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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  • araczynski - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    its a consumption device, not a contribution device. more or less what the industry wants out of consumers in general. especially apple.

    surf, email, browse stuff, play games. personally i use it to play games, do light surfing, work google apps stuff.

    i find it funny that everyone automatically assumes that every devicew they have should somehow expand their capabilities to contribute.

    as if everyone in the world automatically gives a crap about everyone else's opinions/etc.

    just because you can type/post something, doesn't mean you should.

    case in point this reply :)

    if i was reading this on the ipad, i'd read the article, ignore, move on, and not lose any sleep over it. since i'm on the computer, i'll waste the time to reply :)
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Well then, what does that say about the future of the rather niche tablet market? Where is the growth? If it remains simply a consumption device ad infinitum, there will be no growth and it will eventually fade away.

    There has to be a next level in the eyes of the hardware manufacturers.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    But what about emails? Am I really supposed to read emails on one device and switch to another to respond?

    The usage model I'm talking about here isn't too contribution oriented. Just posting comments on a website or perhaps a review on yelp? And responding to emails doesn't seem to be that absurd.

    I feel like the consumption experience on a tablet is awesome. Reading emails on an iPad is great, I just feel like there's room for innovation in the input department. As far as what form that innovation takes, I'm not entirely sure.

    Take care,
  • claytontullos - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Anand - there are several keyboard cases available for the ipad that double as a stand.

    See for ipad 1 case. For ipad 2 case (unreleased)

    A perfectly reasonable response is why not just use my laptop? I can't give you a good answer.
    Any ipad + keyboard setup will be about as big as a standard netbook.

    I think the ipad serves a large section of the public of which we are not members. People who only consume content and who only write the occasional short email.

    Anand for the sake of argument would you use the ipad more if you didn't have a laptop? A large (though shrinking segment) percentage of public do not own a laptop. I think you would use the ipad if you didn't have a laptop.

    Heck before 2008 I didn't own a laptop because of mobile performance.
  • araczynski - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - link

    i did mention emails. i meant this shouldn't be used for creating heavy stuff like powerpoints/photoshop/long word documents/cad/engineering/etc. sketches/email/blabbing on facebook/twitter occasionally/etc.

    if you want to extend that, then yeah, put it in a keyboard dock and type away.
  • zoogoober - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Imagine a tablet without a native screen. Just a portable keyboard with all the guts underneath. On one end of the device place a short throw pico projector that can either display onto a foldaway case that was used to protect the device, or simply onto a wall directly in front of it?

    I know the above is a bit off topic, but I imagine that there are two markets here...
    People who simply consume more than they produce with the device.
    People who produce/create more than they consume.

    I tend to believe that tablets are more for the former than the latter.
  • UrQuan3 - Thursday, March 31, 2011 - link

    That is an interesting idea. When I started reading, I thought you were going to suggest that the keyboard have an HDMI jack. I guess it still could. Projectors don't work too well in bright areas. Reply
  • karnovaran - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    I recommend you try out Thumb Keyboard for Android. It has varying layouts for both portrait and landscape mode, which you can preset to your liking. I use my Nook Color quite comfortably in both orientations with the 7" tablet presets. Reply
  • mschnee - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    "Computer, begin recording message. My dearest Scarlet..." Reply
  • HangFire - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    Once you change your mindset, the iPad[12] is awesome. Your problem is you're stuck on the idea of typing. It probably has root in some old-fashioned concepts on journalism stuck in your head. Get with it. The Ipad has a camera, that's the only content creation device it has and all it needs. For interaction, simply limit yourself to the following, which are all that is needed for any iPad user:

    Check this out <link to your video or some other content>
    U S***
    Oh S***

    That's it. All internet interaction can be reduced to that, for which the built-in text input is sufficient. Instead of focusing on word based content creation, you need to either be very good looking (and wear a low-cut blouse), or do something funny and stupid while drunk.

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