Sunday, January 31, 2010

iPAD: ergonomic disaster – end of story

Forget the functionality and the fact that it doesn’t have a USB or webcam it’s just the wrong shape. No consumer device can withstand ergonomic failure. It's just too awkward to use, hold and store.

1. Pain in the neck. When I’m writing (typing) do I lie it flat on a table and peer at an acute angle at the text? You can’t hold the damn thing and type. Wait for the neck pain and eye strain.

2. No feeling. Most writers prefer the haptic feel of a keyboard.

3. Touchscreens error prone. Research from the University of Glasgow Scotland [Brewster, Chohan, and Brown 2007] demonstrates that sample users reduce input errors (20%), increase input speed (20%), and lower their cognitive load (40%) when touchscreens are combined with haptics or tactile feedback.

4. Thumbs useless. For texting it doesn’t have that two-thumbs convenience.

5. Gamers like control. Most gamers like cognitively ergonomically designed controllers, not touchscreen.

6. Won't stand up. When I watch a movie do I have to hold it up for 2 hours or prop it up on its thin shiny strip of a base? Can’t see me using this on a train or plane. A laptop or netbook has a screen that can be tilted on a hinged base – perfect. Or you carry the iPAD 'dock' around!

7. Armpit? Do I need something this big to listen to music? Do I hold it under my armpit as I walk or run?

8. Awkward e-book. For reading I can hold a book in one hand as it’s a shallow V shape, even drop it. Flat devices are awkward for holding and reading.

9. Condom storage. When I put it away I’ll have to sleeve it to protect the screen. That’s a pain.

10. Forgotten the tablet? We’ve been through this with the PC tablet, which was a dog for all of the above reasons.

Ergonomically, it’s worse than an iPHONE or iTOUCH as it’s too big, literally a designer who wanted to PAD out an iPHONE. Ergonomically, it’s worse than a netbook or laptop because it’s flat. Too big to hold comfortably, too flat for work, too awkward to store. Ergonomically, it’s all wrong.

PS Love this rude spoof


Anonymous said...

So you've written the iPad off as an 'ergonomic disaster - end of story' on the basis of some extremely spurious use cases having not had any hands on time with the unit? Reads like an Argus article.

Donald Clark said...

Love these snidy, little comments from 'anonymous' Brighton folks. So 'new media' that they have to hide behind the media!

In fact, I based some of these arguments on commentary from ergonomic web sites. Other observations are obvious and I do not need to hold the device to prove them i.e. size, flatness, need for a sleeve. I have also held and used a PCtablet.

If you have anything else to offer - like an argument - then comment again. You do sound like an Argus reader!

Lee Kraus said...

Wondering if you will buy one?

Donald Clark said...

Never actually bought an Apple product in my life, but loved iPODS. In fact, I got rid of most Apple stuff in the company I ran as it was awkward to network and prohibitively expensive.

Cynthia Davis said...

We are in complete agreement Donald. Our recent post "This Apple Has a Few Worms" really ticked off some Apple fans (and candidly, I counted myself among them - I love my iPhone).

checkout our blog post

Lee Kraus said...

Very good, so the ergonimc disaster won't be an issue for you. I appreciate critical thinking and alternative views, but I am going to probably have to get one to see for myself. I also love my iPod and iPhone and hope that the iPad becomes just as compelling. If it is as fast as reported, I think it will be.

Donald Clark said...

We seem to be in agreement. Spot on with the wrist and neck stuff.

jay said...

Donald, I love the YouTube spoof.

My inner marketing guy tells me your objections miss the point. Apple didn't create the iPad for you. Geez, you have never bought Apple products?

No, the target market is couch potatoes who don't type much. The iPad is probably a great way to read the news. It beats carrying around a backpack full of textbooks, too.

Your problems with it are that it doesn't measure up as a laptop. Think of it more as a portable TV. Guys can watch porn on it; girls can chat with pals or watch soaps. I'd better stop here....

Ian said...

Really Donald - usually you talk good sense but this time you have lost it. What I know is that, ergonomically, the interface with the iPhone is much, much, better than it's predecessors: mice, tablets whatever. I will welcome the opportunity to get access to millions of pages of published material every month without having to go out in the rain to find a big enough newsagent. Let's have this argument this time next year when we actually know what we are talking about.

Garry Platt said...

What I can't understand is why you'd spend millions in design and production development and then invest your organisation’s reputation in a device that frankly isn’t that innovative, but on top of this go and give it the name Apple iPad, which sounds like a feminine hygiene product.

Donald Clark said...

Good, perceptive points, as usual. You may be right here if it redefines this sit back and watch, consumer, YouTube view of teh web, but I don't know any demographic that doesn't type on the web. Whether its email, messenger, Facebook, blogs etc etc - it's text input that has driven many of the more exciting aspects of user created content. I may be missing a demographic that fits your description, but it ain't me, my kids, college students, employees - what's left?

