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Old 12-01-2007, 04:02 AM   #1
yuliang
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What's the best device for a math graduate student?

I am looking for a device for reading scientific papers and taking notes. I have three devices in my mind: the iLiad, a tablet pc, and HanLin v9t. And here are my thoughts.

A tablet pc doesn't have a E Ink screen, is much heavier, and has shorter battery life. However, it could have a larger screen, a better resolution (1400x1050), which are good for reading A4 documents with small letters. It's much more powerful so that the loading and page turning are much faster, and so that it can have powerful searching capabilities. It should be better for taking notes. Besides, one can download papers and books from internet and read them immediately. The price could be twice higher, though (I am thiking Thinkpad X61t). After all, it is a full functional pc!

The upcoming HanLin v9t has a larger screen and better resolution, so that it could be better for reading papers. However, we have no idea about the price and its other features.

Could anybody owing both a iLiad and a tablet pc share the experiences?
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:01 AM   #2
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The V9t is delayed indefinitely, so you can remove that one from consideration.

I'm a grad student and have been taking math and statistics courses. I love my iLiad. I have a tablet on loan from my employer and I can't imagine hauling that out in class. The iLiad is notebook sized (like a paper notebook, I mean) and very unobtrusive in class. The battery lasted all day at a conference I was at last month, with frequent note-taking. No tablet on the market today can do that. On the other hand, it doesn't have on-board handwriting recognition and conversion, if that matters to you.

I read journal articles on my iLiad all the time -- I don't bother to print them anymore. I find it very convenient. For most articles, I can read them in "continuous" mode, zoomed slightly to remove paper margins. Some I turn to landscape mode. There are new software enhancements available that handle multi-column page navigation much more neatly.

If you think you'll want to do other things on the device, like run statistics software, watch videos, etc. or if you really want on-board handwriting recognition, you should probably get a tablet. But if you need the long battery life and easy portability of the iLiad, I highly recommend it.
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Old 12-01-2007, 01:06 PM   #3
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I'm pretty much in the same boat, trying to find the perfect device for reading journal articles and taking notes.

If you're in North America (or know someone who'd be willing to order for you), one option might be the OLPC XO. It appears to strike a happy medium between the Iliad and a full-blown tablet PC. The price, even with the give-one-get-one offer, is certainly cheaper than either the Iliad or the X61t too.

Hopefully I'll get mine before the end of the month, so that I can test it out and see how it performs in the 200 dpi B&W mode.
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Old 12-01-2007, 03:54 PM   #4
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Hi, nekokami. Could you post a picture of your iLiad with written notes?
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Old 12-01-2007, 03:59 PM   #5
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Hi, AlexC. It seems the olpc ox has a touchpad on the keyboard, but not a touch screen. I doubt it is usful for taking heavy duty notes.
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Old 12-01-2007, 04:35 PM   #6
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The lack of a touchscreen was definitely a concern. Still, I'm hoping that the stylus area of the XO's touchpad, which stretches most of the width of the keyboard, will be more responsive than the Iliad's e-ink/active digitizer setup. Not being able to write in tablet mode is a bit of a letdown though. We'll see.
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yuliang View Post
Hi, nekokami. Could you post a picture of your iLiad with written notes?
If I can find my camera... there are a bunch of pictures posted in the forum already, though.
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:51 PM   #8
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Does the XO have handwriting recognition? That would be a surprise. I don't think there's much HWR available on linux yet.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:36 PM   #9
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The only real-time handwriting recognition system I've played around with for linux is CellWriter, which seems to work well enough with a Wacom tablet. The dependencies seem modest, so it should work with the XO, although probably not with the Sugar UI.

Otherwise, I guess there's always offline recognition software.
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Old 12-01-2007, 11:25 PM   #10
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My question would be are you going to need to run Maple, MathCad, Mathmatica or some other mathematic's oriented software? If not and ya just need to take plain old notes then the math grad student part does not matter really...right?

But is you do then some sort of tablet or "convertible" PC might be the best option if you add an extra battery or two...more weight and a PITA but much more horsepower.

I see maple 11 supports handwriting recognition...

http://www.maplesoft.com/products/Ma...cognition.aspx

And I did a Google search using:

mathematical "handwriting recognition"

And see there might be several other pieces of software out there now...sure are more then when I was a math major and 11 of us split the cost of one copy of MCAD...and that was the student version!! shhhhh...dunna tell anyone that was Mcad v2.x or so...

