Using Nexus 7 with keyboard: Not on your life

Using Nexus 7 with keyboard: Not on your life

Summary: The Nexus 7 has captured the attention of many interested in the smaller tablet form. Some are wondering if the highly portable tablet would be good to use with a keyboard for content creation. My experience says no way.

Nexus 7 Keyboard

My Nexus 7 is almost always in my hand, surfing the web, researching articles, reading an ebook, or otherwise consuming content from the web. It is particularly useful for those purposes as I have detailed in the past. I am getting asked if the Nexus 7 would be useful for creating content with an external keyboard. My answer is absolutely not.

I have a reputation for using tablets in my work by using them with keyboards to write thousands of words. They are very good at that as my working history proves, but only to a point. 

The Nexus 7 will never be good for writing as I do, even with a good external keyboard. That's due to one factor: size. While the 7-inch display makes the Nexus 7 perfect for a portable companion, it is too limiting for use as a laptop replacement.

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This limit is due to two factors, keyboard width and display size. Just like the original 7-inch netbook, the Eee PC, the Nexus 7 is too narrow to support a case with a workable keyboard. I never could type well on the Eee PC, and the same would be true for any keyboard for the Nexus 7.

The screen size is even worse for using in a laptop configuration with a keyboard. While the small display is perfect while held in the hand not too far from the eyes, it's a different ballgame when propped up with a keyboard for typing. The small screen is too far from the eyes and just too darn small to be useful.

That's why I can't see ever using the Nexus 7 as a standin for writing, even if it's the only gadget in the bag. While larger tablets like the iPad work well for me for such tasks, I am not willing to use something that makes the process difficult. A tiny display would certainly do that so I'll stick to using the iPad for writing and the Nexus 7 for most everything else.

Topics: Tablets, Android, Apple, Google, iPad, Mobility

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  • How about this: stop using things in ways they weren't designed.

    I'm always amused by the keyboard toting tablet users. If you're going that far, you'd be better off just buying a laptop. Use a tablet as a tablet and a laptop as a laptop. Actually text editing or creating other content on a tablet isn't pleasant, and anyone who disagrees is deluding themselves.

    It why I laugh every time I see the iPad commercial where the guy is painting a sunset with his finger. Some things are just impractical.
    • I agree.

      I use my tablet and phone to answer emails or tweet in a pinch, but if I'm at home, I almost always reach for my bluetooth keyboard and make a temporary link with those mobile devices.

      I looked into the dedicated keyboards for my iPad, the ones that come with a cover. The keyboards are designed strictly for light, casual typing, with the alphabet affixed to the keys as decals that would wear down quickly if the accessory were used daily.

      Now I'm not adverse to the idea of replacing a laptop with a tablet (or vice versa, once the touchsreen-enabled Ultrabooks make their debut along with Windows 8). When the Surface is out, I will definitely consider getting one.
      Tech watcher
      • The Transformer tablets and keyboards are perfect

        It's the best of both worlds. The great thing about an Android tablet like the Transformer Prime is that the they're fully compatible with mice and game controllers both wired and wireless right out of the box. The fact that the Android software can recognize a mouse cursor like any tablet is huge when it comes to doing real work and for it to be a true laptop replacement option. The iPad is incapable of doing that so it will never work as a true laptop replacement.

        For example, I use my Prime and keyboard dock all the time when I'm writing for longer periods. That's also the case when I connect my wireless game controller to play games. Certain games are soooo much better with a game controller. And with the extra battery in the keyboard dock, it rocks playing games for long periods without having to have your tablet tethered to an electrical outlet.

        Of course, let's not forget the built-in file manager on the Transformer Prime. Again, when you combine that with using a mouse, it's exactly like a laptop except better because you can always use the touch screen at any given moment. Something you can't do on a laptop, BTW.

        The iPad can't do any of these things.
    • One more comment

      No one ever talked about getting a keyboard for the Nook or the Kindle Fire, so why would someone try using the Nexus 7 as a laptop substitute with a keyboard?

      The bigger screen of the iPad makes it less portable than the Nexus 7. As the blogger himself attested, he could get more work done with that than any 7" tablet.
      Tech watcher
      • Good question

        Tech watcher wrote:
        "No one ever talked about getting a keyboard for the Nook or the Kindle Fire, so why would someone try using the Nexus 7 as a laptop substitute with a keyboard?

        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • A lack of bluetooth...

        Nook or Kindle Fire couldn't support a keyboard as neither has bluetooth and thus no way to connect a keyboard.
      • Re: One more comment

        The Kindle Fire doesn't have bluetooth.
        Casey Mills
    • The point is true portability.

      I use my tablet as a laptop at times I don't need the complete function of a laptop. Tablets typically cost less, last longer on a charge, weigh much less and the keyboard docks sometimes double up as batteries making them last that much longer.

