November 15, 2005

Using a tablet PC

I've had a convertible laptop for a little while now. I got it to use in meetings as a way of avoiding paper. A normal laptop acts as too much of a barrier between you and others in the meeting (unless it is a room full of techies, I suppose :-) so I always end up printing off all the papers and taking notes on paper. Over the last couple of days I've found another context in which a tablet is useful.

On Sunday we took the kids iceskating. It was only the second time I'd been skating and the last time was 30 years ago! All was going very well until about 50 minutes into the session when I had my first fall. It was also my last, because I hurt my left wrist quite badly. It isn't broken, but it is quite swollen, and I'm effectively one handed at the mount. Typing is quite hard work, so I've had on opportunity to by out the alternatives that a tablet PC provides.

First, there is voice input. Like any voice recognition system you do have to train it. I've done the bare minimum so far, not expecting to actually use it! Still, it works surprisingly well. Especially as I'm using the microphones built into the laptop rather then the recommended headset. Entry is very quick and surprisingly accurate. It would be better still, I'm sure, if I trained it more. Of course, you couldn't use this in a shared office!

Next is handwriting recognition. Surprisingly this doesn't need any training and yet it is capable of recognising my scrawl with surprising accuracy. The technology is clearly very sophisticated. It is doing more than just a dictionary lookup to match the words. If you watch it doing real time recognition you will notice that often it will change a word based on what comes after it. Handwriting is slower than voice input, but I find it slightly more accurate and so more useful. This whole entry has been handwritten!

Obviously, it would be easier and quicker to use a keyboard, but since I can't a tablet has enabled me to do stuff I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Do you hate ice skating now as much as bowling? :)

    15 Nov 2005, 17:00

  2. Nick

    I know what you mean – I had my hand bandaged up after a Hockey injury – at least it was my left hand so I could still use my tablet

    16 Nov 2005, 08:51

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