Apple launched the first TV spot for the iPad last night during the Oscars. For the most part, the video appears to show an oversized iPod that’s a bit zippier, and better suited to reading books and newspapers due to its large display.

But here’s one thing you may not notice unless you pay extra close attention: Almost every shot of a person actually using the iPad shows legs contorted into unusual positions. Because while you can hold an iPod in one hand and poke at the screen with the other, the iPad is really just too big to use this way. So Apple is suggesting you prop it up on your legs — and that makes it all but useless if you’re sitting in a normal position.

If you place a notebook computer on your lap, you can still see the screen because the keyboard rests on your legs and the screen extends upward. When you put a slate PC like the iPad on your lap, the screen is where the keyboard would normally be. You’d have to bend over awkwardly and incur neck and back pain to use it like this.

Instead, you’re going to have to get a foot stool, prop our feet up on it, bend your legs, and then slouch back in your chair while using the iPad.

OK, presumably there may be some other comfortable positions. This thing’s probably going to be great for reading books in bed, for instance. But it’s clearly not meant for setting on a table or on your lap the way you would with a laptop computer.

Video after the break.

via TUAW

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28 replies on “First iPad commercial shows how awkward this thing will be to hold”

  1. the ipad has an ips screen, which means the view angles are almost 180 °, so you can view it at almost any angle

  2. Yes, but you forget that if you are blessed enough to use a fruit logoed product, you are at one with the universe and ahve the limberness of a yoga devotee probably from trying to smell your own farts.

    I am still not sure where a slate will be more useful to me than a netbook. If I dont have it on my knees on the train or at some kids practice, the netbook is usually on some table, kitchen counter or night stand.

  3. I like to lay on the couch and have my laptop on my belly. I can sit back and watch whatever video and read whatever ridiculous reviews. At any point I can sit my netbook up and type away. If I had an Ipad It would be very hard to do these tasks. These are the tasks I need to be able to do.

    I must say I would love a convertible tablet and as soon as one is made I like I will buy it. I really do think an Apple Convertible tablet would have been a HOMERUN. I dont understand why Apple handicapped themselves by making such a small niche product.

    Netbook companies spent all last year refining their products. Every month or 2 an updated product came out. All Apple had to do was perfect what was already researched by 20 other companies to be best selling designs. Add a touch screen an Apple Logo and Bob’s Your Uncle.

    1. There have been plenty of tablets and convertible tablets released during the last 10-15 years. All of them failed to gain traction with the mainstream. If Apple were to produce a convertible tablet, everyone would be complaining that Apple was simply expecting people to buy it because of the Apple name…pointing to previously failed Windows-based offers as proof.

      When netbooks were first introduced there were those complaining that they were nothing more than underpowered notebooks but smaller. They claimed that netbooks would fail to gain any traction… they were wrong.

      Now people are complaining that the iPad is nothing more than an iPod Touch only larger. We’ll see.

  4. I for one found this to be an interesting observation. Personally, if I had one it would sit permanently on the coffee table. As someone else mentioned here, not a productivity device but a couch surfer.

  5. Nice catch.

    I noticed that they showed it had a keyboard but didn’t show someone using the keyboard (something highlighted in iphone commercials).

    I drew a similar conclusion: typing is awkward.

  6. I stopped thinking that TV ads reflect real life at the age of 7 when I discovered that Hot Wheels cars didn’t really have flames and sparks shooting out of them when jumping off of a ramp.

    We get it… liliputing doesn’t like the iPad.

  7. Quick clarification–in the 2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence, I think you meant to write, “…you can hold an *iPod* in one hand…” as opposed to iPad. Ah, the fun of similarly named products!

  8. The ad seems pretty clearly focused on the device and its applications. Notice how it quickly shifts between people but held in the same position. Only at one point can you see part of an upper body for a split second. You never see a head. There’s no clear basis for using this ad to assert the device is inherently awkward.

    That said, you may be right about some use cases not working well for the iPad. It’s a tablet not a laptop. More importantly, a tablet is a tablet, give or take a bit of size and weight. So it seems reasonable to talk about this generally, maybe asking the question “are tablets going to be comfortable”. I think that’d be a much more useful article than talking about an ad showing how awkward the device will be.

    More generally though, looking at the broader discussion about iPad — isn’t it nice that people can choose to buy or not buy what works for them? Whether it’s technology, cars, clothes. I mean, what a simple truth that is on the edge of being forgotten. I have never seen so many people so feel so compulsively and vigorously declaring to the world why the device is flawed because it isn’t perfect for them. And that’s fine, people are entitled to their unhappiness, but it is rather unfortunate and pathetic.

    1. I don’t believe anyones unhappy or pathetic because he or she disputes the practicality of the iPad. Everyones entitled to there opinion about whatever. You should just voice your opinion about the device and not about the individuals who choose whether to like or dislike, wan’t or not wan’t to purchase this device. Pathetic is thinking that you are so much above the opinion of others who commonly use technology of all kind on a daily basis. This is why reviews and opinions are posted everyday so that companies can get consumer feedback. Now how is that pathetic?

