Wow, did Apple get the industrial design wrong on the iPad

I’m trying to write this on an iPad, thankfully one that I didn’t buy. Like many, I was intrigued when it was first announced. I’m a fan of Apple, if not a fanboy. There was a lot I’d been hoping for in the iPad announcement, most of which I didn’t get, but I still had some hopes for the device. I didn’t have enough blind faith to pre-order one though.

I’ve been using this iPad for less than a day, so maybe my opinions will change, but I don’t know how. My primary complaints so far are not about the software or the lack of features. My primary complaint is about the form factor. It is really bad, almost unusable on it’s own.

The iPad is too heavy to be held in one hand for too long. Even if you could hold it in one hand, the keyboard is then too wide to type with and difficult to type with more than one finger at a time. If held with two hands, it is too wide to type with your thumbs (phone-style) even vertically.

Since it is too heavy to hold in your hands for too long, you need to brace it on something. If you are sitting, you have to slouch or sit in an awkward position to brace it on your knee. Right now, I am having to sit cross-legged on the couch with two pillows on my lap to prop the iPad up in a semi-comfortable position. If you are sitting at a table, the rounded back of the iPad makes it difficult to use on a flat surface.

The iPad screen itself is wonderful, but the nature of the device itself means that it will be continually covered in fingerprint smudges that have to be wiped off.

Watching a movie makes the screen quality really shine, but also showcases the poor design. If you are holding the device in landscape mode (which is the logical way for video watching), you have a problem. If you hold the device so that the home button is to the right, your hands are either resting on top of the on/off button and the speaker grill or your left hand is blocking the headphone port. If you are holding the screen with the home button on your left, you are resting the bottom of the device on the volume rocker.

I hope that Apple addresses these flaws in future version, but I really have to say that so far, the iPad is really inferior in usability to the iPhone in my experience.

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