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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  • Hemi345 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I too believe tablets were never meant for lots of data input. These devices are geared towards reading and browsing with very little text input. They're a luxury item in my opinion and should be treated as such. Apple releases a high dollar device and the people that buy it are trying to justify its expense for using it.

    If you have a lot of crap to type, a laptop or desktop is your only fast solution at this time.
  • This Guy - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    I have another solution that may feel more natural to many users

    Place two multi touch panels on opposite sides along bottom of the tablet to control a semi transperent split keyboard displayed over the two touch panels.

    Skim touching would allow the the tablet to locate the fingers and display this information over the on screen key board. A press would require the pad of the fingure to be flattened.

    Open app could be scaled so that visual data is not lost.

    Or, the split, semi transperent keyboard could be designed to be controlled by the users thumbs just like a touch phone. This removes the additional hardware requirement and an app could be developed for any platform just like swype.
  • Azethoth - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    This is actually a good idea. Bonus points for getting the GUI to go full circle back to the aka "Mother of All Demos". Engelbart actually developed an input device (@ 5 mins in the video) to use for his GUI system. iirc it eventually was a 1 handed thing with button chording used to input characters quickly.

    On the other hand it would be even more popular than the Dvorak keyboard.
  • UNHchabo - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I've never used an ipad, so keep that in mind:

    For the case where you're lying back on the couch, it seems like you just need a small redesign of the smart cover; when you fold the cover behind the ipad, the surface that's touching your lap would be a coarse fabric, to keep the thing where you want it.
  • henrikfm - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Speech recognition! Reply
  • xeopherith - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    just keep bashing apple until they stop making products without keyboards :) Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Ergonomics are definitely a barrier. However, the lighter the devices become, the more manageable and less aggravating it is.

    I think someone on Life Stacker, had a link to an invention that used a loopy fish-hook like stand, with I think a 2-parallel legs base/counterweight, that they would place behind the couch, or on one side, and you could lay down and type pretty easy. It looked attractive for couch uses. The problem was if you wanted to move it to the bed, you'd have to carry this awkward stand with you (seemingly lightweight though).

    I can't find the link, and I'm not sure what it'd do for typing efficiently, but it would be cool. Because we've grown up on ASCII keyboards, though, I'm not sure too many other devices will be as efficient, even voice recognition makes more mistakes and *can* be more time consuming.

    In the future, I'd like to see some eye-recognition software make use of the front-facing camera. Part of the benefit over typing/texting vs talking is that you have the bonus of secrecy. You have the liberty to say what you want in public, without someone listening to your conversation. Some sort of eye-recognition software may be an answer. I could see looking at words/letters and blinking/double-blinking to select :)
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Correction, it was someone off (not life stacker - I was thinking stack overflow).

    The stand is called "Hanfree" -

    Let me know what you guys think.
  • bobbozzo - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    From the pictures on their homepage, my arms and shoulders would get REALLY tired after just a few minutes use, except in the case of the girl with the guitar as that is more of a natural typing position already.

    I'd also be worried about it falling off of the couch when someone sat down or got up.
  • medys - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Flexible, slim bluetooth keyboard of the same size as a tablet. And make a nice metal leg on the back of tablet like picture frames have.. Reply

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