bluetoothkeyboardOn ReadWriteWeb, Brian Proffitt opines that the one thing that will keep tablets from dominating the mid-sized mobile device market is the lack of a decent built-in keyboard. Tablets are light and good at doing many of the same things people use laptops for without the extra laptop bulk, but they can’t do all of them. And for the ones they can’t do, especially ones relating to productivity, they need a keyboard. Therefore, laptops will live on.

Of course, while the article is right as far as it goes, one thing it doesn’t mention is the humble, handy Bluetooth keyboard. A Bluetooth keyboard is cheap and portable, and will let you type on a tablet (or, for that matter, smart phone) just as easily as you could on a laptop. I’ve written a lot of things on Google Drive from my 7” Nook HD with Android. I could do almost everything I could on a laptop or desktop, including hitting ctrl + I to italicize. And the document would be waiting for me when I got home.

And even Bluetooth keyboards aside, I can do a surprising amount of writing using Swype on my Android tablet or even my phone. Once you get used to it, you can Swype up words surprisingly quickly, and the long-press punctuation keys eliminate having to tap into and out of another keyboard. Too bad you can’t install custom keyboards on iPads.

Of course, there will always be certain applications that are only available for desktops. And some applications need the extra screen real-estate that only a laptop or desktop can provide. But I find that a surprising number of even productivity apps can be handled with a tablet. And for those of us who need to get work done (or find excuses to procrastinate) on the go, good enough is often just fine.


  1. Although I have a bluetooth keyboard for my iPad 2, I’m finding that Dragon Dictation is very fast and pretty darn accurate. At first, I was concerned about being mistaken for one of those poor souls who are having discussions with imaginary people. Then I realized that cell phone users have already blazed this trail for me. Talking without a visible correspondent is no longer taken as prima facie evidence of insanity.

  2. As you know, Calibre has a built-in server. I have an instance of Calibre server running in my office on campus which has a fixed IP address and a fully qualified domain name. The IP address for home users can vary so this is a key difference. The Safari browser on iPad can access this server to peruse and download items for the iBooks app to render.
    Apparently, there are folks on MobileRead who are working on ways to actually manage their Calibre library remotely (
    Who knows where this may lead.

  3. I use my iPad + Bluetooth keyboard for all my writing, and I prefer it to a laptop or even my desktop.

    I do prefer editing on my desktop (two documents open side-by-side make it much faster and easier), and managing TeleRead is easier on a computer. Other than that (plus Calibre, like Joanna), I could just about do it on my iPad.

  4. Oh, and if someone could point me to how to get my Bluetooth keyboard to pair with my (first edition) Nexus 7, I’d be grateful. Apparently it’s a known problem with Android 4.3 and the Nexus 7, and the only workaround I’ve seen involves rooting, which I’d rather avoid.

    I’m hoping Kit Kat fixes the problem.

The TeleRead community values your civil and thoughtful comments. We use a cache, so expect a delay. Problems? E-mail