Apple's iPad - The AnandTech Reviewby Anand Lal Shimpi, Brian Klug & Vivek Gowri on April 7, 2010 9:39 PM EST
- Posted in
The Keyboard & Ergonomics
Apple can build touchscreen devices, I wasn't worried about that aspect of the iPad. Although surprising was the fact that the iPad's screen feels just slightly less responsive than the iPhone's. I'd say it's somewhere in between the Nexus One and the iPhone. It's possible that it's harder to build a uniformly responsive capacitive touch screen at such a large size.
What I was worried about was the keyboard. The iPhone's keyboard is difficult to adjust to but it can be done. You can hold the iPhone the same way you would a smartphone with a physical keyboard and all you lose is tactile feedback. Throw in some intelligent auto correction software and you're good to go.
This is one aspect of the iPhone experience that doesn't translate well. With the iPad you lose the tactile feedback of a physical keyboard, but you also lose the ergonomics.
The iPhone's keyboard is roughly the size of your average smartphone keyboard, but the iPad's keyboard is about 60% the size of a standard keyboard in portrait mode, and 85% in landscape. Thankfully Apple has done a good job of not scaling down key size and spacing, pulling a page from the iPhone handbook and just using different virtual keyboards depending on the app or what mode you put the keyboard in:
Default keyboard mode
Hit the .?123 key and you get this - note the undo button
Hit the #+= key and you get this - note the redo button
The iPad keyboard works just like you would expect a virtual keyboard to work. No, not like the virtual keyboards you’re used to, but instead like a virtual representation of a real keyboard. If you know how to type on a regular keyboard, you’ll quickly be able to do the same on the iPad. The keyboard learning curve is definitely flatter than on the iPhone but it still exists. Touch typing is very possible.
The problems actually have to do with the ergonomics of the device itself. Put a notebook on your lap and you rest your wrists on either side of the trackpad as your fingers drape over the keys. You can't do this on an iPad. The bottom of the keyboard is less than an inch away from the edge of the device. In this sense it’s kind of like using a tiny netbook.
For typing, the ideal position is with the iPad flat on a desk with your wrists resting on the desk as well. It's akin to writing in a notebook so it should work well for students. It's still not as comfortable as using a laptop but its passable.
Ideal typing position on the iPad
Where the ergonomics really fail is if you don't have a desk to support your wrists with. Then you've got to either hold the device with one hand and peck at it with another, or do some uncomfortable stuff with your lap.
Note what I'm doing with my thumbs, that's the only way to get the iPad to stop sliding down my legs
You can actually hold the iPad with two hands and use your thumbs to type on it like a giant smartphone. You won’t last long doing this but it’s fine for entering in web addresses, Google searches or writing a short email response. The same holds true for holding the iPad in one hand and typing with the other. It works, but isn’t suitable for long use.
With it resting on your lap you can’t lay as far back on a couch as you’d like, but you don’t have to be totally upright to use the iPad comfortably. There is a happy medium, but it’s just not quite as relaxed as I’d like it to be.
Sitting more upright is necessary
These aren’t show stoppers, but they are aspects of the device that don’t just work. The form factor is great, but when doing a lot of typing or trying to get a little too relaxed there are issues. Just like laptop usage is only comfortable in certain positions, iPad (or tablet) use is only comfortable in certain positions. The two sets of positions are just different.
Putting aside my ergonomics issues, once you figure out what works best you can actually get a lot of writing done on the iPad. In fact I wrote approximately 40% of this review on the iPad, and while my typing was slower than on my keyboard, the experience was a nice break from the traditional keyboard/mouse setup.
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dagamer34 - Friday, April 9, 2010 - linkAnyone who looks at the raw costs of materials and bases decisions of a product being "overpriced" has never taken Business 101.
I'll limit myself to 4 things which that "50-60%" pays for:
1) Running Apple stores and employees
2) Running Apple itself in Cupertino (and worldwide) - employees, board, executives, etc.
3) Apple product support for the first year (phone support, in-person support, etc.)
4) Warranties (i.e. - your iPad breaks in the first year and you complain they should fix it on their dime)
NEVER assume a company gets a "huge" profit when only looking at BOM. That's just idiotic. And it's almost impossible to know how much the points I listed above factor into a product's cost in any great detail without making huge assumptions or pure guesswork.
manicfreak - Friday, April 9, 2010 - linkDoesn't change the fact the profit gained from the iPad is higher than the iPod from the last few years.
GTaudiophile - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - linkThat is indeed one of the best episodes of TOP GEAR ever.
And then at the end, they all drive home to Sigur Ros playing in the background.
semo - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - link"There's also an optional VGA output, but I won't point out what issues I have with that."
Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - linkI was poking fun at it, I thought it was obvious what my issues with a VGA dongle would be. Especially given that Apple's own products haven't supported VGA in years, and the input is definitely not common on modern HDTVs.
It looks like the iPad is missing a TMDS as we don't get any options for digital out (HDMI, DVI, DP). I'll clarify in the article :)
PhilipHa - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - linkYou may be interested in
contains some interesting performance comparisons between x86 and ARM (but not IPAD)
pervisanathema - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - linkYou would be much wiser to wait for the inevitable widescreen version with a camera and faster CPU. I guarantee Apple has one in the works and they are simply waiting to screw the early adopters. The 4:3 aspect ratio was obviously picked solely so they would have a compelling reason to force people to buy the next revision.
dagamer34 - Friday, April 9, 2010 - linkOR 4:3 works better with books and it's the same ratio as the iPhone?
Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, April 8, 2010 - linkYou pick a heck of a time to start complaining about apple's app pricing. Of course they are going to charge an arm and a leg for apps. That's what apple does. That's ALL apple does. This device, all told, requires an over $1500 investment for 2 years.
10 Apps $120
2 years of service $720
Other accessories $50
It is a ripoff of epic proportions. It's no faster than a penium III notebook I can buy on ebay for $68. This is outrageous. Are you out of your flippin mind? The real economy is in the middle of a depression. Real private GDP is down close to 20%. By and large, the only people who are going to be able to afford this overpriced garbage are people sucking off the government teat. (Like union trash collectors and station agents who make 6 figure salaries.) Nobody who actually works for a living in the private sector is going to spend $1500 on something like this, not if they wish to remain solvent anyway.
strikeback03 - Friday, April 9, 2010 - linkUmm, your numbers are slightly off. There is no service fee for the WiFi-only $500 iPad. The 3G version starts at $630.
Besides that though, I know plenty of people who have the disposable income to buy a toy like this of they wished. Sure it is overpriced, but just as there are consumers who pay $500 and up for video cards ther are some who pay $600-700 for expensive toys like this. It is arguably a better use of money than that $800 netbook Sony came out with last year.