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Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other?

  1. Sep 17, 2011 #1
    Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    Hey PF,

    The other day I was sitting in my office looking around and I counted about 50 textbooks and mountains upon mountains of notes/notebooks from classes, loose papers, assignments graded and to be graded, binders, journal articles, old Phys. Today issues, etc. You get the idea.

    Now, aside from the fact that my office is kind of a mess (which is OK, because I'm a graduate student), I'm thinking to myself, "has the digital age left us behind?" Wouldn't it be great if we could reliably take notes from class on a tablet and save them as PDF files? Wouldn't it be great to have all your textbooks and notes digitized and sync'd on the interwebs so you wouldn't have to make that random trip back to the lab because you left that one binder that has that one page of notes in it that you just happen to need?

    Personally, I'm looking into getting a tablet to this end for a while but have been consistently depressed that the things cost so damn much! I submit this to PF in hopes that there's someone out there who has found a good solution that isn't forbiddingly expensive and works reasonably well.

    Thanks,
    Adam
     
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  3. Sep 17, 2011 #2

    diazona

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    Re: Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    I have an Asus Transformer and I've been very happy with it. The tablet itself cost around $400, which is not exactly the cheapest, but I don't know that you would be able to get a tablet for significantly less than that without a significant drop in quality. If $400 still sounds too expensive, you could try getting a Nook or Kindle (e-book reader) and installing Android on it, but doing so does void the warranty on the device, is not guaranteed to work, and I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a lot of technical expertise.

    Of course, the bigger question is whether tablets actually work for note-taking, and I'm pretty convinced the answer is "no." A capacitive touch screen is far less precise than pencil and paper, especially when you're using a stylus. Textbooks are another matter, since you can often find them in digital form. I can attest that a tablet is great for viewing electronic resources (not only reading textbooks, but also following along with slides while at a presentation, for example). I wouldn't suggest throwing out your physical copies of the books, since sometimes you'll want to flip between widely separated pages or have 2 or 3 books laid out next to each other, but for straight reading a digital version is fine.

    P.S. If you happen to get a Transformer, there is a docking station which is sold separately that basically gives you a keyboard and touchpad as well as a second battery and additional ports. It costs around $160 or so if I remember correctly, but I'd say it's definitely worth it since it makes the tablet so much easier to use.
     
  4. Sep 18, 2011 #3
    Re: Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    Thanks for the input. This one looks pretty cool, and 400$ is a little cheaper than the ThinkPad one that I was previously looking at, but the ThinkPad does have a vpn app, which is kind of nice (does the Transformer have this?).

    Also, does the Transformer support a stylus?

    I think what I'll probably end up doing is going to some electronics stores and trying different ones out to see if the handwriting is even worth it. I would not be at all surprised to find, as you have suggested, that writing on the touch screen isnt very precise. But I can dream can't I?

    Thanks again,
    Adam
     
  5. Sep 18, 2011 #4

    diazona

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    Re: Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    The Transformer is an Android tablet, like the ThinkPad, so any app that's available for one is probably available for the other. The only exception would be if it's a preinstalled proprietary app provided by Lenovo. I've never tried VPNing from my tablet so I couldn't tell you for sure whether the capability exists. (It does depend on what kind of VPN it is.)

    On your other point, a stylus is basically just a stick with a rubber tip that won't scratch the screen. Anything with a capacitive touchscreen (i.e. pretty much all tablets and smartphones) will support a stylus.
     
  6. Sep 23, 2011 #5

    robphy

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    Re: Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    For note-taking, you need a real "Tablet-PC" (with a Wacom stylus or N-Trig stylus, and probably at least a Core2Duo processor [i.e. maybe not the Atom processor])... not these so-called touch-based "tablets" like the iPad. (The iPad is a great product... I like mine... but I don't use it for note-taking... I use a Fujitsu tabletpc.) I've been using TabletPCs since 2003... and I teach all of my classes with it as my electronic whiteboard connected to a projector.

    HP used to make relatively inexpensive tablet-pcs (tm series)... but today I don't know... especially with the TouchPad situation. I saw some very capable Fujitsu tablets at the Fujitsu outlet or on ebay... where you could find a bargain.

    Here's a slate tablet pc from Fujitsu http://ts.fujitsu.com/products/mobile/tablet_pcs/stylistic_q550.html [Broken], if you don't want an attached keyboard.
    The Fujitsu offerings are here
    http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/tabletpcs-and-notebooks.jsp?WT.svl=left1

    Here's the HP Slate 500
    http://h71016.www7.hp.com/html/Slate/index.asp (uses N-Trig, Atom)
    someone's review:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Jan 29, 2012 #6
    Re: Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    Robphy: I really appreciated your post. I would like to do something similar to what you are doing, and (even more) would like to be able to recommend it to the places I teach. Can you let me know what else to watch out for, some idea of the cost of any associated hardware (we already have the overhead projectors and connectors for laptops/tablets)? I was wondering: if you already have a computer in place (most of my rooms do) would it be possible to just buy a digitizing screen for I/O and a driver for the computer? This seems to be rather like what the Smartboard folks do, at a whole lot more cost. I am really interested in your approach and would like to recommend it, but I need to nail down the costs before I can.

    If you'd like to respond to me at my personal e-mail, please let me know. Of course, it would be best if we kept the discussion here; I have to think a lot of others would like to do it, too.
     
  8. Feb 1, 2012 #7

    robphy

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    Re: Tablet/Tablet PC for notetaking/other???

    If you wish to use the computer already in place, you could get one of these
    http://www.wacom.com/en/Products/Cintiq.aspx
    or http://www.wacom.com/en/Products/InteractiveDisplays.aspx [Broken]
    It could be expensive (e.g. here is one at CDW: http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/Wacom-Cintiq-21UX-digitizer-stylus/2014871.aspx ).
    You would probably want to run Windows 7 or later on that computer in order to take advantage of the inking capabilities (e.g. Windows Journal). [I still use XP-TabletPC edition on my Fujitsu TabletPC.]

    I personally like using a TabletPC because I can take it with me [as opposed to the desktop] and write up my notes or do my preps (e.g. a skeleton of notes to annotate, prepare other content [like links to animations or videos or simulations] ).

    Other than the projector and the cables, there's not much else.
    The software I use (Windows Journal) is part of XP-TabletPC/Vista/Windows7.
    I print the Journal files as .pdfs and upload them to a website for students to access.
    I keep the original Journal files for revision and reference.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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