      1. To clarify, I don’t believe people are unfortunate and pathetic, but sometimes their opinions and behaviors can be. I think that negative and critical opinions can be extremely helpful, but the motivation there should be to help inform others of the limitations of disadvantages of a device in particular use cases. Instead, the tone of a number of comments/articles I’ve read on iPad seems to be people dismissing the device entirely because they don’t need it or it isn’t what they want it to be. Thus my comment — what’s the point of that? Maybe someone wants a nice little (ok medium sized) device to read books and watch movies and do a little light web surfing. Who is anyone to suggest the thing is worthless just because it doesn’t fit one person’s particular needs. The act of compulsively pushing that opinion is rather pathetic, and there seems to be a lot of that around the iPad, thus I was just commenting that it all seems rather unfortunate. The device will have a lot of value to a lot of different people in a variety of ways, and the sooner it becomes clear that it isn’t trying to be a netbook or a laptop or a phone but rather just another kind of device with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, then the more constructive (and less pathetic) the conversation will be.

  9. Interesting take on the commercial. Personally, I think it has some truth, but two observations:
    1) They needed to make it look good on TV, so the camera angle was the driving factor
    2) What’s the alternative form factor… tiny screen? clamshell like a netbook? I think that the form factor is probably a lot more convenient overall “on the go” than most or all alternatives.

    I wouldn’t personally read too much into the ergonomics from the ad, but as to the actual execution of this particular device, we’ll just have to wait a bit longer to see what “real people” think about it.

  10. “video appears to show an oversized iPad”

    so an even more over-sized over-sized ipod touch? 😛

      1. Haha, looks like two Freudian typos! I didn’t see this until after I posted my correction. 🙂

  11. Really. THIS is what you’re criticizing – how the device was held in a TV spot, almost certainly filmed with dummy equipment, etc. I smell fear, plain and simple.

    1. And what exactly do you think I’m afraid of? That netbooks will go the way
      of the Palm Pilot? Not really. I write about mobile technology. I don’t
      think it’s going to happen, but if people stop buying netbooks and thin and
      light computers in the next year or two and switch to iPads, Android
      tablets, and 15 pound laptops I’ll still be around covering the latest
      trends in the mobile computing space.

      I just don’t see that happening anytime soon. That’s not to say the iPad
      won’t sell. I just really can’t figure out how you’re supposed to hold the
      thing for extended use. Admittedly, the device is designed for content
      consumption, not creation. If you don’t expect to spend a lot of time
      writing on your iPad and you don’t mind holding a video player the same way
      as a you hold a book, you might be OK.

      1. Brad you’ve got it exactly right. I’ve said this in a lot of posts on your site. The iPad is not really competing in the war for hearts and minds against netbooks. It’s a consumption device, not a creation device.

        It may pave the way for a major shake up in the hand held space though. So e-readers, smart phones, etc are under more market pressure because of this device, especially if it plays nice with something like google voice or skype.

        But if you want to send long really involved emails, or write a book this device is not for you.

        If you want a capable device that can play movies, and work as an e-reader, and allows you to carry around all your content, and can last a coast to coast flight while letting you do that… well this device is probably closer to what you want.

        At the end of the day, unless the iPad is a complete bust, it’s not that interesting. It’s the fact that it’s paving the way for a whole new class of commodity computing devices that will find their own equilibrium and ideal form factor that makes it truly interesting.

        1. Dell Mini 5 is the most interesting slate-style MID, with the Notion Ink Adam coming in for a close second. The Adam really would be first based on its hardware and Pixel Qi display, but it’s too big.

          The Mini 5 is great. It’s not much bigger than a large smartphone like the Droid or the HTC HD2, but it’s larger enough to give a more compelling web browsing and media-consumption experience.

      2. I think he meant that in the literal sense, waking up in a cold sweat at 3am with an Ipad perched in a slowly rocking chair across the bedroom type fear.

    2. Okay Joshua, ask yourself this one simple question. How many ways do you hold a damn text book in your hand? Answer: Not many different ways. Their you have it NOT PRACTICAL to type, create documents etc. Not to mention if it was practical to use, why is apple offering a add on keyboard? Answer: Because they know its not practical.

  12. NOTHING virtual can replace the experience of a PHYSICAL keyboard as far as ergonomics go. You can orgasm all you want over the iPad its not a practical device to replace a netbook. Maybe it will find use as a large digital logitech universal remote control. But if you think you are going to be able to type on this thing like you could a netbook you are sadly mistaken.

  13. This is the very reason I won’t be getting an iPad. The use case in our home is sat on a sofa or at the table; an attached keyboard is the only way to do this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the keyboard accessory will be great for sofa use.

    I’ve recently purchased a second hand HP TC1100 which is a convertible slate with a detachable keyboard. Cost £150 and it’s perfect for my use case.

  14. I think it’s likely that the more conventional methods of holding the iPad just aren’t TV-friendly. Actors on shows and commercials are forever holding and using products in ways no normal human being ever would because it gives the audience a clearer view.

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