Tablets have become the must-have gadget for people who travel frequently. It’s an entertainment center, productivity tool and internet browser all in one compact device. Ideal for somebody who wants to write wherever and whenever they get the urge, don’t you think?
Tablets are even more lightweight and portable than a laptop—always a good thing in these days of ever reducing hand luggage allowances. A tablet, even with an additional keyboard, is something which can easily slip into a backpack without adding too much bulk or weight.
Not all tablets are created equally though, and none are specifically marketed for writers. Let’s take a look at what you should consider in a writing tablet, before studying some of the top sellers in more detail.
What a Writer Should Look for in a Tablet
When you’re looking for the perfect tablet for writing on the go, your requirements can be quite different from a laptop. The number one reason for choosing a tablet is probably the ultimate portability, but there are still other specifications you need to look out for.
While on-screen keyboards are pretty decent nowadays, they are still no replacement for a physical keyboard. They may be ok for the odd email, but will quickly become frustrating when typing a longer document. The majority of 2-in-1 tablets or Pro range of tablets now come with a detachable keyboard facility or the option to buy one.
Almost every tablet can connect to a Bluetooth keyboard, assuming they have Bluetooth of course. However, official manufacturer keyboards will often be optimized for the tablet and its apps. The official keyboards will connect via some proprietary connectors and can even be charged from the tablet if they need power.
If a tablet can’t connect to some form of a physical keyboard, it’s probably not a good choice for writing.
If you have ever tried reading a long article or web page on a smartphone, you will instantly recognize the importance of the screen size. Choosing a tablet which has too small a screen can result in you squinting to read back your words.
In general, most tablets come with screen sizes between 7 inches and 12 or 13 inches. The largest screen may be more desirable but can also compromise the portability of the tablet.
A 7-inch screen is likely to be too small for any more serious writing tasks, even though it will be easier to carry around. As a general rule, the best tablet for writers will feature a 9 or 10-inch screen.
Readability of the Screen
There will be times when you need to read competing articles or maybe do just some quick research on the net. While most pure e-readers are not really a good fit for writers, both iOS and Android now allow for access to many of the more popular ebook libraries, like Kindle, Kobo or Barnes & Noble.
Many tablet manufacturers will boast about the Full HD, 2K or even 4K resolution of their displays, which is fine for watching movies or gaming. When looking for a screen which is easier to read on, pixel density is what matters most.
The higher the PPI (pixels per inch), the sharper the text will appear on the screen. Apple developed Retina technology which features more pixels per inch than the human retina can see. Extreme, I know, but many other manufacturers also boast a similar pixel density now.
Apps, OS and Software
A tablet will usually come with a web browser, YouTube and a few simple note-taking apps, but does it feature any word processing apps? If not, which apps are available, and can you install your favorite, or required, app?
Microsoft Office is now available across all three of the major platforms, iOS, Android and, of course, Windows. It even comes pre-installed on the Microsoft tablets, with a free trial period. There are also many mobile optimized apps available in all three app stores.
Storage and Connectivity
Text documents don’t tend to take up too much room, it’s the pictures and videos you add to them that require more space. The tablet you choose may need to have external storage facilities, like an SD card slot or USB for external hard drives, depending on how much storage you require.
For the ultimate convenience with cloud storage or online apps, you will need a decent Wi-Fi connection or cellular connectivity. A 4G LTE SIM can make it much more versatile, allowing you to upload your writing quickly, or carry out quick research and send emails while out and about.
Finally, consider how long the battery life is of any potential tablet for writing on the go. It’s no good having all this technology for writing if it’s going to run out mid-article or mid-novel. Fortunately, most tablets have a longer battery life than laptops, often 12 hours or more.
Using text-only documents, on average, uses much less power than heavy duty tasks, like gaming or streaming HD content. Turning down the contrast on the screen and switching off Wi-Fi can also help extend the life of your battery for longer assignments.
The Best Tablet for Writers
Now you have a better idea of what to look for in a tablet for writing, let’s get down to business. Here are our top five picks for the best tablet for writers. Hopefully one of them will help you write your next masterpiece or opus.
