I took my iPhone and a HP Convertible Tablet PC (from work) to Autodesk University. It was the first time I’d travelled with both and the differences, in form and function, in real world use* were revealing.
That experience was at the forefront of my mind as I watched the iPad “reveal” and why I found it distinctly underwhelming.
* If a conference in Las Vegas can be considered “real world”!
What is it about “Ink” that makes it more than writing (analog or digital) or typing?
The MindManager map (right) was inked on a Tablet during an AU session on Revit. The key advantage over typing is its less intrusive, literally a digital pad/pen, and far more flexible.
With MindManager (or other apps like One Note) you can mix sketch and text, capture links (as links) and shift notes around if you need more room.
As many AU sessions are not linear – Introduction followed by related demonstration - I find that really valuable as you can squeeze additional topics into notes made earlier (impossible with paper).
The huge advantage of “Ink” is the recognised text behind the note (even without conversion) is searchable. In spite of the scrawl that is my hand writing MindManager knew one of those notes (below) related to curtain walls and found it. Recognition is what makes “ink” Ink and more than just marks on a screen.
- Imagine searching all your AU notes for a given topic? Tedious if they are dumb marks on a pad (analog or digital). A few seconds with Ink.
- Imagine typing the note below on a netbook? You couldn’t unless you have superb and rapid ASCII art skills!
A digital pad, with text recognition, can combine the best of both worlds for input and find anything in seconds.
Mindjet iPhone as a (key)note taker.
I used Mindjet on the iPhone to take notes in some sessions. Main reason was the tiny form factor meant it was easier to work, even compared to a Tablet PC in slate mode, in the tight seating layout. With the Map Info > White Background > Off (in the map) the phone also makes an unobtrusive platform for notes in a dimly lit room. Working on a tablet/laptop/netbook sized white screen would be like holding a torch, really annoying to those around you. By the way Mindjet, it’s a pity the Topic Edit screen doesn’t honour the map background setting for a true “low light mode”.
The resulting notes, typo’s and all, are seen below (click to view full resolution)
Is there a gap between iPhone & Notebook?
If, and it’s a big IF, the iPhone form factor could handle Ink I think you’d get away without a larger platform at all. The Tablet is nice to work on, literally a digital pad, but the downside is carrying/powering a larger device. Given I’m going to be travelling with a phone and likely to have a more powerful laptop (of some sort) I can’t see the need to fill that gap on the move, or even in the office. When the phone isn’t enough it’s generally because I need the space/power/flexibility of a more substantial platform. I still want My Perfect PC, a mobile workstation with pen/touch/ink input but it seems nobody has seen that gap as a viable market!