New Year’s Resolution: no long-winded opining on devices until I’ve used them with my own two hands.

17Jan11

After lusting after an iPad for most of 2010 (and blowing various brain-farts about this or that aspect of it), I’ve had one in the house for about a week (borrowed from a client) and … dang. I just don’t want one of these things anymore.

The awesome things about it are still awesome. It’s sexy as all git-out. I want to use it all day, every day. But I don’t… because the thing is

  • too damn heavy. Just seriously, too damn heavy.

That’s the one attribute that kind of outshines all the others, unfortunately. My right thumb got some scary pre-carpal-tunnel feeling from scrolling while holding it with two hands in what I thought was a comfortable position. If the iPad’s weight was not fully supported by something other than my two hands, I just couldn’t use it for more than a few minutes. Casual surfing/tweeting/anything-ing (even reading long articles) on my tiny phone was much more comfortable.

Unless the next version is significantly lighter, I can’t see myself buying one.

One other thing I was wrong about: turns out that replacing the tiny Home Button with a “big” multitouch gesture makes a lot of sense on a device this size. On a small phone, though, I maintain that dropping this basic piece of haptic/tactile functionality seems dumb (because it turns a simple, one-digit/one-hand, no-look action into a multi-finger/multi-hand, requires-looking-right-at-the-screen action).

Key word there being “seems” — but I feel pretty secure in that judgment based on my experience using an iPod Touch, which already frustrated me greatly by forcing me to use two-hand/look-right-at-it gestures to do simple things like skip forward or backward in my music library, which I could not do without stopping everything else I was doing at the time (like walking down the street) and focusing on the device. No such problems with the olde-tyme physical click-wheel, which was as near to a perfect user-interface-to-use-case match I’m likely to see in my lifetime.

Touch may be the future, but it’s got its limits.



3 Responses to “New Year’s Resolution: no long-winded opining on devices until I’ve used them with my own two hands.”

  1. I suspected as much when I got my Kindle and thought “hmmm, this is about as big a device as I want to hold for an extended period, and oddly, for some purposes I prefer holding the iphone (which is easier to navigate with one hand).”

    Of course, I am such a luddite that my primary criterion for a tablet device is that it be able to take me *away* from the internet…

  2. hmmm, I guess I handle my iPad different…. I haven’t noticed the weight being an issue, but I don’t think I hold the device up in the air really. I usually have it on my lap or something. I know I am not holding it, as I often 2 hand type on it, and obviously that isn’t happening if I am holding it.

    Perhaps you are taking the comparison to a phone too far? You really wouldn’t set a phone in your lap to use necessarily, but you wouldn’t hold a laptop in the air either.

    My iPad still gets significant use in my family. My sister just borrowed it on a recent 2 week trip to vietnam. My kids play games on it all the time. I plow through google reader and play games on it daily.

    • I guess I’m realizing there’s no point in proclaiming “This is a terrible device!” or “This is a perfect device!” anymore, especially with these multi- or ambiguous-use gadgets. There’s just: “does it work for me, in the use-cases *I* naturally put it in?” For me, as much as I tried to talk myself out of it, the answer RE the iPad was a definite “no”. It’s not about my trying to use it too much like a phone, or thinking about what the ideal use-case was at all… for once, I just plain used it. And it was a pain. (literally) [shrug] Obviously many, many people don’t have trouble with it. Personally, I need a lighter model.

      That said, the one, very specific use case I did find it wonderful in was when I was stuck in the doctor’s waiting room and I sort of laid it half on my crossed-leg. But around the house (where I thought I would love it), its ergonomics were always slightly but significantly off.



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