As I said before, I am a really big fan of Tablet PCs. They fulfill a vision I had almost 20 years ago about what a great form factor for a personal computer would be. So, I thought I would talk a bit about my experiences with Tablets.
My first Tablet PC was a Compaq TC1000 that I got back in 2003. Despite the fact that it was pretty underpowered for what I do, I absolutely loved it. Well, maybe that is not entirely true. At first, I found it a little awkward, and I found some aspects of it disappointing. I was mostly disappointed about how hard it was to do everyday things like wirte a Word document or create a presentation by writing and having it convert to text.
What I ended up doing was to get rid of all my other computers. I had no desktop computer, no laptop, and I even got rid of my keyboard for a while. I worked this way for about 6 months. What this forced me to do was to learn how best to accomplish my work in a tablet environment.
The first thing I learned is that converting writing to text was not the best way to work on the tablet (at least not for what I do). Microsoft OneNote became my number one application. Much of my work relates to research, idea generation, and meetings, and OneNote has been the centre of it for 4+ years now. I have also been using MindJet’s MindManager for several years now, and I use it almost as much as OneNote.
I also learned that I had to break out of our modern tendancy to format things as we go. I know that I have always had a tendancy to try to make things pretty as I go. The tablet has forced me to focus on getting ideas down – dumping my thoughts, so to speak. Then, if I convert it to text at some point, I can edit and format it (actually, if I am smart, I pass it on to someone much more adept than I am at making things pretty).
My biggest disappointment has been (and remains) the lack of integration of pen interaction with the main tools in office work – Internet Explorer and the Microsoft Office suite. It should be much simpler to do simple things like create a document, edit a spreadsheet, send an eMail, perform a web search, without reverting to the TIP (which I hate, for the most part). It should also be easier for a left handed person to work (why is OneNote the only Office application that lets you switch the scroll bar on the left hand side?)
That’s all for now – in my next post I will talk about my current setup, and things I would like to see in the Tablet PC world.