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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  • jeremypeake - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    The smart cover is awesome, I think you take the smart cover one step further and design a foldable Bluetooth keyboard into the Smart Cover. So for light use, just stick with the on-screen keyboard. For heavier typing, use the foldable cover/keyboard.

    It would have to stay pretty much the same size and weight as the current smart cover. I wouldn't want it much bulkier.

    I think it could be done. The keys would have to be super thin, but even just a little tactile feedback would greatly improve the typing experience.
  • Ken g6 - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    The idea of the smart cover is a simple, but very functional, non-electronic component. Why not apply that to typing?

    Give the cover little chiclets that, when you push them, move enough conductive material close enough to the iPad screen that it acts like a stylus. Put them in positions mapping to the on-screen keyboard. Stick the thing on there with the magnets. Finally, for a nice extra touch, the other side of the cover can fold under the iPad and have two beveled edges meet to form a kickstand. (Or something.)
  • punjabiplaya - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Speech is pretty good, but what about direct neural input? Reply
  • HMTK - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Cyberpunkk :-) Yeah, DNI sounds nice. Problem is Apple will want to use Firewire while everyone else will try USB... Reply
  • Azethoth - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    Lol 90's guy. This is 2011, we use Light Peak! Reply
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I think that would be the best solution. Have the keyboard double as a nice cover that doubles as a keyboard. And have the tablet with a built in prop tool. I think that would be the best solution. Reply
  • saiku - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    umm...this would be a netbook pretty much then (but for the fact that it is running a touchscreen)? Reply
  • Dorkington - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Yes, I know, you said you don't like that option... but simply put, I think a BT keyboard is the best option for heavy text input.

    Now, it doesn't have to be clunky, I think the ZAGGmate keyboard for the iPad, and the ASUS Transformer prove that you can have a simple and sleek solution that you don't need to have all the time.

    I have a ZAGGmate keyboard, and love it. I lounge on the couch, doing my normal browsing, reading, etc generally in portrait mode. If I have a long email, I grab the ZAGGmate keyboard (I keep it in the same bag/location), and set about typing like I would if I were on a laptop.

    I think the flexibility of such a format is incredibly handy, personally.
  • MrRogers777 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    By putting a trackpad on the back, you eliminate the problem with a giant finger covering what you want to manipulate, while retaining the hand-eye coordination that allows a mouse to be successful. The dustcover keyboard shouldn't be the primary interface, but would allow more complex input without a requiring another gadget. Reply
  • oligarch - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I've always felt that a keyboard on the back is the way to go.
    Sure it would take quite a bit of learning time but once you've
    got it, it should be super efficient.
    This could be good for smartphones too, that's why I think the
    Dell Streak form factor has a future: by my (very basic) test it is
    just big enough to make this kind of interface work.

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