I'm writing today's post on my Android-based Acer Iconia A500 tablet. But no, I'm not tapping slowly around an on-screen keyboard. Instead, I grabbed an old USB keyboard that was laying at the bottom of a junk drawer in my closet, and I'm typing as fast as I would on my desk-bound machine. For tablet-based productivity, this is an awesome experience.
What back-bending acrobatics did I have to through to make this happen? I'll walk you through the whole process, step by step:
1) Find a USB keyboard. It has to be a PC keyboard; Mac keyboards don't seem to work.
2) Plug it into the USB port.
Yes, it's exactly the sort of ultra-technical hackery that Android has become known for, but if you can make it all the way through both steps, you'll be handsomely rewarded with the ability to type freely on a full-size keyboard.
Sadly, the Acer Iconia A500 is one of the few tablets to sport a standard USB port, so not all Android tablet users can enjoy this feature. So I'm going to take this opportunity to join my colleague Melissa Perenson in her ongoing campaign to urge tablet makers to pull their heads out of whatever crevices they've got them stuffed into and make this a standard feature across the form factor. And while I don't expect Apple to listen, I would hope that the rest of the industry sees the awesome opportunity here.
Unlike my iPad, which basically requires me to carry around a separate keyboard if I plan to do any real writing wherever I'm going, the Iconia A500 has emerged as a go-to machine for my business travel. One reason for this is that I know I can grab any old keyboard I find along the way and make it work.
Should you run out and buy an Iconia A500 to work on the go? I wouldn't go that far. Should you insist on a standard USB port on any tablet you buy? I believe you should.