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How does it "feel" to type on the iPad glass display? How easy is it to type?
Based on e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook messages received, readers have been concerned that it would be difficult to type directly on the iPad glass display using the "virtual" soft keyboard; or at the very least, that using the onscreen keyboard would "feel" awkward.
Typing on glass does feel awkward, but it also is important to note that the iPad is compatible with an external Apple keyboard dock accessory (subsequently discontinued) and the Apple Wireless Keyboard (US$69), as well as a number of third-party keyboards. Paired with a keyboard, the iPad can be used to comfortably compose full documents and let one reserve the onscreen keyboard for use only while on the go for less lengthy data-entry.
iPad Typing "Feel" Opinions
For those who find opinions from reviewers helpful, the following summary may be of interest.
I had no trouble typing accurately and quickly on the iPad's wide on-screen keyboard. In fact, I found the iPad virtual keyboard more comfortable and accurate to use than the cramped keyboards and touchpads on many netbooks, though some fast touch typists might disagree. Apple's [US]$39 iPad case, which bends to set up a nice angle for typing, helps.
As someone who's all thumbs when it comes to iPhone's tiny on-screen keyboard, I wondered if the iPad's larger keyboard would help me master this touch screen typing thing. In a word: Yes. I'm writing this review on the iPad's horizontal keyboard, in which the keys are large and nicely spaced. (The vertical keyboard is a little tighter, but still definitely useable.) If it weren't comfortable, I would have abandoned the iPad for my laptop 1,000 words ago.
The on-screen keyboard was eminently usable, even in portrait mode. But it was even better in landscape mode -- I could almost touch type. I'd use a Bluetooth keyboard for extended typing sessions but the on-screen keyboard was better than I expected.
The virtual onscreen keyboard that pops up when needed is fine for e-mails or scribbling notes, but I wouldn't want to regularly write articles using it.
It's a mixed bag, to be fair; in portrait mode, the keys are relatively cramped -- though still usable -- and more suited to either two-finger pecking or holding the iPad with one hand and stabbing with the other. Landscape mode is easier, though touch-typists will obviously miss the tactile feedback of a true keyboard. The experience would be far worse without Apple's well-esteemed auto-correction, which -- as on the iPhone before it -- suggests words, corrects spelling mistakes and automatically slots in common punctuation, learning new words as it goes along. For longer bouts of text entry, though, we'd reach for either Apple's iPad Keyboard Dock, which is more on a scale with their regular desktop 'board, or a Bluetooth alternative.
iPad Typing & Data-Entry Summary
Based on hands-on use and a variety of professional opinions, it's a safe conclusion that typing on the glass display is likely to be awkward, but perhaps a better experience than most expect. Many find it to be better typing with the larger iPad than with an iPod touch or iPhone. For more serious data-entry, external keyboard options -- and quality productivity applications -- make composing full documents quite feasible for many.
Regardless, the only true opinion that matters is your own and it would be wise to evaluate the iPad in person prior to purchase should you have any concerns about how it feels to type using the glass display.