The best inking application for Windows that you’ll never see

Recently I posted something about Project Austin, a new digital note-taking application designed specifically for Windows 8 by Microsoft.

Project Austin had me thinking about other cool inking applications. Microsoft OneNote immediately comes to mind, but it’s really not the same. OneNote is overkill for most note taking needs. How about Windows Journal? Journal is cool, but quite limited. I think Project Austin is closer to Journal than OneNote. Nothing wrong with that, just an observation.

The inking app that I think had the greatest potential of any was an application called InkSeine. InkSeine was developed by Microsoft’s Research Team several years ago, but never made it to the market. It was available as a “beta”, but never went beyond that. I put it on my Dell XT2 back in 2009. It was aging even then, but it was really cool. You can see remnants of InkSeine in the OneNote MX radial menu, but that’s about it.

I went back to the InkSeine website – still there, but in serious need of attention – and downloaded the app. I tried to install it on my Lenovo x201t tablet PC running Windows 8 a couple of weeks ago. No luck. Bummer.

HP ElitePad 900 Windows 8 Tablet. Tah-da!

Engadget: “…the ElitePad has a premium look, marked by a machined aluminum back cover and 400-nit IPS display coated in Gorilla Glass. Also similar to the EliteBooks, it meets the military’s MIL-spec 810G durability requirements, and can withstand three-foot drops, among other accidents. All told, it weighs 1.5 pounds and measures 9.2mm thick. Going by weight, that’s more along the lines of what you’d expect from a larger, 11-inch tablet, but 1.5 pounds is still manageable, especially considering how armored this thing is.

Add to that 10 hours of runtime, a 1,280 x 800 resolution screen, an SSD, and a gaggle of accessories – docking station, “smart jackets” (seriously cool), NFC enabled pen support – and you have one impressive machine. It’s good to see someone going above and beyond and thinking outside the box a little bit.

The ElitePad 900 is scheduled to be released sometime in January of 2012. I can’t wait to see this thing in person.

Project Austin: A new not taking app from Microsoft designed specifically for Windows 8

Microsoft Blog (Visual C++ Team): “…For the past few months I’ve been working on a Windows 8 app along with a small team of developers from the Visual C++ team, we call it Project Code Name Austin.

Austin is a digital note-taking app for Windows 8. You can add pages to your notebook, delete them, or move them around. You can use digital ink to write or draw things on those pages. You can add photos from your computer, from SkyDrive, or directly from your computer’s camera. You can share the notes you create to other Windows 8 apps such as e-mail or SkyDrive.”

When I saw “Project Austin” start showing up on tech blogs over the last couple of days I have to admit I got pretty excited. I’m a tablet PC guy to the core, and one of my favorite things about tablet PCs is their inking ability, i.e. I can use them in place of pen and paper for a great many things. No other tablet OS – iOS, Android, webOS – has been able to give me the same experience; not even close.

According to the Microsoft blog Project Austin is “a very simple digital replacement to the real paper notebooks people carry around to meetings at work, to school, around the house, where they scribble things and take quick notes.” That’s all I want. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. The blog post goes on to say “Austin doesn’t aspire to be a full-featured note-taking app such as OneNote. It doesn’t give you a way to organize your notes other than by their position in the book, it also doesn’t enable typing or searching.” Perfect.  I have nothing against OneNote. OneNote is fantastic, and I use it all the time, but it’s overkill for most things. And Microsoft Journal, while good for taking quick notes, just doesn’t always cut it.

Two other things that really made me take notice of Project Austin were: 1) it is supposed to be deeply integrated with Microsoft SkyDrive, which is getting better and better everyday. It’s still not on par with many other cloud based storage/syncing/sharing applications out there, but it’s gaining ground; and 2) “ [Microsoft is] making the majority of the source code available for download here.  We also plan to publish a series of blog posts here in the Visual C++ Team Blog talking about our experience building it, and some of the technologies we used.” I’ve been hammering on my brother, Robert, for a few months to build me a better note-taking app for Windows 8. He and I have talked about it a couple of times and I’ve even gone as far as to start sketching out the design and requirements for “my note-taking app“. Microsoft apparently read my mind. Scary and cool all at the same time.

What can I say, I’m excited. I’m newly energized about the potential for the host of new Windows 8 tablets hitting the market over the next year. It’s a great time to be a tablet PC guy.

Windows haters out in full force following Surface announcement

I’ve been reading quite a bit online about yesterday’s announcement for Microsoft’s Surface tablet. As I mentioned last night, I’m thrilled. But I can’t say the same for everyone else. For some inexplicable reason there’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of negative press online today in regards to Surface. Some are simply Microsoft haters, others Window haters, and of course there’s the Apple fanboys, and so on.