Best Overall—Microsoft Surface Go
Sporting a smaller form factor, the Surface Go features a 10-inch PixelSense display and weighs only 1.15 pounds, the lightest Surface device available. This Surface is much more suited to throwing in a satchel when writing on the move. A smaller “Type Cover” attaches, with full-sized keys, and it’s a pleasure to type on.
Using an Intel Pentium Gold processor and with 8GB of RAM, it is more than capable of handling even the heaviest duty writing tasks. Running Windows 10 S mode, all the Microsoft Office apps are preinstalled and it can use any desktop writing software you throw at it.
Microsoft Surface tablets have been a firm favorite of many writers, for the full Windows functionality they offer. The new Surface Go comes in a more portable and affordable package, which still boasts a quality screen and 9-hour battery life. Ideal for writers on the move or students who need a reliable writing tablet.
- The HD screen, with 217 PPI, provides crisp and sharp text in a high contrast display.
- Storage can be expanded via MicroSDXC card reader.
- USB-C 3.1 port for faster charging and connection to modern accessories.
- Dual Band Wi-FI connectivity for more versatility.
- Microsoft Office 365 pre-installed.
- The keyboard is one of the best you will find for tablets.
- Can also use the Surface Pen for jotting down notes or editing documents.
- The keyboard and Surface Pen are both expensive extra purchases.
- No 4G LTE cellular option available.
- The processor is less powerful than an iPad.
The Best Apple Tablet for Writers—Apple iPad Pro 10.5”
For the best Apple tablet for writing, we have chosen one that is slap bang in the middle of the range. The 2018 entry-level iPad may support the Apple Pencil, but we find the screen, at under 10 inches, is just a little on the small side. The iPad Pro 10.5-inch may not be the latest Pro but, at a lower price, it’s more affordable.
An industry leading Retina display ensures that your text is always crisp, with more pixels than the human retina can even see. The powerful A10 processor means there is no lag as you enter your writing on the additional, superb, Apple keyboard. This is a sleek and lightweight creativity tool for writers looking for a tablet that’s great to use anywhere.
- Super thin and lightweight, at only 1.05 pounds.
- 264 PPI full HD Retina display for clear images and less eye strain.
- Wide choice of creative writing apps on the App store, including MS Word, Ulysses and Final Draft for screenwriters.
- The smart keyboard is comfortable to use.
- Apple Pencil support.
- 4G LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity available.
- More affordable than the newer iPad Pro range.
- Includes Touch ID for security.
- Better than average 12MP rear camera for adding images to your work.
- No option for external storage. You will have to rely on the iCloud or Dropbox.
- Keyboard and Pencil are not included—expensive additional purchases.
- Locked into the Apple App store, with less flexibility than Android or Windows.
Best Android Tablet for Writers—Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Thanks to the new DeX desktop overlay, this is the closest an Android tablet gets to a desktop PC. It features a Super AMOLED display which, at 10.5 inches, is large enough for most writing tasks, yet compact enough to easily fit in a satchel.
An optional keyboard case is available for this tablet, which turns it into the perfect writing tool. An S Pen is actually included in the box, which you can use to jot down notes from day one. With the keyboard attached, the DeX software allows you to multi-task and juggle between apps, just like on a Windows machine.
Extras include Far-Field array mics, which can be used to control Google Assistant or simply dictate notes to write up later. The 2.5K HD screen is ideal for reading or surfing the web and can also be enjoyed for multimedia in your downtime. The Samsung S4 is an affordable Android tablet ideal for writing, or even playing on the go.
- Powerful octa-core processor for more demanding productivity tasks.
- Runs the latest version of Android 8.0 Oreo.
- DeX software emulates a laptop file management system and desktop.
- Crisp SuperAMOLED 2560 x 1600 display for clear text and pictures.
- Fast charge battery, with up to 16 hours of use from a single charge.
- Expandable external storage up to 400GB with MicroSD card.
- Cinematic Dolby ATMOS surround sound system for watching media content.
