Trying to Tame the Tablet

Like many folks, I received a shiny new Nexus 7 tablet for Christmas. This brought me great joy and excitement as I began to plot my future paperless life. For most of the evening and an hour or so the next day, I was sure the new Android tablet would change my life forever. Sadly, it wasn't that easy. This month, I want to dive head first into the tablet lifestyle, but I'm not sure if it's really the lifestyle for me. I'll try to keep everyone posted during the next few months (most likely in the Upfront section of LJ). And please, please don't hesitate to send me messages about the ways you find your Android tablet useful at work/home/play.

At Work

The main reason I decided on the Nexus 7 was because with the leather case I bought for it (Figure 1), it was small enough to carry to meetings easily, yet big enough to view full-size documents. I figured with a tablet computer, I might be able to do away with most of the paper in my life. I have cabinets full of filed papers that I never use. I do, however, search my e-mail on a regular basis for communications sent or received years ago. I want that same accessibility for items that exist only in paper form now.

Figure 1. My case doubles as a stand.

Paperless: Evernote or Dropbox

I've been trying to go paperless since long before I got a tablet computer. There seems to be two schools of thought in the paperless department. There are the Evernote people, and there are the "every-other-kind" of people. I have Evernote on every electronic device I own (which is a significant number), and I have to admit, for raw information, Evernote is amazing. The problem comes with documents. Granted, documents can be added to an Evernote note, but they are like e-mail attachments, and they can't be modified once attached. This means, at least for me, that the only documents I ever attach are "complete" documents that are printed as PDF files.

I don't have a good solution for how to handle Word/LibreOffice documents in Evernote. So, that means I have an inconvenient combination of Evernote for unformatted information and Dropbox for documents. Thankfully, both applications run very well on Android, so although I don't have a central repository for all my information, at least I can access all the information from my tablet.

Getting Data In

Evernote includes a really nice mechanism for using a device's camera for importing digital snapshots of documents, notes, whiteboards and so forth. Unfortunately, the Nexus 7 doesn't have a rear camera. Thankfully, my cell phone has a really nice camera, and it also has Evernote installed. Because I never intended my tablet to replace my cell phone, this isn't a big issue for me. I just whip out my phone if I need to import something optically into Evernote.

My biggest hope with the Nexus 7 was that I could avoid toting around legal pads and pens to meetings. I tend to take "doodle" notes, so a laptop really isn't ideal for me at a meeting. (Plus, I tend to become distracted with a laptop and multitask my way into trouble quite often.) I researched capacitive styli and found the New Trent IMP62B to be just about the best option (Figure 2). It's less than $10, and it's remarkably precise for a stylus with a rather bulbous tip.

Figure 2. This stylus is remarkably precise given the size of its tip.

After buying a stylus, coming up with a note-taking application proved to be difficult. I almost can get there with a couple apps, but nothing has been the ideal option for me. The closest I've come to perfection is Lecture Notes, which has some critical features:

  • Importing PDF files from Dropbox for annotation during a meeting (for example, an agenda).
  • Exporting directly to Evernote.
  • Very fine lines when writing.
  • Simple interface for changing pens, erasing and so on.

I'll admit, it's still not as quick as writing on paper, but for some quick doodles on a PDF agenda, Lecture Notes does a nice job (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Lecture Notes is a great application if you want to take notes with a stylus.

My wife actually likes to type on her tablet (an iPad Mini) with the onboard keyboard. If she's taking notes, she'll just open up Google Docs and type on the screen. For me, typing on any screen is awkward and slow. If I have to do any real typing on my tablet, I'll use a Bluetooth keyboard. At that point, however, I might as well just use a laptop. In a pinch, it's certainly possible to type a few notes with the on-screen keyboard, and if you don't have a laptop, a Bluetooth keyboard will help manage some serious typing. Still, I don't recommend it. Any Nexus-size keyboards are too small to type well with, and any full-size Bluetooth keyboards are cumbersome to carry around.

______________________

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

Comments

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perfect

Spot UV Postcards's picture

I think there are lots of ways but taming the tablet is the particular one to make the experience more accurate

Google Docs

greenseo's picture

this is a great text.
I think it's great!
thank you keep it up

Google Docs

greenseo's picture

this is a great text.
I think it's great!
thank you keep it up

tame it man

nick edward's picture

IF u are looking for tame your tablet than why not just make it dual os just like having both windows and android in 1 . . . if you are willing to make your own brochur just click in brochure holders

IF u are looking for tame

nick edward's picture

IF u are looking for tame your tablet than why not just make it dual os just like having both windows and android in 1 . . . if you are willing to make your own brochur just click in brochure holders

Experience

sidewalk signs's picture

If u are Trying to Tame the Tablet it is good to have ur own experience with tablet . . .

