In our iPad 2 review I mentioned that despite really liking the device, I never really could integrate the original iPad into my daily life in a meaningful way. I always ended up traveling with the iPad and a notebook or while around town I just kept a smartphone on me. That limited my iPad use to pretty much lounging around at the house, and even then I found myself turning to the laptop more often than not.

With the Xoom and iPad 2 I've been giving the tablet usage model another try. I've kept my usage mostly consumption focused. Browsing the web and reading emails. I really do prefer using a tablet for both of these things. I do wish the iPad 2 was faster when selecting lots of emails but the improvement over the original iPad is still considerable.

My holdup is this: while I love reading on the iPad 2, I have troubles contributing using it. Writing lengthy email responses or even posting comments on AT is just slower on the iPad than on a notebook. The solution can't be to just walk over to a laptop when I want to respond and just use the iPad when I'm reading - that seems horrible inefficient.

I could use a Bluetooth keyboard but that's also rather clunky. I feel like there has to be a better solution going forward, particularly as the tablet market grows. Is it voice? Or some sort of an integrated kickstand with more flexibility than what you get with the smart cover?

I feel like smartphones get a pass because it's easy to type on them regardless of where you're sitting. Tablets on the other hand need to be propped up against something and as a result are harder to type on in certain situations. They work fine on a desk but if I'm at a desk I'd rather use a notebook. What about when laying back on a couch?

I'm curious what you all think about this. Am I alone in finding tablet ergonomics a barrier? If not, what do you believe is the best solution for tablets going forward. I want to read and respond on a tablet as quickly as I can on a notebook. What needs to be built? Post your comments here and I'm sure we can get many of the tablet manufacturers to pay attention. I don't think they have stumbled across the best solution for this problem either, so what you say here might go a long way in making tablets better for everyone.

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  • ianca42 - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Bring the pen back? The pen has never been in any of the new type of tablets so it can't be brought back. That being said I am typing on a hp tm2 and I must say the pen on this is quite a bit more useful than touch as far as usefulness goes. I can take notes, do math, draw, etc a lot better. I'd imagine the reason why pens aren't in these new type of tablets is because of the price of and it is an extra battery drain.

    I think in the far future the best input would be controlling tablets directly through our minds.
    Reply
  • jmelgaard - Friday, April 01, 2011 - link

    Thats not entirely true as "Hybrid Computers" as we can call them, or what was know as tablets before still has pens... E.g. the new Lenovo X220.

    The "True Tablets" has not included this as of yet though... For my work patterns I would at any time prefere the Hybrid kind.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Watch this get implemented, and someone in a coffee shop get killed by everyone who was so annoyed he/she had to dictate e-mail and bother everyone else.

    Imagine ten people dictating their notes to their iPads simultaneously at a business meeting.

    Doesn't solve the issue for people who wish for their e-mail to be private either, or who wish to use their iPad off a public library's Wi-Fi.

    If speech-recognition was a cure-all, we'd all have it on our laptops by now. It's great for the right uses, but doesn't work well across the board.
    Reply
  • fogpuppy - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Dragon already has two apps on the iPhone that support voice input. Once is Dragon Search which will do a search based on voice input. It's sort of useful but ....

    The other is Dragon Dictation that will come up with text that can be corrected and then pasted into into email or sms. It sort of works backward from what I'd like where I could invoke the voice support form an email or sms ui but ... I can use cut and paste pretty easy.

    It works pretty well but it does require a network connection because it goes to a server to do the work. Usually this is not a problem but it would be better *if* it was local but not sure that even the most current phones have enough horsepower to handle the task totally local.
    Reply
  • GTVic - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I've seen a commercial recently with two guys going nuts over a laptop powered by a smart phone docked behind the screen. The keyboard / screen is just a terminal for the phone.

    Apple has a solution for docking the iPad but it doesn't look suitable for lap use. The ZAGGmate iPad Case seems to solve that problem but I think it would be better if the iPad could just fold down like a traditional notepad lid.
    Reply
  • Connoisseur - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I believe you're referring to the Motorola Atrix 4G. I thought this was actually a great idea and maybe even a subtle game-changer. Imagine that being implemented for businesses. Employees would have a smartphone with all their documents and just plug into the dummy terminals to access all their apps. You wouldn't even have to worry about connectivity to the cloud and could do work on the go seamlessly. Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Lots of companies are already moving over to dummy terminals/thin clients these days, and lots of employees have no business use for a smartphone. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    tablet has ergonomics problem? i have been using for 5 years and how come i don't have the problem? or right. i have a REAL tablet that has a keyboard and digitizer. i do my CAD work on my tablet and also use it to take meeting notes.

    the kind of "tablet" you speaking of is nothing but media consumption tool akin to PMP. it is not meant to be productive. it is not powerful enough to run any serious program, and doesn't provide enough interface/feature to replace anything.

    i do have a toy tablet, and it work perfectly well as a media player on the plane. for anything else, i will bust out my X201 tablet.
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    How's the battery life on that thing? Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    advertised 8 hours, but realistically 6 hours.
    bear in mind it does have core i7 and 6 gb of ram with SSD, along with ultra bright IPS screen.

    you can get 8 hours if you go for ulv i5 and regular screen.

    the new X220 Tablet is go have 15 hours battery life (Engadget tested X220 and come with 14.5 hour on continuous video play, just FYI).

    so ya, the battery life is nothing short of amazing, consider anything i do on my tablet will take forever on a ipad or xoom. and consider ipad/xoom is selling for 900 dollars after all said and done, i would not think twice to spend twice of that money on something that i can use productively.
    Reply

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