      You can also make the argument about portability because a simple USB cable and small USB wall plug are all you need for charging. Most laptops have the big adapters making them that much heavier and difficult to transport. (Especially if you're like me and travel a lot and want the most out of your travel bag compartment space).
  • Keyboards can be beneficial

    While I agree that a 7" tablet is not ideal for extensive or detailed content creation, I would argue that a 7" tablet can handle a number of tasks to where a keyboard would speed the completion of those tasks.
    Shortly after my Nexus 7 arrived I purchased a keyboard designed for Android. So far, it has served me well. (I generally leave my laptop in my home office at the end of the day and my Nexus 7 becomes my primary computing device as I finish out the day.)
    I also have a keyboard for my iPad. When I am using my iPad as a sub for my work laptop, it is almost always with the keyboard since the amount of typing I am doing is significant.
  • don't even like laptops

    James, I believe only writers would find the 10" tablet with keyboard relatively practical, but seems like even then a nice netbook would be better, assuming you need to be mobile. I am a programmer who rarely travels, and absolutely will not do any serious work without a full size, super duper desktop system and a standard keyboard and mouse, at a desk. There is the android IDE (AIDE) app for development on an android device itself, but you really have to ask - why?

    Back at home, when I got my transformer (no keyboard), I stopped using my laptop completely. I started to realize how I much I hate trackpads. The laptop originally seemed like a cool device as it was small and portable but now with tablets, laptops seem worst of both worlds. So, I got the transformer keyboard and use that very rarely, for ordering stuff or answering the quick email, but the laptop is gone. I print to my desktop printer using cloud print.

    Yes, many people *need* laptops if they need a full blown computer on the go, typically for work, but many really do not and would be better served with a nice desktop and huge monitor. I found trying to do anything productive on the couch would not get done.
  • Here's a novel idea

    How about you use the voice dictation that Google through in, just for kicks. I have a feeling, even though it's not perfect, with proof reading, you'd still likely get the job done in no time, fixing errors with the on board keyboard. And the Nexus 7 will be just inches away, so you can see exactly what's being typed.

    I use it all the time at work/school, and I find, even though I'm a pretty good typist (about 65 words a minute on a physical keyboard), I get done faster. Kingsoft office does a pretty good job with Headings, titles, indention and bullets. I can even add pictures. Oh and the app is free and Microsoft Office compatible.

    Mr. Kendrick, you're pretty good. I promised I would stop reading your articles, but you have a way with titles, that compels me to come forth, to figure out, what the issue is.

    At least I can help those that read the comments to use the tools that the N7 has at their disposal. Oh, and offline dictation... It really does works. I would have liked to see an article, where you outlined the problem and provided a solution. I thought that's what tech sites, were supposed to do.

    I dictate responses to my Youtube channel, Google+, facebook and even emails. The mic functions is usually always on the screen keyboard (bottom left side, staring at you).

    I do agree, using an external keyboard with the 7" Nexus, is a great way to strain your eyes. I'd just rather use my voice for extended typing. And judging by those glasses, you might want to think about doing the same! (Just a little fun, no disrespect, Mr. Kendrick)
    • Dictation

      I don't know about James, but I don't feel comfortable dictating in public. Cell phones are bad enough - is he psychotic or talking on a cell...
      Swype keyboard which includes Dragon Dictation is incredible. 100 percent accurate for me so far. A very credible substitute for a keyboard - if you are in a place where you can talk to your tablet.
      Robert Mitchell
  • MHL?

    Well, I can use a keyboard with my Galaxy Nexus smartphone and connect the output to a big monitor or TV with MHL-HDMI. With an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and touchpad it makes a nice occasional laptop replacement However, I can't view the Nexus 7 screen out to MHL-HDMI-HDTV even though the Bluetooth keyboard works. So James is right, a keyboard is not as useful on the Nexus 7, too bad.
    • I love the Galaxy Nexus!

      It's a great phone. It's also $150 extra on the play store. I could get it now on my carrier for $99 subsidized, $550 to own it free and clear. My contract is nearly up, so $99 does sound good, but I want to see what the Next Nexus phone will have.

      It's too bad Asus and Google didn't include MHL, but, it is, after all, a rather inexpensive tablet, even early in it's life cycle.
  • Stuck in the Apple mindset James?

    " not willing to use something that makes the process difficult"

    "stick to using the iPad for writing"

    Those two comments totally contradict one other. It's evident the author doesn't have the faintest idea of what a netbook is meant to be used for.

    That said, I'd welcome a 7" device with a small keyboard. Not necessarily for content creation, but for fast user input, similar to what Sharp did in the 90's with their zd8000 organizers. I remember I could punch out words on that thing SO FAST.
  • Apple Copy

    I dont know who came out with it first but I've been seeing more keyboards for apple's ipad.
  • I love it nexus - 7 - keyboard cover

    The following link has great information about the covers and it is very useful.
    vinoth kanna
  • Oh brother

    "I can't see ever using the Nexus 7 as a standin for writing, even if it's the only gadget in the bag."
    So, he'd rather do without than use a non-Apple device. Nope- no bias here!
  • Though small in size, but good to use!!

    Nexus 7 tablet is a 7 inch small tablet, but a very good tablet to use for light work. This is just for those people who have to wanders here and there during their work. They will find it very light, compact, ultra portable and easy to use.
    another good thing is that you can connect a small keyboard to it, which is a must for those who needs to type a lot during their work. I'll say that just get Nexus 7 keyboard cover with built in wireless Bluetooth keyboard, it is specially designed for you. It connects quickly and is made of quality materials.
    its folio style makes the tablet with keyboard just look like a book you carry everywhere.