Experience

sidewalk signs's picture

If u are Trying to Tame the Tablet it is good to have ur own experience with tablet . . .

Just take it

Glossy Business Cards's picture

if there is a say the when u find some thing u special just take it than i would like to tke this idea of Tame the Tablet

Thanks to share this article

Murks Smith's picture

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PRIVACY - not

Anonymous's picture

Hi there - so many reviews of the Nexus 7 out there, yet almost no one mentions the HUGE privacy invasion Android represents. Everything EVERYTHING on your device goes to one giant US for-profit corporation to use in any way they wish. Even when the Nexus 7 is powered off, the darn thing will grab any nearby wi-fi and send make contact. Run a sniffer on the thing - you'll be amazed at what goes out. Read the Android privacy agreement - you abrogate all rights to Google.
Those of use who are blessed by not living in the United States are absolutely appalled at the privacy invasions you folks seem to take for granted on your devices. A sad comment on what has happened to your country.

I think now a days tablet pc

Gina Gomege's picture

I think now a days tablet pc is really became a essential daily needed tools , so we should care about this tools much . The woodlands landscaping

great article......thanks !

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best waterproof camera

Jason H Austin's picture

The fact that there's a blog post and a long discussion on something that should be taken for granted speaks volumes. Not a good catch-up strategy I'd say. I hope Google will rectify this in the next version, including a hires camera on the back. Go to any tourist spot and you'll notice people taking videos with their iPads! What will smaller iPads enable? That's right, more tourists taking videos with them. Remember the days when "calling people" used to be the primary feature on a smart-phone!?
Owning an underwater camera opens a whole world of new photography opportunities. best waterproof camera Whether you want to preserve memories of family vacations, have a good time in the water with your friends or simply purchase a camera that will be safe in rain, a waterproof camera is a worthy purchase.

I like treq for anroid how

cari uang's picture

I like treq for anroid how about you?

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really fantastic......

Leather journals's picture

wow ! the tablet is really fantastic & the pen also !

All the articles you talked

ibaikal's picture

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All the articles you talked

ibaikal's picture

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mini tablet compare

nicholasdan's picture

Yes,Google Nexus 7 tablet is good.
Here I find a high performance-to-price ratio tablet-FNF ifive mini 2. Compare with Nexus 7:

  1. it has dual camara:2.0MP front camera and 5.0 MP back camera;
  2. The thickness is 9.4mm, while Nexus 7 tablet is 13mm;
  3. It have more function and input/output port than Nexus 7 tablet,for example:card slot,HDMI port,external 3G dongle support;
  4. The price is cheaper, only US$159.99

Google Docs

Anonymous's picture

I find Google Docs very well.
Great invention that I have to have every day.
It can hardly be imagined without me!

What is Limited Liability

kitapbigi's picture

What is Limited Liability Company (LLC)?
The Limited Liability Company or LLC is not a partnership or a corporation. Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a relatively new business structure allowed by state statute. An LLC is a distinct type of business that offers an alternative to partnerships and corporations, by combining the corporate advantages of limited liability with the partnership advantage of pass-through taxation.

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Google Docs

Anonymous's picture

Misc:

My wife & I share info like shopping lists using Google Docs, which works well.

I've found Evernote to be too awkward to use on phones & tablets, but that may be just me. Never tried Dropbox.

Netflix is great on the Nexus. Hulu won't play unless you opt for Plus, which has less content than the free version.

Generally, our tablets are for info consumption; info creation is still best done from a laptop or desktop.

Reply to comment | Linux Journal

see page's picture

This is a good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere.
Simple but very accurate info… Appreciate your sharing this one.

A must read article!

Shawn, have you tried the

tvphil's picture

Shawn, have you tried the gesture typing on the keyboard that came with Jelly Bean 4.2? I find it much easier, you might like it as a stylus replacement. It's nearly identical to Samsung's Swype keyboard.

Hacker's Keyboard

xrat's picture

Great review. My findings are similar. -- Since you mentioned ConnectBot, I couldn't live (on the command-line) without the Hacker's Keyboard: https://code.google.com/p/hackerskeyboard/

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