As for never buying an Apple product, you know me. I don't like consumer driven narratives and Apple seems to be a status driven marketing company. I was hugely influenced on tis by a book called @Spent' by Geoffry Miller, a rather smart evolutionary psychologist.

Donald Clark said...

My 10 points weren't addressed to the interface,but the physical shape of the device. All apart from the 'typing on touchscreen' issue - which is interesting.See my reply to Jay. My 16 year old has just bought a Blackberry because he wants to txt, Facebook, MSN etc. faster and with fewer errors. So even on the interface front, I have my doubts.

Neverminda said...

Maybe the Ipad is an ergonomic disaster but surely it's also how the individual chooses to use it?

I am a tall skinny bloke who has been using computers for the past 20 years. I have suffered with CTS and a bad back all my life. I have adjusted the height of my monitor, chair and table for the perfect ergonomic posture and it is has improved. But I have come to the conclusion that due to my poor posture I am the ergonomic disaster and not my computer.

I found this post on my phone but chose to walk up the stairs and type it on my desktop, would I have typed it on an Ipad? Time will tell.

On a side note, I love being able to draw with my finger on the Iphone, for that reason alone I would love to try the bigger Ipad.

Anonymous said...

1.Macbooks or iMacs are not gaming machines, so why would the ipad be any different.

2. As i said before, it has 2 USB port, at least.

3. It has a stand.

4. You can use a wireless keyboard (available from £10 to £900) to type if you need to 'feel the keys'.

5.Why would you use a iPad for texing when you have a phone for that.

6. Touchscreens are error prone?! You use a 2007 study to prove this fact. The iphone has been updated since then and we are now 3 years further down the line in technology. Is the iPhone touchscreen error prone. No.

7. Tablets weren't a failure. My brother is a Tattoo artist and it is the mutt's nuts for him!

Only one thing that i do think is bad about this product is that Apple should have gone with an OS of the look of OS X but made specifically for touchscreens. then there would be the capabilities of multitasking, etc.

Also, the price is a little high, although that has always been the case with Apple!

Anonymous said...

May i just add to my last post (the latest anonymous post) that i misread the USB. There is none, which is extremely poor...

Paul Angileri said...

I for one am not so much concerned with the ergonomics and I am the feature set right now. No multi-tasking (having multiple apps open) is a huge miss, especially when Palm is doing it with their Pre. The other huge miss is the lack of telecommunications for voice (hello, put in Bluetooth for headsets?).

So as it stands, without having touched one, I don't get it. It's a bigger, faster-processing iPhone that can show movies on the latest display technology in a relatively small package, but without voice and pocketability.

But, if anyone can make these things popular it's Apple, and likely there will be plenty of early adopters, who then make the second generation model significantly better in most ways.

So, for me, I'll wait for the sequel.

Donald Clark said...

I don't get it either. A few may watch movies but it has so many feature defecits that I can't see it's utility.

It seems like a boomer, sit back and watch product, not a user driven content device.

Andy Tedd said...

It's not a high status brand aspirational thing - it's a cult milking the cult members for every penny they can get out of them.

You can own one ipod without becoming a fully paid up member - any more and you are at risk.

Donald Clark said...

Apple's always had this 'cult' feel. But they're only as good as their next product. IPAD feels like a sad old tablemat of a product to me. Even those who like Apples will be hard pressed to whip this out on the train - I think I'd laugh!

ergonut said...

The iPad is beautiful and does a lot of cool things, but I agree, it’s an ergonomic disaster. Remember the “Blackberry Thumbs” of the 90’s? We might be on the verge of a new medical diagnosis — the “iHurt.”

Visit to read what I find problematic with it.

In the end, the iPad might boost the economy in an unexpected way: My bet is that it’s going to be a good source of referral for Physical Therapists, Hand Therapists and Chiropractors around the world.

savingstips said...

The iPad Pedestal Base makes my iPad work much better. It also enhances the look with the acrylic construction. Read about it at MacWorld

Anonymous said...

If you break it down logically theres no person alive that needs an ipad. It's a POS in every way. Don't think so? Think of any category for buying a portable device. Now, put the ipad up against the competition in any category. Does the ipad win once? Not a chance. You know why? Because theres no use for the ipad. With smartphones and other portable devices and netbooks/laptops, theres no reason to buy this junk. Oh and the iPad will cost you more than basically any competing product. Funny how a device can be too big as a portable device, too weak and poorly designed as a portable computer, cost 10 times more and still outsell the competition. Apply sure is lucky so many people are so very dumb.

Mike Miller said...

Donald, check out these pictures:
I think this solves at least 3 of the problems in your list.

Anonymous said...

RE:iPAD: ergonomic disaster – end of story

I have IPAD first generation and I bought for the intention of short time use and not a replacement for full ergonomic laptop. To label it as
ergonomic disaster is totally misleading.It depends on how much you use it and how often.