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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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I often manually type URLs based on what I want to do, so even just surfing the web can be a chore. Oh, and without a tabbed browser? Seriously, forget it! But hey, that's why I review notebooks and laptops rather than tablets. To me, the tablet is just a gimmick, really, almost on the level of 3D displays. Yeah, that bad. But hey, send me a tablet to play with for a month and I'll write up my experience; I'm sure it will be good for a chuckle if nothing else.... [My carpal tunnels are already flaring up just thinking about typing on a tablet for a month.] Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Oh, and as a speech recognition user, I'd love to see that somehow become more user friendly. Putting on a microphone headpiece to dictate is often inconvenient, and if you move between systems much (like I do) I often end up just typing on the keyboard. The problem with speech recognition is that it really sucks if you're in anything short of a quiet environment... plus if someone wants to talk to you you have to keep turning it off/on. Reply
  • synaesthetic - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Tablets ARE a gimmick. They're a solution looking for a problem, and the only reason the iPad is so stupid popular is because it has a half-eaten fruit on the back.

    Look at the other tablets. Nobody really cares about them. The only reason anybody cares about the Xoom is Android 3.0. Once smartphones get Honeycomb, nobody will care.
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I would disagree. To me they would be a gimmick, to fill that horrible void between pulling a smartphone out of my pocket and powering on my laptop.

    However, they are perfect for the semi-computer literate who have only the simplest requirements for computing. I purchased a Xoom for my mother in law since she has no computer and doesn't really understand them. She uses it for email, web browsing, music, books, pictures, a couple apps, and video chat with the grandkids. It is PERFECT for that target market because it can be used anywhere, has a tiny learning curve, powers on nearly instantly, and there is almost no complexity to worrry about. It just works. Tablets are perfect for that demographic, most others.....not so much.
  • acsa - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    Exactly for these purposes and people the competitive killer is in house: AIR 11". With better practicability, 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, even standing on your head, a powerful "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 any comfortable sitting or laying position.

    Special touch application is already solved in all industry and business applications.
  • Belard - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Considering that Apple has sold 17 million iPad 1 & 2 in a year... (far faster than the xbox or PS3) - your gimmick argument is thrown out the window.

    Next you'll be saying the internet is a fad.

    Look, some people need cars, other trucks - depending on their location and or business.

    For one of the companies I work for, an ipad was very instrumental for showing a product to clients to get their business. Because when showing a product on a cellphone with a 4" screen sucks. With our ThinkPads, they are too bulky, they are heavy at 4~6 lbs. Theres the boot time, shut down, sleep issues.

    Press a button, iPad is ready to go in a second and ready to work. I can selected a function and then EASILY rotate or hand the ipad to someone else in the very same way YOU can't do so with a notebook, much less a desktop computer!

    After all these years, the ipad is the first time my mother have used a browser HERSELF. (Yeah, pain the butt)

    The ipad *IS* a tablet done right. Google SHOULD get there sooner or later... but considering HOW my Android Phone works... we choose to go with iPad rather than any Android device. What we wanted today - Android doesn't deliver.

    I hope in the near future - some sort of Face-time APP will work on BOTH Android and iOS devices.
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    well I'm pretty sure 'hammerpants' sold like 12 million pairs by 1992 and none of them are around now. Just saying. Sales does not determine whether something is a fad or not. In fact, sudden adoption by high sales is a precursor to something becoming a fad.

    Yeah I'm aware of the homeless person down the street that is still wearing hammerpants...
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Let me help with the statement, just to make things clear:

    To Me, tablets are a gimmick.

    Does that help? I'm not saying there won't be lots of uses for tablets, and you can do plenty of cool things on them (and on smartphones). However, I don't really have any needs that are directly fulfilled by a tablet.

    Hey, I hate World of Warcraft too. Okay, maybe not hate, but I've played it for maybe 10-15 hours and was bored senseless. I cannot for the life of me imagine how 15 million people enjoy this game. I'm not saying 15 million people are wrong, but that whatever itch that game scratches just isn't there for me.
  • anactoraaron - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I completely agree. With the type of work I do, I am always at sports tournaments. The only people I see using tablets (namely iPads) are kids. LOL. I guess the parents got bored with it and gave it to the kids to play with. I mean seriously, I doubt these kids playing with the iPad already own a PS3, 360, Wii and DS (pick your version). That $500 spent on the kids 'toy' to use then they are away from home could go MUCH further... and I won't start in with the kid who dropped it a few feet away from me cracking the screen diagonally all the way across... Call it what you want, gimmick, fad, wasted money, whatever. They're not practical for any meaningful use. Need better typing ergonomics and great battery life? *Segue* the SNB ULV reviews!

    I would love to see a ULV SNB notebook 13-14" dual core with SMT or straight quad with 3 or 6 EU graphics cores that can turn off the graphics completely when I fire up the dedicated graphics... and get 10+ hrs "normal" battery life. That brings up an interesting situation... will Intel 'cut down' the graphics core for any ULV part to accommodate notebooks that will use dedicated graphics to increase battery life?
  • scook9 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I have always viewed tablets as simply an output device, a portal to viewing information online or in files. The input method has always been why I feel this way. Even a touch typest will not be at home typing away on a tablet like they would a real keyboard.

    We do not see this problem when using phones as we typically are only using our thumbs and not all 10 fingers at once.

    Once possible solution is perhaps having keys on the back of the tablet on the sides so when holding it, your thumbs are facing up and used to touching the screen while the remaining 8 fingers have access to the keys on the back. You could use the thumbs to toggle between 2 sets of keys for the back buttons and therefore double your options. The way I see it you would have on thumb gives 8 keys, one thumb gives 8 more, the other thumb another 8 and both thumbs yet another set of 8. That gives 32 keys which should be adequate for most typing situations.

    This would look cool and probably be impressive to someone who had mastered it as an input form but I think this would be extremely difficult to get comfortable with. It would look pretty cool though at least ;)

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