Jan 052013

Historically, I have rarely traveled.  My primary computer is a 17 inch MacBook Pro which I view as a transportable desktop.  It has historically served me well.

Just over a month ago, I started a new job that requires me to travel some.  As I write this, I am in Europe.  Before I left I was trying to figure out what computer I would use on the flight.  I know up front that a 17″ laptop, coach seats and me are not, as a combination, compatible.

While I love the iPad for consuming information, the on-screen keyboard and I have a love/hate relationship.  I’ll use it for short items, but I’ll fall back to my laptop if I have to write more than a few sentences.

So, I decided to to try a bluetooth keyboard with my iPad. The battery life of both the iPad and the keyboard are definitely sufficient for long flights. I selected the Logitech keyboard primarily for its intelligent use of magnets.

My one gripe about the keyboard.  It is slightly smaller than a standard keyboard.  It is much, much better than the netbook keyboards I have used in the past, but that slight size difference does take a bit of adjusting to get use to. (I am a touch typist.)   Don’t get me wrong… It is a great keyboard.  I have yet to want to throw it out the window like I typically want to after five minutes of trying to deal with a netbook keyboard.   This posting is being written on my iPad with the Logitech keyboard.

Okay, so that is the negative…. Now to the positives. This experience has significantly changed my thoughts on the usability of such a configuration.  I have always been skeptical of touch screens  along side keyboards because of the distance between the hands and the screen, and the position of the screen.  With this class of iPad keyboards, the screen and the keyboard are in very close proximity.  Reaching up to touch the display is natural. I want to use the word “intimate” to describe the experience.  There is something about that close proximity that changes the feel of the experience.  I find this environment extremely compelling and I look forward to using it more.

Will it replace my laptop?  No.  I am one of these people who tend to have a number of application windows open, side by side when I work.  The iPad does not have the screen real estate to handle that.   My vision is such that high pixel densities are not the answer.  I prefer large quantities of screen.  On my laptop, I frequently use it with an external display.

But, I believe I will be using my iPad for more things thanks to the addition of the keyboard.

I now would love to see Apple, or someone, manufacture a version of Apple’s standard bluetooth keyboard with a slot to hold the iPad in a landscape orientation similar to the way  the Logitech works.  That would overcome the keyboard size issue.  But for there to be a standard full size keyboard, the keyboard will have to be wider than the iPad, so the case aspect of the keyboard would change some, making the combined unit slight taller.  Who knows…. There are a lot of creative minds out there.  Maybe someone will solve that problem.  Time will tell.

 Posted by at 1:30 am

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