A brief update on my tablet PC experiences; a bit happier now

tablet computing, technology

Another day, a happier Adam.

First of all, via the prompting of a thoughtful work friend yesterday afternon, I realized that I hadn’t installed a critical update on OneNote (SP1)… and installing that made a world of difference. No more wonky behavior of menus not coming up or the system getting stuck in select-mode, etc. Chris Pratley, one of the OneNote developers, also was kind enough to include a very thoughtful comment on my earlier blog entry, confirming that SP1 fixes a ton of stuff with OneNote and tablets (specifically for my brand of tablet, Toshiba).

Either related to that update, or just my “training,” I’m finding that the tablet’s recognition of my handwriting is now excellent. Its recognition of my printing is only fair, but perhaps that’ll improve with time, too.

Some questions about writing things:

– I wonder if it’ll be confusing to the poor bugger if I switch back and forth between handwriting and printing.

– I’m also unsure how to optimize my printing so as to get the greatest recognition results.

– How can I consistently get small fonts? This seems easier with printing than with handwriting, but I’m not sure.

Some other discoveries / thoughts:

Writing the number “1” has so far been nearly impossible. Argh!

For some reason, one of the Tablet Input Panels I have is to “recognize” words I type into the English UK dictionary. Huh? Why the UK dictionary? Was my tablet set up in the wrong language? How do I even check this? And what does that TIP option do anyway? Is it the same as “Add to dictionary”?

I played “Spider Solitaire” which was both fun and (embarrassingly) hard even at the easiest level. One thing that made me annoyed and even a little uncomfortable, though, was the requirement that one literally drag stuff every move. Why couldn’t I simply tap on the origin and destination? That’d not only be a lot more efficient, but it’d also freak me out less about scratching my screen. Yes, I have a screen protector (looks crappy, but I haven’t yet bought a new / nicer one), but still…

I know others have mentioned this angrily in many other places, but I’ll chime in: Toshiba, it’s a travesty how much crapware you’ve installed on this machine, both in terms of actual software and shortcuts. Three AOL links, two AT&T things, + Zinio, Franklin Covey, and other stuff, too. Sheesh! Throw in some more paper leaflets like credit card companies do, if you must, but please stop the practice of crapifying my tablet (unless you want to reduce the cost by $500 per tablet, in which case, sure, go ahead, make my day).

On a happier note, this thing is kinda fun to use in bed. I read my blog feeds, checked out a few Web sites, played solitaire… wheee!

And this tablet rarely has the fan go on and is also not very hot to the touch. That’s refreshing, especially compared to other laptops I’ve used!

Oh, and I’m proud that so far, I’ve used this as a slate most of the time. The only time it has gotten to be a huge pain is when filling out registration forms. Oh yeah, and entering in the WEP key (twice!) to access my home wireless network. I cried uncle on that and used the keyboard.

Frankly, I’m still not yet really sold on my purchase. I could have surfed bloglines in bed using a laptop, for instance. But the true test will be, I think, how this goes in a meeting… especially an upcoming meeting in which I’m taking notes about some Web site design and flow issues. Perhaps I’ll then use the keyboard, but keep the pen handy so I can make drawing notes on top of text (arrows, highlighting, etc.).

I’ll keep y’all posted here. And thanks, everyone, for the thoughtful comments on my previous tablet entry!

3 comments… add one
  • Warner Crocker Aug 27, 2005

    Regarding handwriting and cursive vs. printing. Believe it or not cursive seems to be recognized better than printing and in my case the worse I seem to write the better it is recognized. The number 1, 0 vs o, and a few other things are really a pain and you have to train yourself to make it work for you.

    Keep plugging at it.

  • Chris_Pratley (MS) Aug 27, 2005

    Adam, I’m glad Sp1 has improved things for you. You’ll really like it better for the features, not just the fixes. BTW, the bulleted list problem you described where your inked bullets are not reco’d as bullets is a limitation of the v.1 ink parser on the Tablet. That and other structural parsing improvements will get better with future versions. For now, you can ink the bullet, and although OneNote will not recognize that mark as a bullet, if you leave everything in ink it shouldn’t make a difference since it looks like a bullet to you (the beauty of leaving ink as ink). If you convert to text, you will have to clean it up of course.

    Longhand is recognized better than printing in my experience. This is because the reco engine on the Tablet does not determine what you wrote by what it looks like – so clear printing is not really an advantage over longhand. Instead it compares the sequence of strokes you make vs. a large database it maintains of several thousand people’s handwriting that the tablet team collected. Longhand tends to be more specific in its strokes so it will disambiguate better.

    I should also mention that in addition to SP1 of OneNote, you MUST get SP2 of Windows XP Tablet Edition. This improves the TIP, the reco engines, performance, and several other nice things as well.

  • Tracy Hooten Aug 28, 2005

    For internet forms, RoboForm is a lifesaver on my tablet. Works for logins, too.

    Welcome to the tablet world, by the way ^_^.

What do you think?