- Includes Google Assistant and far array mics.
- Compatible with Microsoft Office and many more writing apps in the Google Play Store.
- S Pen is included in the box and never needs charging.
- S4 Keyboard cover must be purchased separately.
- No trackpad on the keyboard means you may need a mouse which cuts down on the portable use.
- The DeX software is still in early stages and can be clunky.
Best Budget Tablet for Writers—ASUS ZenPad 300M
For writers on a budget looking for the best tablet for writing, the ASUS ZenPad Z300M offers incredible value for money. It uses a quad-core Realtek processor with integrated Mali graphics for a powerful performance under $200.
The 10.1-inch, 1200 by 1800 screen, uses ASUS TruVivid technology for a better viewing performance, ideal for writers. A suite of visual enhancements allows you to alter all aspects of the display, including a Bluelight filter which can help avoid the headaches and eye damage of using LED displays for extended times.
The ASUS ZenPad is extremely responsive and fast, running the recent Android Marshmallow OS. The 16GB onboard storage can be expanded with a MicroSD and all ASUS tablets come with a free 100GB of Google cloud storage.
To make the most of this tablet, writers will need to buy an external Bluetooth keyboard, but these are normally much cheaper than official OEM keyboards.
- Very affordable yet powerful 10.1-inch Android tablet.
- Stunning large IPS display with full customization options.
- Bluelight filter rarely found at this price and ideal for longer writing tasks.
- Android OS offers Microsoft Office compatibility or excellent Android apps, like OfficeSuite and Google Docs.
- Free 100GB Google Cloud storage.
- Long battery life of 10 hours.
- Bluetooth keyboards can be a cheaper alternative to official keyboard cases.
- No option for upgrading the Android OS system to later versions.
- SD card storage expansion is limited to 64GB.
- No flex storage, apps can’t be moved to the SD card.
- Wi-Fi only, no 4G option and poor cameras—although both can be solved by syncing to a suitable smartphone.
Best Tablet with a Keyboard Included—HP Pavilion Detachable x2 Laptop Tablet
This HP Pavilion 2-in-1 tablet is a great affordable choice for writers. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to worry about purchasing an extra keyboard, it’s included in the package.
A large, 10.1-inch, BrightView back-lit display features a 1280 by 800 resolution screen, which is plenty big enough for writing. With the keyboard attached and running Windows 10, you will hardly notice that you are using a tablet. It makes the job of writing as easy as it could be, with all the writing applications you could ever need.
Of course, at this price, compromises have been made, with only 2GB of system RAM, it makes multitasking mostly impossible. The performance isn’t a patch on more expensive Windows devices, like the Surface, but it is under half the price, including the keyboard.
- 1-inch IPS WXGA display offers crisp text and images for writing.
- 10 finger multi-touch support.
- Runs full Windows 10 out of the box for more software options.
- Fast startup with an eMMC SSD drive.
- Long battery life of up to 9.5 hours.
- Quality laptop-style keyboard included in the box.
- Intel HD graphics and DTS Studio sound for multimedia performance.
- External storage options include MicroSD card or full-sized USB 3.0 port.
- Bulky and heavier than most other tablets, at 2.4 pounds.
- Lower powered Intel Atom processor can cause lag on more demanding tasks.
- Only 2GB of RAM barely meets the minimum requirements of Windows 10.
- No 4G LTE connectivity.
Writers don’t demand too much out of a tablet for working on the go. As long as you can connect a keyboard, the screen is easy to read, and the software is available, any tablet could be used for writing.
However, why carry a separate device for your writing and then need another one for your web access or media needs? A higher performance tablet can cope with all your writing demands and be a useful tool for research, staying in contact with home and all your entertainment needs on the road.
The Microsoft Surface Go is our choice for the best tablet for writers. A comfortable full-sized keyboard and excellent display make it the best all-round tablet for writers, regardless of whether they’re at home, or getting inspired in a far-off romantic location. Windows 10 and full Microsoft Office pre-installed is just the icing on the cake.