Many are comparing Surface to the iPad which is ridiculous as they’re completely different machines. That’s simply not the right comparison to make. I’ve written about my thoughts on that before so I won’t bore you by repeating myself here. Suffice it to say, one is a mobile OS and the other isn’t.
Continue reading Windows haters out in full force following Surface announcement

People are irrational

Two disclaimers:

  1. To be absolutely clear, this is a rant. Sometimes I rant to my wife, other times on paper. This time I felt compelled to throw it up here.
  2. I’m a tablet PC fan, and this is my opinion. If you have an alternate opinion, that’s cool. If you want to talk about tablets with me, by all means let’s talk. I love it when people show me cool things they’ve done with their tablets. But if you want to argue with me about my opinion, fell free to stay away. People that want to counter my opinion with useless drivel tend to do nothing more than make me think less of them than I already do. And trust me when I say that I have a pretty low opinion of most people to start with. Not all people mind you, but many. It’s unfortunate I know, but society in general has done little to change my mind.

Ok, let’s begin ….
Continue reading People are irrational

If I were to buy a tablet today…

imageI’m always on the lookout for a new tablet, and never more so then I am at this moment. My trusty Lenovo X201T is getting old. At more than a year, it’s downright ancient in computer technology years. It’s a dilemma to be sure.

Fortunately for me there’s no shortage of tablets on the market: Windows OS, Android OS, iOS. Crud, based on reports from CES 2012 I’ll have a much bigger selection within another 6 months or so.

Continue reading If I were to buy a tablet today…

A tablet for the pool, the Fujitsu Arrows Tab LTE F-01D

The Fujitsu Arrow Tab LTE F-01D is similar to many tablets currently on the market today. It has all the goodies like a 10.1-inch 1280 x 768 screen, a 1GHz dual-core processor, a pair of cameras, 16GB of storage, micro-USB, microSD card slot, and Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Now for the really cool stuff, it’s waterproof and obeys gesture commands via its front facing camera.

Continue reading A tablet for the pool, the Fujitsu Arrows Tab LTE F-01D

Is the Motion J3500 still the best Win-Slate on the market?

j3500To borrow a phrase from Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, I’ve been doing a “hard-target search” recently for a new tablet PC. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Lenovo x201 Tablet PC, but I really want to try another slate.

In my mind the ASUS Eee Slate EP121 (who comes up with these names?) is currently the best tablet PC slate on the market. I’ve spent quite a bit of time messing around with it at the Microsoft Retail Store at Bellevue Square in Washington. The employees in there must think I’m some kind of stalker.

As far as the EP121 goes the inking is great, the touchscreen responsive, it’s fast, it’s the perfect size and it just “feels right” in my hands. So what’s the problem? The battery life is terrible? The information on the tablet states that the battery life is less than 3 hours. Online reviews have it at about 2 hours. That’s ridiculously bad in this day of hi-tech.

I looked hard at the Motion Computing CL900, but just don’t think it has enough muscle for me. It’s a bit slow and clunky. That’s a bummer as on the surface the CL900 looks like the perfect device.

While rummaging around the Motion Computing website for information on the CL900 I stumbled across an old friend, the Motion J3500. I’ve used it’s predecessor, the J3400 before and it was a great machine. I found the J3400 to be a good mix of functionality, toughness and battery life. With upgrades to the hard drive, processor and display the J3500 may just be the best option currently available, which says something about the tablet market; the J3500 is over a year old.

Taking a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet

I know, I know, Android tablets are starting to stack up all over the place. A week doesn’t go by that another Android tablet hits the market. This week it’s the 8-inch Vizio tablet making the rounds.

However, it wasn’t the Vizio tablet that captured my attention this week. It was the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. According to the Lenovo website it should be available at the end of this month.

I already have a couple of Lenovo machines – a T410S laptop and a x201 tablet pc – so it’s not much of a leap for me to be excited about the introduction of a Lenovo Android slate.

What separates this Android tablet from others is that it is targeted at business users. This basically means it comes preloaded with some productivity software as well as a couple of other nice touches like Gorilla Glass, ThinkPad Tablet Dock, ThinkPad Tablet Pen and foldable ThinkPad Tablet Keyboard Folio case.

Specifications:

  • NVIDIA® Tegraâ„¢ 2 Dual-Core 1GHz processor
  • Androidâ„¢ 3.1
  • 10.1” WXGA (1280×800) 16:10 IPS panel with Corning® Gorilla® Glass
  • Multitouch display with digitizer input (pen optional)
  • Starting at 1.65 lbs
  • