on the phone with no physical keyboard.

CTRL works fine on my Transformer keyboard - I use it in SSH all the time.

I'm not an EMACS user, so I can't comment on ALT.

Which SSH app are you using? I find I have to tap for ctrl in connectbot, it drives me mad.

Which keyboard are you using?

If a company really wants to get serious about a tablet designed for productivity, they will make one with an 11.6" or a 12.1" screen. 11.6" seems to be the smallest device size that you can attach a usable keyboard to.

I understand that no one wants to risk making larger tablet, out of a fear that it will be too heavy, but each generation has brought us thinner, lighter devices. I'd gladly take an 11.6" screen over the current standard of 9-10 even if it added an extra couple of ounces.

I have an Asus Transformer TF101, with a 10" screen. I can type at ~65 WPM on it. That's about 10 WPM slower than on a desktop keyboard. As far as I am concerned, that is perfectly usable.

Having said that, at least one Android maker has built one with a 13" screen.

I've tried out the TF101 and the newer Prime at Best Buy, I also owned one of the earlier Asus Netbooks the EEE PC 901. I've also used a couple of iPad keyboard cases.

My hands are too wide to set all of my fingers on the home row in a natural typing position, so I was forced to look at the keyboard and to use a hybrid-touch / hunt and peck method on all of these devices. For this reason, I personally don't find them usable. I don't think my hands are freakishly large, so I think that many other people would have this same issue.

I looked around for the 13" tablet. I had never heard of it before but apparently it's a Toshiba.


There are some applications that a much bigger form factor would be appropriate. Even a 15" or 17" would be good, with the understanding it is not a walk-and-use device.

My dream Apple tablet would use the iSlate trademark for 20" tablet (3x4) with optional tools that communicate with the iSlate. Something like a fake airbrush that acts like a real airbrush in paint programs. Not going to happen, but it would be an amazing canvas.

There are some pretty nice case/keyboard combos for iPad. I see no reason why they can't also be made for the Nexus 7.

I'm sure wireless keyboard makers cant wait to make it into the 'people who buy hardware sold without profit' market. ;)

There are pleny of decent bluethooth keyboards that should work with any tablets out there. http://www.rapoo.com/showdetails.aspx?P_No=E6300 for example

>I'm just waiting to see who delivers the first tablet geared towards getting things done.

This sounds like the domain of ultrabooks. With a tablet, you can't use the huge ecosystem of PC software. You can't run VMs. Peripherals aren't as well-supported.

The main advantage of a tablet over an ultrabook is that you can use it standing up. But if you're getting things done, it's probably going to be sitting down.

Disclaimer: I am a huge fan of tiny laptops. I got the 11" Air when it first came out and never looked back.

I write on my ASUS transformer. It's not quite as nice as a real computer - I'd never choose to write on it at home - but it's good enough; I did a full nanowrimo on it.

Plugged in a physical keyboard in mine, then unplugged it when I realized there was no way to make the tablet use the Colemak keyboard layout for it.

I use the compact TypeMatrix USB keyboard which can switch to hardware Colemak using a hot key. When I plug it into my Android tablet I can type Colemak with no issues. The keyboard was an ideal size for taking on the plane yet full featured enough that it is my main desktop keyboard.

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