One thing for certain is I have not heard of any scientific/math oriented note taking software that runs on a book-reader type system that will do more than capture the notes. But like someone mentioned it could be possible to do the OCR after the fact...dunno if it would be worth the effort to correct though.
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:23 AM   #11
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I forgot, there's now a decent word processor/text editor for the iLiad, and you can use the single-line HWR that comes with the iLiad to do the text entry, so in that sense the iLiad has on-board HWR. But I doubt it would work for mathematical notation. I think you'd need custom SW for that no matter what platform you're using (e.g. maple, as noted above).
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:07 AM   #12
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Yuliang, my advice to you and to any other serious student is to forget about this technology for a few years at least. Concentrate on what you have chosen as your goal: learning and applying mathematics. If you spend time on Eink displays, obtaining/converting/formatting files for the device, figuring out solutions to their poor searching and note-taking capabilities, etc., then you will spend a lot of your precious time fooling with cool technologies but not with math. I have two daughters in college and together we got interested in replacing textbooks and handwritten notes with ebooks and electronic notes. It became very clear to me that although this sounds like the correct ultimate solution, it's not ready for use by people who need to think about the problem they're working on instead of the tools and the medium they're using to work on it. Books, papers, pencils are all archaic but they just work without you having to think about them.

If you go ahead with this idea anyway, then I strongly suggest a tablet pc since it will give you far fewer problems than the Eink devices, you can take notes in Mathematica (if you insist on avoiding paper), refer to publications on the web, have multiple open windows for when you are trying to read and refer to other documents, you can search, you can take notes, etc. You will still have to deal with the vagueries of the software that captures your writings, the OCR software, the managing of your note files, the reliability of the touchscreen, and planning for lost data. But you will have much more serious problems, I think, if you try to use something less than a full-blown tablet pc and you will have probably spent a lot of time before deciding it was the wrong thing to do.

Best of luck to you!
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:50 AM   #13
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Here is a 2nd about getting bogged down managing the technology when you need to be learning the topics at hand.

If you are looking for a way to better keep-up with the lecture and changes of the equations....I can offer what is a great working suggestion I got while auditing an undergrad major course from one of my grad professors...use COLORED PENCILS...this turned out to be especially useful when taking notes in class or when tutoring a student. At the time we were focused on solving systems of differential equations using Bessel functions, Legendre polynomials and whatever substitutions and reducing them down to recurrence relations. Well, if one tried to rewrite the whole equation with each substitution we would never have finished on solution in a single lecture...our prof. even used colored chalk to help...

That might have been the single best trick I ever learned getting my math degrees...I used it from then on is ALL my math courses where I actually needed to take notes. It was surprising how few courses ever really required I took notes. Paying attention and being prepared for class is the BEST trick to getting a degree in mathematics...once you see a trick/technique for solving a problem you will not forget it...so focus on the theory and the solutions will work their way to the top...then again my background is NOT applied mathematics...I am strictly theoretical as a preference...never cared what the equations were for just that I can find a solution.

I used it in other courses too when it seemed to make sense...still use it in a way for coding/debugging but with markers to isolate loops and other structures...these old-eyes = see crap nuttin' anymore...

The BEST method for learning advance mathematics is a pad and a pencil...in this case consider adding a full set of colored pencils to let you track the changes made during the lecture. Later when you rewrite your notes you can do the "one change/line" discipline.

You might also look into what your university math department recommends in terms of software...they might even have a special license that allows students in the major to install a copy free...

But really, stick to pad and pencils for note taking...
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Old 12-07-2007, 09:00 AM   #14
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Other than the lack of color, the iLiad is pretty much like taking notes with pencil and paper, except that you can back up your notes and all your notebooks fit in one package. (Easier to share copies of notes with friends who missed the lecture, too.)
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:58 PM   #15
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I see one main reason for e-ink and sientific work:

- You have a lot of pdf Docs and you can download a lot of journal articles.

- You can read these Documents on the device.

What I mean, e-ink (for journals: iLiad) is mainly for reading electronic documents. I wouldnt do that with Tablet PCs. Otherwise: Print all your pdfs.

Greetings
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