Experience of using a Windows 10 tablet without a keyboard

Having seen a topic about pen compatible apps, I have a thought: why not share my experience of using a windows 10 tablet?

(tl;dr: I use my Surface 3 mostly in tablet mode as a ultimate notebook with a Surface pen, and it significantly improve my efficiency with the help of both UWP and win32 apps.)

I have owned a Surface 3 (non-pro version) for 3 months for reading textbooks and taking notes. Most of the time I leave the keyboard alone and use the Surface as a tablet. Is the experience decent? I would say yes, but only after finding suitable apps and using Surface with a Surface pen. Windows 10 is not a good touch OS if you only use your finger tips as the input.

I have to emphasize again, that a pen is necessary to make a Windows 10 tablet useful. The main reason is that what Windows 10 excels iOS is the file management and full functional win32 software. However, these two features have not been optimized to touch input (yet), and using them without a mouse or trackpad is abysmal. The pen can pretty much replace the mouse in daily usage by having more accuracy than your finger tips, and the button on the pen provides the ability to call out traditional right-click menus with ease (otherwise you will have to long press the screen, which is time-consuming and not accurate). With the pen, I can navigate websites and traditional win32 apps much more easier in tablet mode.

The pen also make note taking so much more enjoyable. I buy my Surface to read and annotate on PDFs, do complicate engineering calculation, and take notes. Below are some of the apps I use:

  1. OneNote
    There are 2 versions of OneNote: UWP (Windows Store) and desktop. The desktop version has a lot of extra features like playback notes along the recording, while UWP version is more light weight.

  2. Xodo
    Xodo, in my opinion, is the better PDF reader that accepts pen input. It is light and functional, and has a clean interface. Drawboard PDF is also an option.

  3. HP calculator emulator
    This is better than ANY calculator you can find in the Windows store. The main emulator is emu48 (latest version is 1.58), and there are many skins in the website, some of which are touch-optimized.

Other than apps I use for study, for recreational use I recommend these apps:

  1. Plumbago, Fresh Paint, Sketchable
    These are painting apps. You can find more in the Windows Ink space in the Windows Store. I am not a painter, but doodling is certainly fun.

  2. Readit for reddit

  3. Unstream for Twitch

  4. Wordweb dictionary (offline dictionary database, great when I turn off the Wi-Fi to force myself to concentrate)

  5. Groove for music streaming (since Spotify does not support my Xbox One)

There are much more good apps out there, and I would recommend visiting Windows Store once a week. Though there are not that many apps, good quality apps definitely exist.

Using my Surface definitely speeds up my study, and also helps reducing paper usage. The PDFs and notes are saved on the cloud and I can retrieve it on any device at any time. Using a pen is more intuitive than typing, and I can now draw graphs in my notes. I don’t need a separated calculator or script paper, which keep my bag easy to carry. Surface 3 has at least 6 hours of battery life which is sufficient.

I rarely use my keyboard. The only occasion is when I have to type long paragraphs like what I am doing now. The on-screen keyboard is not a good one, but it serves its role. I hope MS could implement the Wordflow keyboard of W10M though, it will make the typing experience way better.

In conclusion, Windows 10 can serve as a decent tablet OS, but only when you have a pen and establish your own work flow with suitable apps. Windows already has millions of apps, and most of them are NOT in the Windows Store, though the Windows Store is definitely growing.

Though I have not yet bought my EVE V, I really look forward to owning this awesome product in the near future. Just want to share some of my experiences with this awesome community, cheers! Also, Happy Lunar New Year to those who care!


Thanks for your report.
I never used a pen on a tablet (Windows or other OS) and looking forward to do so.
Sounds like it is realy usable.

I don’t think that any software will be able to read my handwriting since I barely can read it myself.
And I’m faster with my 10 fingers on the keyboard.

But the way you describe it the pen may not be useful even for me.