We've come a long way, baby! (TabletPC's)

This post is in response to a blog post by Jim Lehmer.

Why/how do I use my Gateway M-285 Convertible?

I use the tablet in slate mode when reading or annotating PDF's, going through email, going through RSS feeds with Google Reader.  Having a Tablet PC comes in handy with drawing applications.

With PDF Annotator you can mark up and annotate a PDF.

I use the Grab and Drag add-on to FireFox so that I can use my stylus for sliding the page I'm viewing up and down.  Using Google Reader in "expanded view" mode with the slate configuration you can quickly and easily go through lots of feeds while sitting on the couch.

With Tablet Extensions for Outlook (TEO) you can use the stylus to easily create and send emails and appointments, etc in slate mode.

As far as keeping the screen clean, it really hasn't been an issue for me.  When I notice that it's getting a bit too smudged up, I'll pull out the cleaning cloth (magic 3M fabric) that's included with most (all?) Tablet's.  Or I'll just use some screen wipes.

Sure, I'll agree, that the current generation of machines still is lacking in the pen on paper feel.  However, I'm sure we'll get there.  Years ago I used a special stylus from Cross on my PDA and it had a great feel.  It was a bit unsettling how it wasn't smooth.  At least today's styli like those in the M285 aren't itty-bitty toothpicks anymore.  Some devices even have an electronic "eraser" at the other end of the stylus, like on the M255.

When you are meeting with a client, or you're in a setting where you're taking notes, slate mode with handwritten notes is the way to go.  Other people aren't distracted by the keys clicking and you've removed the physical barrier that the screen creates.  The technology blends into the background, letting you focus on what you're really trying to do.

Many people are much faster typing than hand writing.  So why do they take notes on paper in meetings?  Because it's more natural?  It doesn't get in the way?  It's less constraining?

Enter the killer app for the TabletPC - OneNote.

If you take your notes with OneNote you can easily add in more space to the page - even in the middle!  Not something you can do with pen and ink.  Keep the pen toolbar handy and you can easily change between pen types, colors, and widths.  Or pick up a highlighter.

With OneNote you can do handwriting recognition & search.  OneNote will do conversion from handwriting to text.  Yes, it's not 100% perfect.  You can correct it, but I've found it's best just to leave it in handwriting.  Why do you need it in text?  Odds are you don't.  So, after a meeting I'll often email notes out to participants in handwriting.

OneNote also offers voice recording & search within the audio.  Although, the practical aspects are such that I don't use this capability.

A feature I do use is image search.  You can snap a picture of a white board or scan a document in and you can search the text within the image!

One Note offers some integration with IE and OutLook.  Send documents from IE to OneNote.  Create OutLook tasks from within IE.

I'm just going to gloss over this, but OneNote notebooks are shareable via network drive, USB Flash Drive or SharePoint.

So, use OneNote just like all of those paper notebooks and notepads you have laying around and get everything in one place that's searchable, shareable and malleable.

There are other features of the application I haven't touched on that make OneNote just as home on a traditional laptop or desktop computer.  You owe it to yourself to check it out!

Prior blog posts that mention TabletPC's & OneNote:

How our Dev team uses OneNote

Tablet PC Head to Head

Developer Tool- Digital Camera