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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  • Jkm3141 - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    build a bluetooth keyboard, into a foldable cover. Reply
  • Grandpa - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    I certainly understand your valid complaint about the iPad. I believe the iPad was never intended to replace a notebook or a computer. Apple is probably working on an answer to this issue. It's possible the MacBook will someday replace the iPad. Just swing the screen around and enable the touchscreen and you have an iPad. Otherwise, you have a laptop. Now all we need is for Apple to do it. Reply
  • Dave2009 - Friday, April 1, 2011 - link

    This has Probably been mentioned already but a handwriting interface could be used. On PDAs and early smart phones using a stylus was less than ideal cause the screen was small and it felt like you were scratching away at a post it note, but if they made a nice stylus with a soft tip so it felt like writing on a small white board I think it could work quite well.
    If the stylus was attached to a cord that pulled out and then retracted when you put the stylus back in it's slot that would be cool, I'm not saying not to keep the same level of finger friendliness but if it was integrated nicely it could work
  • kasakka - Friday, April 1, 2011 - link

    The only good solution is going to be haptic feedback. This is already in development at Nokia and several other companies. It allows you to type on a virtual keyboard but also feel the keys. I think some implementations used electric charges or some sort of flexible display with pads underneath that move according to what is shown on screen.

    The problem right now isn't the size of the screen but simply the lack of feel.
  • quickbunnie - Friday, April 1, 2011 - link

    The solution is a lot simpler than you might think - it's basically just laptops, or a slider conversion of one. Netbooks, the Macbook Air, and tablets are converging in size. Netbooks are underpowered for full laptops, have terrible LCDs, and slow hard drives, but have a standard keyboard and touchpad.
    Tablets operate on the touchscreen interface, but I think the big difference is simply the OS they use. Both Honeycomb and iOS are designed to be basically very quick and efficient doing low levels tasks. Low level tasks just happen to be a majority of what we do on laptops anyways.
    Notebooks more than enough power, they just need a high quality display and somebody to convert the "faster" tablet OS to run on notebook hardware.

    My ideal tablet would be somewhat like the HTC Arrive, but in tablet form. A low profile keyboard paired with a sliding screen that tilted. Hardware would all be basically tablet, plus keyboard. Given how thin the iPad2 and upcoming Galaxy Tab's are, I imagine they can still keep this under a half inch, which would me my target. On a 10" tablet, that's basically a full sized keyboard. I'm just waiting for decent quality tablet like this and I would jump all over it.
  • acsa - Saturday, April 2, 2011 - link

    The competitive killer of iPad is in house: AIR 11". For anti-tech consumers, too. With better practicability, significantly faster, more compatible, much longer product life, conclusively on the long term cheaper. And in most cases the main PC can be skipped. Again a lot of money and fussle. In any home or travel situation and application, even standing on your head, a powerful quality "netbook" is the best solution. The weight is maybe important for a 3y old child... And a tablet is in practice "heavier", than an Air, since you have to hold it in your hand in any comfortable sitting or laying position.

    Special touch application is already solved in all industry and business branches. iPad is a bonus for them but not revolutional.
  • Colin1497 - Friday, April 1, 2011 - link

    You already figured out the right answer: use your notebook. I carry a Portege R500 (yeah, I know, upgrade time...) and can't figure out why I would ever carry an iPad. The iPad is fine lounging around reading stuff, or watching videos, but beyond that it's just the wrong device for most things. For traveling, the sub-2.5 lb notebook is great. Reply
  • acsa - Saturday, April 2, 2011 - link

    I will consider for reading and watching a 10" tablet if it is 0.5lb. E.g. solved with a printed display. A heavier printed book is only usable only because I turn over a pages regularly. Reply
  • - Friday, April 1, 2011 - link

    Come on, Anand... You spend 6 paragraphs confessing that iPad (or any other modern tablet, for that matter) is, at the end of the day, useless. And then you ask us what could be done to take care of the input problem (thus rending it useful)?

    Easy: get rid of it. You have that other 'iPad' at home, you use it so often: a full-blown notebook.

    I think the formula is simple: Think of a notebook (or even netbook) and take out the keyboard. There! You've got yourself an iPad.

    'Well, my iPad feels useless, I now need a keyboard and a mouse on it. Bang! My notebook is back.'

    The point is: tablets are useless.

    They really are. They're too big to be truly portable, and too handicaped to be a notebook.
  • blackcrayon - Saturday, April 2, 2011 - link

    "Think of a notebook (or even netbook) and take out the keyboard. There! You've got yourself an iPad."

    I guess most notebooks have capacitive multitouch screens, eh?

    Calling tablets "useless" in general is a thoroughly "useless" conclusion. You really think they have *no* use at all? There are lots of things that can be done on a tablet that are either impossible or a pain to use any netbook for. Try something like the touch Garageband on a notebook. Hmm, wouldn't exactly work with mouse. Try reading documents in portrait mode on a notebook. Nope, that's not going to work either. Try getting 10 hours of battery life on something less than 1.5 pounds- that's going to be a hard one as well.

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