Back in October I posted A Plea for Better Inking on Small Mobile Devices. It got quite a bit of response. That post came after working with the Asus R2H UMPC, as I usually do, to take notes in play rehearsals for our last production. During the recent rehearsal period for It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, I changed tools and didn’t carry the Asus R2H to rehearsals. I’ve got it up for sale, (along with a Samsung Q1P), and thought I better start weaning myself off of that device. Instead I used the Lenovo X61 Tablet PC for most of those chores and it served my needs well. Inking rocks on a Tablet PC for note taking. It could rock on a UMPC or a MID. But I fear it won’t.
Yesterday we had the first two preview performances and that is a different note taking experience. An audience is present so I can’t sit in the auditorium with a glowing screen when I’m surrounded by ticket buyers. I usually pace back and forth in the back of the theatre listening to the show and watching the audience reaction, attempting to gauge what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong so we can make corrections before opening the show.
As I was preparing to leave for the theatre, I decided to grab the Asus R2H and use that device for my preview note taking. I’m glad I did. But I’m also saddened and puzzled by prospects for the future. As I prepare to part with this device, I don’t see a suitable replacement device on the horizon from my need to take notes quickly. I need a 7Ã¢â‚¬”inch screen (up to 10 inches might do) that is light and easy to carry. Sure it can have touch, but it needs a ““hard-touchÃ¢â‚¬Â screen so that I can take notes very quickly without having to think where I’m putting my hands. Of all of the UMPCs so far, Asus is the only one who has offered this kind of experience.
Here’s what I experienced yesterday. With two full houses, I had a limited area to pace in. I was able to set the Asus R2H on a shelf when I didn’t want it in my hands, and then quickly pick it up to scribble a note. It was effortless. It was quick. It was effective and it was efficient. It was sublime.
I know from responses to the previous thread that there are other users who, like myself, need and want, and are willing to pay, for this type of Inking experience. While I firmly believe touch is a big part of the future, I also firmly believe that the rush away from Inkability is far too premature and will prove costly in the long run. All the Origami Experiences in the world don’t fill my needs with pretty interfaces that I can manipulate with my fingers. And I know I’m not alone.
I’ve said all this before and I’m repeating this hoping that someone somewhere in OEM land, or Microsoft land, or Apple land, will come to their senses. I never got into the PDA craze for the simple reason that I couldn’t take notes reliably on the devices I tried out, but so much as shifted on so many levels since then that this is now doable on mobile devices. If someone wanted to bring that type of device to market. There must be absolute fear behind the walls of the marketing fortresses where these decisions get made. Either that or a severe epidemic of short sightedness. I still can’t fathom why things are moving the way they are.
Perhaps I’m just tilting at windmills here, but I doubt it. It is my belief that whoever comes out with UMPC, or a MID, or pick an acronym for a mobile device, that contains a viable Inking experience along with a touch interface, will quickly see a rush of customers who actually want to do real work on these devices in a quick, on your feet, environment. Not only will consumers go for it, but the holy grail of profit taking, the enterprise, will to. If you can put a device in a customer’s hands that will give you the the promise of the iPhone or MIDs, or UMPCs, along with real Inkability, in my humble opinion, you’ve built the better mousetrap. Those that forsake the Inking aspect, again my opinion, are just followers trying to catch a bus without knowing where it is going. Heck, just create another Chumby or some other toy if that’s what you’re after.
Don’t forget the Inkers!
P.S. (Can you do a P.S on a blog post?) Some may wonder why I’m selling the Asus R2H if it works so well. It does as a single use device in my scenario. That single use is note taking most of the time, GPS on some trips, and media playing at other times. I’ve had the device for over a year and like it quite a bit. But my other job (life) here at GBM needs me to get ready to look at what’s new coming down the road and I’ve got to put some cash in the bank to finance a few purchases. You’ve got to love life on the bleeding edge to live it.