Fifth in a Series
On a tablet, touch is of course the main method of navigating but what if you need to type information. All tablets provide a means to do it on-screen without having to hook up an external keyboard. There are many ways to design them, but generally all based on the QWERTY system. This view will look at the default keyboards, not any possible add-ons.
The keyboards are shown landscape but can be used in portrait mode as well on both tablets. It does change the amount of room available for some things and will be noted where important.
The default view provides your typical keyboard layout with additional special keys. Handy arrow keys to move the cursor around, the usual &123 for accessing numbers/special characters and a dedicated .com button. The .com button provides three additional options if held down, .us, .net and .org. I have never seen .us used anywhere. A nice touch is the built-in smileys and there are several pages of them. They show up slightly different on other platforms but recognizable.
Windows provides you with a keyboard button to bring up a couple of other choices. One is a spread out keyboard so you can type landscape with your thumbs and gripping the sides of the tablet. A nice idea that for me isn’t comfortable for typing but YMMV. The unique addition is a writing section, shown below. (image available at end of article)
You can use a stylus or your finger to write out the name of the website, initially it provides the default type of .com. This ability I believe is only available if your Windows tablet supports a digitizer (I wasn’t aware mine supported it) so please correct me I’m wrong.
Android uses the same keyboard in their tablets that is in their phones. It is the same operating system after all. No reason to have a special one for tablets as it gets the job done. Android does provide one feature not found in the Windows version.
There is a microphone on the keyboard and when in your browser, the address bar. You can simply speak what you wish to say. It is delightfully accurate and easy to do, but I’m not a big fan of talking to my tablets.
It is a functional keyboard though I found it required a lot of movement to type in landscape mode. The keys are so far apart with a 10” tablet yet the alternative spread apart version wasn’t comfortable for me to type in. The addition of the handwriting capability certainly helps because there is no swipe (or WordFlow as Microsoft calls it) available. I find entering text is pretty accurate writing it out even in an email or document.
Typing is a bit more comfortable, mostly due to it being on a smaller screen but even removing that, it has swipe built-in. I have only just got into using swipe more and find it easy to use even though I can type quite well. The lack of other types of keyboards doesn’t hinder Android (though there are plenty of alternatives you can download instead).
The keyboards are really quite comparable, especially if you take into effect the handwriting recognition in Windows – though for some swiping is still faster. Windows provides an alternative keyboard that Android does not have though then Android has voice entry available to even the playing field.
The main differentiation is where predictive text shows up. In the browser, Windows I think is a bit more thorough in providing auto-complete as you type in the URL box. When typing in other locations they differ a bit. Windows shows the suggestions right where you are typing the word where Android has it on the top row of the keyboard. It makes a lot of sense where Windows has it.
By the slimmest of margins Windows takes this one.
Windows 2 Android 2
Next up: Search
Devices used in comparison
Asus Vivotab Smart: Windows 8.1 Update 1, 10.1” screen 1366×768, microsd slot, micro hdmi, micro USB, 2mp front camera, 8mp rear camera w/flash, 64GB storage, 2GB RAM, NFC, 2in1 audio jack.
Nexus 7 (original): Android KitKat 4.4.2, 7” screen 1280×800, micro USB, 1.2 mp front camera, 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, NFC, headphone jack