I had the opportunity to use a tablet plus USB keyboard plus carry case witha kick stand combination two days ago. Alone, the tablet was not so compelling, but the complete package changed the equation for me. It looked like something meant for serious work, and after a couple of hours of use, I daresay that it made sense for serious work.
First off, a little about the tablet itself. The unit was the product of a little known brand, Proscan. It is a 7-inch tablet running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, a 1.2GHz processor and 512MB of RAM. The display is a capacitive touch type. Internal storage is just 4GB, but there is a micro-SD cared slot that takes up to 32GB cards. There is a a mini-USB slot that lets you use a modem, USB flash drives or the physical keyboard. It is a shame that there is only one such slot. It means that once the keyboard is plugged in, you can’t use a modem or flash drive. Real shame. Adding an extra slot would make this tablet a much more compelling computing tool.
In use, the physical keyboard is very good and usable. I found it comfortable and very fast to type on. It is connected to the tablet by means of a supplied mini-USB cable. I was able to type reasonably fast – quite faster than I did on the tablet itself.
While the display isn’t bad, I found that sometimes I had to poke at the screen a couple of times before it registered some taps. That is an issue that seems common to low-cost Android tablets in general. It isn’t terrible, but if you have used more responsive displays, you will notice it and it will irritate you.
I used an Airtel USB modem with the tablet, and had no issues save Airtel’s shaky network coverage at the location. When I needed to use the keyboard though, I had to detach that. But there’s also a Wi-Fi radio in there, so I just used connected it to my mobile Wi-Fi (MiFi) network and got on with my work.
In my opinion, a complete package of this sort makes a more compelling argument for tablet use than a standalone tablet. I notice that many of my business friends who own tablets, be it iPads or some Android models, they almost all use it in a package that includes a physical keyboard and a carry case. Almost every single one of them. I still believe that a physical keyboard is a game changer for serious work on a mobile device. I really do suspect that this generation are not ecstatic about hardware keyboards because many of them never learnt to type properly and have been saved by Swype and Swiftkey.
I don’t have any idea of the retail cost of this package, as the owner said he got his as a gift. It does seem like an affordable solution that will interest those who need to work on the go.