Although you might never do much typing on your tablet, you'll need to use the on-screen keyboard for emails and web searches.
Typing is much easier on a tablet when it’s held in landscape mode, as the keyboard is wider and has larger keys.
On the iPad, an on-screen keyboard appears at the bottom whenever you press a text entry box, such as a username or password field. It then disappears again when you press Enter, Search or Done. The keyboard can be switched to display numbers and special characters.
The iPad doesn’t have haptic feedback (a tiny vibration when you press a key) but instead plays a click sound. The keyboard can be split in half by literally pulling it apart at the centre, which makes it easier to enter text with just your thumbs, if you hold your tablet at each side.
The third-generation new iPad adds voice recognition, so you can dictating long messages with punctuation rather than typing. It's more accurate than a lot of voice recognition software, but is still prone to the odd mistake.
Android's keyboard is very similar but it takes up slightly more space on the screen than the iPad’s. If you enable voice recognition, it works as well as on the iPad, but the difference is that nearly all Android tablets support it. Some Android devices respond haptically when you press a key, with a small vibration. Some find this helps with accurate typing, as you know exactly when a key has been pressed, but it can be turned off.
The keyboard is one of the few weak areas of the Blackberry PlayBook. The 7-inch screen size means each key occupies less physical space than on the iPad, so you have to be quite accurate when typing.
All three platforms allow you to select, cut, copy, and paste text. On Android, if you press and hold at the start of a block of text, it becomes highlighted. You can then move the markers to select more, or less text if you need, then press the copy, cut, or select all buttons.
It’s similar on iOS. Tapping and holding your finger over a word selects it, and a magnifying glass appears above your finger so you can see what you're selecting. Blue handles appear at the start and end of the block of text and can be adjusted easily.
The PlayBook uses a similar method too, although a subtle difference is the giant size of the text markers, which are easier to move about.
Overall, the iPad - particularly the new third-generation - just edges the competition to be the best for typing. It's great autocorrection, accuracy, responsiveness and reasonably accurate dictation mean you can send messages and type emails virtually as quickly as on a laptop.
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