16 Comments

Summary:

One of the best features of the iPad is its lack of features, especially when it comes to writing. Knowing that chat is not running and Twitter is turned off lets the writer focus entirely on the task of writing.

ipaddock_thumb

One of the best features of the iPad is its lack of features, especially when it comes to writing. Knowing that chat is not running and Twitter is turned off lets the writer focus entirely on the task of writing. However, typing on the iPad’s software keyboard for anything more than a couple of paragraphs is frustrating, for me at least. That’s where the Apple iPad dock comes in. Putting the iPad in the dock presents the writer with an elegant and enjoyable environment perfectly focused on cranking out text.

At first, I resisted getting the dock, opting instead for the Apple iPad case. When using the iPad in the case, it is possible to set the iPad on its edge and use the bluetooth keyboard to type. Possible, but not elegant. The case is malleable and unstable, so while the case can balance the iPad on its edge, to interact with the touch interface still requires both hands. If you don’t use one hand to steady the iPad, the first time you try to tap on a word in Pages you’ll knock your iPad onto its back. I’ve done this more than once and it makes a sickening sounding “whack” noise.

The case isn’t all bad. Using the case in its other, more stable position, laying down with the small edge at the back, lifts the iPad up to a perfect reading angle, and a good angle to type using the software keyboard. Once you try to use the bluetooth keyboard at this angle though, it becomes much more awkward, since the screen is sitting farther back.

There is no way to dock the iPad while it’s in the case, but sliding it out of the case is fairly easy. The dock is small, and at first I was worried about how stable the iPad would be resting in it. It turns out that its much more stable than I expected. The dock is surprisingly heavy and solid, reassuringly so, and most importantly it doesn’t distract with worry about the iPad tipping over like it does with the case.

I’m not convinced that the Apple dock is the best stand for the iPad, but I am convinced of the usefulness of the dock for the purpose of writing. Combining the dock with a bluetooth keyboard and Pages is one of the most elegant and relaxing writing experiences I’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to many long hours with this setup.

I’d love to hear your opinion on the case, the dock, or the software keyboard. Let me know your favorite way to interact with the iPad in the comments!

You're subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

Related stories

  1. I have the iPad dock, but find that I don’t like it for writing due to the fixed nature of portrait mode. I prefer landscape because apps I write in (WP, Office2 HD, etc…) often include a menu system on the left side of the iPad. That reduces taps a bit — generally an ergo nightmare when the iPad is docked upright — because I don’t need to reach out just to see the menu. I use a Macally Bookstand instead of the dock.

    It’s a personal preferences thing of course – to each, his or her own! :)

    Share
  2. If Twitter and IM programs are an unavoidable distraction, there’s tons of ways around this. Exit your chat program, disable your network adapter, edit your allowable sites on your router, hit F11 if you’re writing in a browser, or develop the discipline to not change windows. The iPad in general is an ergonomic nightmare and while docks can be an improvement, a properly setup desktop is a huge improvement over any iPad setup save one that makes it on par. And desktops don’t have a closed app environment meaning you can write in any application that’s ever been developed.

    Share
  3. For distraction-free writing, Pages has a full screen view, as do tons of other editors.

    For reading… use your laptop’s display, and hook up to an external monitor.

    Done.

    Share
  4. I don’t use the dock, but instead, nestle my iPad in the keyboard dock and write in Pages when the inspiration strikes.

    The InCase cover I purchased has a serviceable plastic stand that works best when the iPad is in the landscape position. Combine that with the bluetooth keyboard, a TV-stand, my couch, and I’ve a second place to write.

    Share
  5. I think posters like Archonic and Cold Water are completely missing the point of the article, as well as being ridiculously condescending in the process. The author isn’t asking you to tell him why he was wrong to get or use an iPad. Asking, “Given that one is using this for writing, this is the setup I prefer” is not an invitation to say, “Don’t use it for writing.” Neither is it an invitation to make condescending remarks about working in full screen, having “discipline,” or arguing about the app system. It’s mean, it’s ignorant, and it’s rude. Grow up.

    Share
    1. … and the author’s whole premise is that a big advantage of using the iPad for writing is that it’s distraction-free.

      That’s hardly a selling point for $600+ worth on gadgets and accessories if you can get them from your existing tools for free.

      Share
      1. Actually, what I was trying to convey is what a simple and beautiful setup the iPad in the dock and the Bluetooth keyboard is. Its like a typewriter from the future :). I’m well aware of full screen writing apps, but maybe it’s just my state of mnd that makes writing on the iPad “better” for me. Distraction can take many forms. An IM from a friend is one, but the option (temptation?) to stop writing just for a second, and check to see what’s going on is always there on a laptop. I don’t have that same distraction on the iPad.

        Share
  6. I’m not sure the dock alone makes much sense for everyone. For use just at home (i.e. on the kitchen table), the otherwise klunky keyboard plus dock combo might be a better investment. It has the added advantage that, at present, it’s the only way to add a keyboard to a 2-g iPod touch. (The touch fits perfectly and even the brightness controls work.)

    For use on the go, some sort of collapsable book stand might make more sense. They’re cheap, compact, and most should work in both portrait and landscape.

    Maybe soon, someone clever with come up with a gadget that:

    * Is padded to rest comfortably in the lap

    * Holds a iPad at an easily adjustable, portrait or landscape angle.

    * Doesn’t block the cable in either orientation.

    * Has non-slip space for Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard in front of the iPad.

    * Works equally well for text entry or just reading. For reading, the space in front might be designed to work well with a cup of tea or coffee, either an indention or a car-sized hole for traveler’s mugs and cans of pop.

    Another useful gadget for travelers would be an iPad carrying case that:

    * Has a storage space specifically designed for Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard.

    * Tilts an iPad on a table at a good angle for viewing.

    * For air travelers, it hangs an iPad from the seat in front of you and allows you to type on the food tray. I’m not sure how that would be done, but there’s a lot of money for the person who figures out how. It’d also work in a car for kids gaming in the backseat.

    Share
  7. I haven’t got the stand but would like something similar that could in someway work in landscape mode as well. Obviously not docking in landscape but an alternative to portrait would be good

    Share
  8. What I dislike about the apple dock is that you can’t just pick up the iPad and leave, you have to hold the dock down so it doesn’t tag along with you.

    That and the fact that you can’t rotate it has me looking for a more useful dock.

    I would like to find something that a: won’t scratch the iPad and b: is small enough to carry in my backpack so I can use it on the airplane.

    Share
  9. I like the dock. Like you when I first bought it I was concerned that it would not be stirdy enough to support the ipad, but it does so with no problems at all. I think the dock makes it convenient to write on the ipad, I am personally a fan of the product.

    Share
  10. I use the keyboard dock for writing things on my iPad and I love it. It’s a little too big to fit into my laptop case but it’s a manageable size if I really need to take it with me. I rarely ever type in landscape mode anyway so the fact that I can’t turn the iPad on it’s side doesn’t bother me. Personally, I’m very happy with both the keyboard dock and the iPad as far as writing is concerned. I don’t get distracted as easy and all the information I may need is still at my fingertips!

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post