Today’s digital notebook experience

Today’s digital notebook experience

Let me start at the beginning.  I usually like to start in the middle or at the end, much to the chagrin of friends and family.

We have tried to replicate the notebook digitally—mostly successfully.  Let’s consider a few aspects of the digital notebook experience:

  • The physical manifestation of work.  The lack of the concrete.  The feeling of impermanence.  This can be overcome by making a hard copy.  But that just doesn’t make sense.
  • Instant access.  Today’s technology with instant on tablets and software like OneNote are addressing this.  And now with the cloud we can often access the same notebook from multiple platforms.
  • Search.  In a physical journal we can quickly and intuitively find content.  This seems to be a more difficult task with the digital notebook.  However, with a digital notebook you can use search against handwriting and simulate flipping through pages.
  • Poor vendor marketing of the active stylus.  In my experience, you must have an active digitizer to do good note taking or drawing.  With the exception of Microsoft Surface Pro and Samsung, even when a device has the capability the vendors are failing to identify the feature.  For instance the Sony split and HP Split X2s offers an active stylus option but you don’t really see that marketed well.  On top of that, many people don’t understand the difference between a $40 active stylus and a $5 capacitive stylus from the check out line.
  • Pressure sensitivity.  With the active stylus this has greatly improved.
  • Palm rejection.  This used to be a horrible issue on the dual technology capacitive touch and active stylus systems.  However, this has been mostly resolved.  I’ve used tablets from HP and Sony that this isn’t an issue.
  • The experience of the feeling of the pen or pencil moving across the paper is gone.  There is something magical about the feeling of a pen or pencil on paper.  Today’s active stylus typically has a very slick feel during use.  A long time ago, Cross made a stylus insert for their pens.  This was in the day of Palm Pilots.  It had a really nice feel to it.  It came very close to the feel of pen on paper.  I have seen no modern equivalent.

The digital notebook experience has come a long way.  With the wide spread adoption of tablet computing I really hope we continue to see advancement in the active digitizer field.  I would hate to see the technology lose to the far inferior capacitive touch only stylus.

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