How to turn your tablet into an essay-writing laptop
The software, accessories and apps you need to write essays on your tablet
24 Jun 2014
You may think of a tablet as an entertainment device - browsing the web, watching Netflix and updating Twitter.
But choose the right one, add the right accessories and it can be transformed into an essay-writing laptop for school or university.
The essential kit
Office-style software or apps
A large screen suited to typing
A tablet cover with built in wireless keyboard
Office-style software or apps
This is the most-important feature. Without a word processing program or app you won't be able to write a sonnet let alone 4,000 words on Dostoyevsky.
You have a number of options for this.
If you've ever typed, put together a presentation or worked on a spreadsheet you've probably used Office. When it comes to using it on tablets, the full version of Office is available on Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 2.
There's also a tablet-specific version for the iPad - Office for iPad. Expect touchscreen-friendly versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel.
Microsoft is also working on Office for Android, according to reports.
Where to get it: Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and 3, Apple iPad
How to get it: Subscribe to Office 365 University then download the apps
We love: The fact you can access documents on an iPad, pick up again on a Windows laptop and edit documents collaboratively
iWork is Apple's own productivity suite for writing documents, drawing up spreadsheets or planning presentations on Apple devices. If you're writing an essay you'll use the Pages program. It has a clean, simple design so it's pretty easy to get started.
Save work to iCloud and pick up across your different Apple devices - perfect if you work mainly with Apple products.
Where to get it: iPad Air, iPad mini
How to get it: Comes as standard on all Apple tablets, laptops and desktops
We love: The fact it's free and allows you to share work across different Apple devices
Google's apps for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations live online, in the cloud. You don't download them onto your tablet. You access them through Google Drive in a web browser.
If you're writing an essay you'll use the Google Docs app. Because they live online you can access them from any tablet.
You can work on documents at the same time as a colleague based elsewhere, just hit the share button at the top of the page.
Where to get it: Live online so available on any tablet
We love: The fact it saves your work automatically and is easy to share with friends
A wireless keyboard
(Logitech Ultrathin keyboard cover)
You can't write anything of more than a sentence or 2 using a tablet's on-screen keyboard.
Thankfully, there's a whole host of add on keyboards to choose from - here we pick out 1 each for the iPad Air, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.5 and the Microsoft Surface Pro.
Why buy a add on-keyboard?
- Wireless - connect to your tablet via Bluetooth
- Lightweight - and some double as a case for your tablet
- Transforms your tablet into an essay-writing laptop
1) Logitech ultrathin keyboard cover for iPad/iPad Air
This does exactly what it says on the tin. It's thin and lightweight. It provides a cover to protect your iPad screen and connects via Bluetooth so no need for any wires. Cnet reviewer Scott Stein handed it an editors' choice excellent rating.
2) Samsung Bluetooth keyboard
Samsung launched this Bluetooth keyboard alongside the new Galaxy Tab S to show the tablet was about work as well as play. It's slim and lightweight and features the same design layout as a laptop keyboard.
3) Surface Pro type keyboard cover
This ultra-thin, lightweight keyboard cover clips on to your Surface Pro 2 with a magnet. It pretty much transforms your tablet into a laptop. It features backlit keys and function keys for getting things done quickly. It also acts as a cover for your Surface Pro.
Below are a few apps that will also help make the essay-writing process even smoother on your tablet.
- Google Chrome - Download the Google Chrome app and use it as your web browser to match what you're used to on your laptop
- Documents To Go - This will allow you to open Microsoft Office documents people send you even if you don't have Office
- Evernote - Note taking app. Great for jotting down research and to-do lists while writing an essay in another program
Buying a tablet designed for typing - other things to look out for
(Samsung Galaxy Tab S)
If you're using your tablet for typing on the go, it must be portable.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 is one of the thinnest and lightest options - at 6.6mm thick and weighing 465g. The iPad Air meanwhile weighs 469g and measures 7.5mm thick.
If you're going to using your tablet to do lots of typing you need one with larger screen. Look tablets such as the Apple iPad Air (9.7-inch screen), Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10.5-inch screen) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (10.1-inch screen).
If you're going to be running software such as Office or iWork you want a tablet with a fast, efficient processor. The iPad Air runs the powerful A7 chip. It uses the kind of 64-bit technology normally seen in a desktop PC.
The Microsoft Surface Pro boasts Intel's latest Core processor - the same one you'll find in high-end laptops. It's capable of running the full Windows 8.1 as well as programs such as Adobe Photoshop.
Check out the Surface Pro range here.
Or check out our full range of tablets