Friday, January 20, 2006

My Tablet Computer Experience

I have been using a Tablet for about 3 months now, and wanted to write down a few notes about the experience so far. This article is not a review of any specific model, but about the TabletPC (Convertible) concept in general. (For the interested, the exact model is the Lenovo/IBM ThinkPad X41 Tablet, with 1.5 GB RAM. This is my forth or fifth ThinkPad actually... first one was a ThinkPad 560 back in 1997!)

In short - I love it. The "convertible" concept makes sense to me. Yes, I use it as a "normal" (sub-)notebook fairly frequently for anything from writing emails to actual programming - but I love to be able to switch it to "slate" mode, at work in a meeting, while travelling e.g. in the train, at home on the sofa...

What I probably use it most for is as a compact reading device - it really does make a difference to read a PDF file in full screen portrait instead of the usual landscape dimension! Think turning your screen so that look more like a Letter/A4 paper than it probably does now while you are reading this. Similarly, I love browsing the Web from my living room couch, not sitting on a desk, with the tablet! Either in portrait or this more often in the usual landscape dimension - easy to switch! Just using the pen works well for browsing - you need a lot less keys to consume information than to contribute any... in fact not just less keys, less brain too - but that's another story. Of course, music plays from the tablet while reading or browsing... Of course, I could have a similar experience with some MP3_player+eBook_Reader+ePen+Laptop(+POTS_Phone), but for now, a "converged device" approach based on a TabletPC works just great for me.

Now, I have almost not used the character recognition for anything real... it "reasonably" works well, but... I don't have a need for it, can that be?! I do have spent many a meeting now taking notes scribbled on the tablet, instead of paper; both for emailing them to colleagues in ink form, and to later look up something - without carrying that paper notebook around anymore. I just usually don't bother, need, to convert such handwriting to text.

I do wish it would be simple to quickly scribble an email - again no ink-to-text conversion would be needed, just scribble a handwritten short note and send it off - as picture. Surprisingly, this is not easily possible with Outlook (there is a commercial 3rd party plug-in though), and certainly not with Thunderbird yet.

Something else is drawing with the TabletPC - definitely feels more natural. Should be obvious I guess, but if you do have some doubts, do some Noddy cartoon character colouring with your small kid with a Mouse and a Tablet Pen and watch what he/she pick up more naturally... I am no artist, but have occasionally used this to draw up a diagram or something. It's particularly handy to draw or jot down ideas during a presentation, with the TabletPC hooked up to a beamer... ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can I say. You have not changed a bit. Just got a kid.

Me... hair is bit shorter, two daughters, job in the UK, PhD in Russian Law, but the rest is the same Heart's Bend me ... Danila (a tall guy from Moscow).

It would would be great to get in touch. Do you ever come out to the UK?

My details these days are:
+44 207 466 2339

01 February, 2006 13:59  

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