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Old 09-30-2011, 02:38 AM   #1
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Considering buying a tablet - but only if it has good handwriting-to-text capability

I have no idea if tablets offer this capability, but it's a must if I'm going to splurge for one.

Specifically I'm looking for one that can be written on by hand with a stylus and then have that converted to text. I'd like to use that for annotating and, separate from books and reading, also for notes, lists and other writing.

My Sony 950 has handwriting abilities that are so slow that I never use them, and it does not convert to text. I'd hope a non-e-ink tablet would be much faster with this type of thing. I know that if there is such a thing, you probably have to write carefully and whatnot to get any kind of accurate transcription to text, but I'm OK with that, as long as it was at least good enough to be feasible for regular careful use.

Besides that, I'm only looking to spend around $200 or so.

Also, I think I'd like a smaller one like the nook color or the new Kindle Fire, and I know those are more in my price range anyway, but I'm open to another size.

If both nook color and Kindle Fire (and any others you might mention) have the handwriting-to-text capability, then try to sell me on which one is preferable. I know the Fire is brand new and hardly anyone has used one yet. I hear it is going to have more of a closed app system though with less choice - not sure if that will be a good or bad thing or if one will be able to get around that. I'm not very technical so any "rooting" or anything of any of them will be close to being over my head unless I decide to buckle down and try really hard to figure it out, which I'd preferably not have to bother with.

I don't really know how the nook color and Kindle Fire will differ besides that and their file support formats. I used to be anti-Kindle and still somewhat am, but I have many times seen while searching inkmesh how much cheaper the ebook I was buying would've been at Amazon (though not so much cheaper to make me want to buy it and bother to convert the file format), and now that it offers library integration and alternatives besides those ugly keyboard Kindles, I'd easily consider it.

Thanks for any advice!

Last edited by sun surfer; 09-30-2011 at 02:50 AM.
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Old 09-30-2011, 08:57 AM   #2
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A requirement for handwriting to text pretty much means you need to look at a Windows TabletPC. Which puts it out of your price range at this point.
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Old 09-30-2011, 09:18 AM   #3
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There was a big push/interest in this with pda devices but I think it has pretty much faded. Many ebook readers offer annotation, but I'm not sure about handwriting recognition...
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Old 10-01-2011, 04:57 AM   #4
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I've heard that what really makes a difference with stylus input on tablets is getting a tablet w/ a digitizer, like the HTC Flyer. However, these don't come cheap.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charmian View Post
I've heard that what really makes a difference with stylus input on tablets is getting a tablet w/ a digitizer, like the HTC Flyer. However, these don't come cheap.
A "digitizer" is a generic name for any device that converts analogue input into a digital form. In this case, the analogue input is a touch on the screen. All touch screens are digitizers of one form or another.

Some forms of touch screen are much more accurate than others. Eg the Wacom touch screens found on Tablet PCs and some eBook readers are extremely accurate, being able to resolve to a fraction of a mm. Capacitive touch screens are much less accurate - you really can't use them for handwriting.

Last edited by HarryT; 10-01-2011 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:35 AM   #6
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I hesitate to say "there's an app for that," but...

The Amazon Android Market is giving away Graffiti Pro today, normally on sale for $1.99. It claims to be similar to the old Palm OS way of entering text. I haven't used it, but it looks like what you want and will run on multiple Android tablets.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:46 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
A "digitizer" is a generic name for any device that converts analogue input into a digital form. In this case, the analogue input is a touch on the screen. All touch screens are digitizers of one form or another.

Some forms of touch screen are much more accurate than others. Eg the Wacom touch screens found on Tablet PCs and some eBook readers are extremely accurate, being able to resolve to a fraction of a mm. Capacitive touch screens are much less accurate - you really can't use them for handwriting.
I think he meant a pen by digitizer... And the Flyer pen is really usuable for handwriting.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:22 AM   #8
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Have a look at the new Lenovo android pad. It has writing to text input but not very good. Wait until Windows 8 tablets come out. I have a feeling that they will be working on something like this. Current Windows 7 ones do it better than android but still not great.
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Old 10-03-2011, 02:36 PM   #9
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The real issue is the overall cost of the Wacom digitizers, which raises the hardware cost of the tablets that have them. And they are really the only ones I've used that do an effective job. But it will be worth it to get that capability in a tablet, and I'll undoubtedly be buying one when they come out.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:02 PM   #10
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Thanks for all your help so far. I was hoping it would be a standard feature on all tablets so it's disappointing to hear these responses! I'll check out the few tablets and apps mentioned by some of you.

This does lead to another question though - I suppose handwriting-to-text would be the best, but hearing about the Graffiti app made me put two and two together and what I want most is a fast and easy way to input text into a tablet, so definitely not an on-screen keyboard. I hadn't even thought of the Swype capabilities of my phone.

So I wonder if you could use Swype on a tablet for a word processing application. Or even Graffiti, but for word processing. I am thinking this must be very possible, which may open up all the tablets to options for me again. Despite any problems with handwriting-to-text, it would still be preferable to Swype or Graffiti, but they themselves are much preferable to an on-screen keyboard and are a possible compromise.

I'm trying to imagine how easy (or not) it would be to write for awhile with Swype rather than just a quick text. Swype is annoying sometimes but it is quick, and with a bigger Swype keyboard on a tablet instead of a phone it would probably be more accurate. I could see using it or Graffiti quickly for text and then going back to proofread capitalisation and punctuation. Definitely not a perfect solution but a possible one.

I do have one question - so a "Wacom" screen is needed to use a stylus instead of fingers? Even if all tablets had handwriting-to-text, it would be so much easier with a stylus than using fingers.
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:06 AM   #11
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No, a wacom isn't required. There are other ways. My Flyer doesn't have wacom but it does have a pen with a point which can be used perfectly for writing.
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:01 PM   #12
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DioPen is a handwriting recognition keyboard replacement (like Swype) for Android that I find works quite well. Works very well on the resistive touch screen of my PocketEdge, and works almost as on the Acer A500's capative touch screen (using an approriate stylus, finger is useless IMO) - you just have to write larger. Being an Old School Palm user, I also have Grafitti as an input method as well.

Which one I use will vary, depending on conditions. If I'm sitting down, and can hold the tablet relatively stationary, I'll use Diopen. On the move, or standing, my handwriting degrades so I'll use Graffiti which forces you to make the characters in a predefined way. If I'm at a desk, USB keyboard.

I also use WritePad for iOS on my Ipod as well - also recommended.


What I'd really like to see is more tablet makers offer watcom Penabled input along with the capacitve touch. It can't add too much more to the cost. They could have a hardware switch to switch between the two (or auto-sense when the pen is near).
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