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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  • Belard - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - link

    So Anand.... I brought up this conversation with another iPad user (gee, I think I notice them more) about your problem and my recommendation.

    He agreed, just leave it in your living room.

    I also wanted to post whats up at this moment.
    I have my Windows7 desktop with a nice 24" LCD monitor, etc. Been doing work much of this afternoon. I felt like relaxing for a while... I lean back, prop my legs on the desk - pull out the iPad and propped it on thigh and did some casual browsing on your site.

    Unlike ANY desktop, notebook or netbook. It can be held like a book. I charge it once a week or so - unlike my notebook which spends most of its time on AC. it requires less effort to read websites - simple zooms when I need to. I can easily bring it with me to other rooms... easy to flip it to show my son something.

    ah... invest in a $3 book of Zeiss wipes (50). I may use one a week. It works long enough to wipe clean the iPad, my phone and my fingers. When doing business with the iPad, I'd wipe my fingers with it (fast enough that nobody notices) which allows me to use the iPad without leaving little to no finger traces on the screen. :)

    We are already starting to see operations like from the Avatar movie - in which a person can grab data from a computer and move it to a tablet device with a swipe from the hand. (HP's WebOS does this between the upcoming HP phone and tablet by touching the devices)

    [No, this was not typed in from my iPad]
  • dionicio - Saturday, April 16, 2011 - link

    On software. Games are the most usefull paradox for tablets.
    So let us experiment with letter, syllabe or word hitting games.

    Predictive algoritms, profiles up on my mailbox,
    useable anywhere.

    On hardware. Remember ·3D mouses?
    wireless, inside a soft and relaxing massage ball.

    This sound fun
  • madhatter61 - Sunday, April 17, 2011 - link

    Smart Pen from Livescribe has a innovative pen that writes on special paper with a special pattern of tiny dots on the paper. The pen can be used for sketching and the output is completely digital. The pen also has solidstate storage and a built in voice recording capability.

    The microphone is highly directional so as to tend to block extraneous background sounds. If this could be combined as an App to use the ipad display as the special paper with dots does, then perhaps the Smart Pen becomes the new interface.

    There could be some technical issues ... I don't know if the laser pick up sensor will work with an LCD display. The pen interfaces a computer for sync and data transfer via USB 2.0. If iOS5 will enable data (like Photos) via the USB photo adapter, then the iPads could have a new way to input. So dictation rather than typing becomes the way. If this can be teamed with Dragon Speak for conversion to word processing, then your finished articles to happen fast and efficiently.

    On the other hand the voice recorder section could input via the standard TRP audio port.

    Food for thought.
  • effects - Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - link

    Kensington KeyFolio Bluetooth Keyboard and Case for iPad Wireless Keyboard. It seems to work really well and might be just what you are looking for. Reply
  • Beej2020 - Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - link

    Thank goodness Project Origami had the spheres to crack this tablet nut back in 2006.
    I had no idea it would prove so challenging to move that ball any further.

    A Samsung Q1 Ultra from that wave has carried me pretty far... it runs Windows 7 like a champ... i'm stunned how unchallenged those specs are 4 years later ... every year i keep expecting it to be clobbered but still nothing hits all the points any better... in the meantime, i had to wait out the netbook wave taking all the attention away from evolving the tablet... finally Apple legitimized the space... but the dang vendors (including Apple) have been like a room full of monkeys throwing darts at my particular usage scenarios.

    To cut to it, the place where my wants/needs/desires converge into a tablet are:
    - an eReader
    - a bicycle GPS

    yep, not a whole lot of human input going on there... so i've got nothing creative to say about how to solve the iPad2's input dilemma... i still use a comfy desktop keyboard for that junk... i'm not a road warrior... that's why i say, understanding specialized personal usage scenarios is key...

    so maybe my needs are esoteric and there's never going to be enough market for the vendors to show me love... but i just can't help but wonder how many "fragmented markets" there are similar to me waiting to be captured by the right device... and really, we are dancing around it so close with so many different unit, why the heck not just round out the shotgun blast approach ... these are the specs that would finally get me off the fence and into another unit:

    Right off the top, I'll admit, the Samsung Galaxy Tab nails my list pretty well... but other shipping device specs make me just jealous enough to turn my nose at the SGT and hope for better.

    * 7" screen - i just don't think i can handle staring at anything smaller while reading/riding... 7" is great for reading a full page of text and looking at a map while bouncing down the road... so i don't want to deal with carrying around anything bigger.... Steve Jobs is just plain wrong that 10" tablets are the only thing worth doing

    * 1024 x 600 resolution - it's really easy to find cheap Chinese knockoffs running 800 x 480 @ 7" but everything with higher res is also double the weight due to larger screen

    * 0.75lbs = 340g - iPad 2 is the current thickness champ at 8.8mm but it's 1.3lbs... that's nearly what my current old school tablet weighs... obviously amazing what Apple has accomplished given that much more screen weight but i don't think it's for me

    * 12mm = 0.47 inch thick

    * 3G is sort of the dividing line between cheap and not so much ... e.g. Samsung Galaxy Tab (with and without 3G)

    * capable of running Garmin Topo maps - where i'm at in Germany is just awesome for cycle mapping.... there are other vendors but Garmin is just that go-to sweet spot... unfortunately they have zero interest in running their higher end trail mapping products on anything but their locked down devices ... they're obviously paranoid given that they did actually launch an Android solution but only on specific co-branded Asus Android smart phones ... so the best thing i've cobbled together so far is a dead end Windows based solution ... it's pretty clunky by today's mobile interface standards ... if an Android device finally hits all the other points i'm prepared to drop down to OpenStreetMaps and ween myself off of Garmin.

    * 1GHz sounds nice
    * dual core sounds nice :)

    * Android 3.0 - this is finally the Android version that's supposedly designed with tablets in mind... i'm probably more of an Android kind of guy but that could change with the wind

    * Can we get down to $350 for an unlocked 3G tablet?

    (sigh) hopefully some day
  • kevith - Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - link

    Couldn't you make a pad with a lid?

    And - like some phones - have a screen on the outside for pad-use, where you could use swype or normal-style touch-screen input.

    And then you could open it like a normal notebook and have a normal screen and keyboard on the inside for more demanding work.
  • pawel d - Monday, October 10, 2011 - link

    Recently I was checking components to build my HTPC. It was to play music and occasionally some avi movies. All quotations ends over 2000 dollars and yet there could be lot of troubles to make this fanless and working under Linux. In this connection I was thinking to turn my old Compal EL80 into HTPC (in custom made wooden or stone case). The only problem was to set up touch screen based on original one from Compal. Then I have got brilliant idea to use tablet with some kind of docking station as HTPC. Docking station would have SSD for my music collection and good music card to connect to amplifier. Both would talk each other via USB. Such a construction should cost less than 500 dollars which with tablet makes just under 1000. There is no need for fast computing as this is to serve as ultimate music set with video futures and everything the tablet offers already.
    Best regards, Pawel

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