|The rationale of "landscape" layout, in detail|
Message #45 Posted by Karl Schneider on 30 Jan 2011, 3:31 p.m.,
in response to message #44 by Mike Morrow
But no one has ever been able to coherently explain any *advantage* that stems from the landscape layout. "Cute" and "different" and "I just like it" are subjective artistic-type considerations that do not provide a real answer to the question.
Those insinuations are far from the truth. Many people here have plainly and coherently explained the advantages, appeal, and rationale for this and other things you seem to despise, yet you continually ignore it and then re-hash your predictable "talking points" a few months later, or even subsequently in the same thread (for example, after Håkan Thörngren posted in this one).
Certainly for actual handheld use, the portrait layout is ideal. I suspect that many users of the HP-35 and successors took them to construction sites and other "field" locations. However, many or most users in the early 1980's -- such as office workers and students -- would place the calculator near the front of a tabletop or desktop, using it to calculate numbers to write on their papers. In that era, few people had a PC or computer terminal on their desks. Thus, no pull-out keyboard trays to move the user away from the desk or table. 90% of people are also right-handed, and would press the keys with that hand.
With all of that in mind, the Voyager-series portrait layout made perfect sense. These calc's also have the display window offset to the left, shift keys in the lower-left corner, and data-entry keys on the right side, but just to the left of the arithmetic keys. With the calc placed to the user's right near the edge of the desk, the following ergonomic advantages were achieved:
- The display window is moved a few inches closer to the user than with portrait layout.
- The user's right hand is moved in a natural side-to-side motion to reach keys, instead of a back-and-forth ("to and fro") motion that involves the user's upper arm.
- The shift keys can be pressed with the right thumb, if desired.
- Most "operation" and transcedental-function keys (other than arithmetic) are not obstructed by the user's hand while entering data.
Yes, HP thought this through quite well. Portable computers of the era, such as the HP-71B and the models by Sharp also used this layout for similar reasons. Please note that "cuteness", "different", and "artisan" had nothing to do with them. (The HP-71B and HP-75 were too large to reasonably use as handhelds, anyway.)
Also remember that HP was selling the HP-41 as a calculator well-suited for handheld field use, with its expandability, advanced programmability, and limited data-storage capability. The HP-34C was also available as a handheld alternative, up until 1983. The Voyager-series models, however, were not really intended for field use.
By the latter 1980's, the modus operandi of office work was evolving. Most white-collar workers began to get PC's for their desks, along with pull-out keyboard trays for entering numbers into documents, e-mails, or even spreadsheets in some cases. The user was no longer sitting next to the calculator placed on the edge of the desk surface, and would no longer write the calculated result onto paper placed nearby on the desktop. Hand-held use was becoming the norm, dictating a portrait layout for the Pioneer series.
Students, meanwhile, continued to use desks without PC's, as Håkan and others could attest. The landscape layout worked great for that.
One final point: HP's landscape layout isn't optimal for those who want to operate the calculator with their left hand, but is still workable. It should be noted that telephones have long been optimally configured for right-handed operation and left-handed listening -- even more so with rotary dialing. Predominant right-handedness of people is why the dials were turned clockwise, and why the handset is plugged into the left side of the phone. The objective was to optimize ergonomics for the most-typical method of usage -- something that, unfortunately, is often not achieved in modern consumer produtcts.
Alles klar? Coherent enough?
Edited: 31 Jan 2011, 2:06 a.m. after one or more responses were posted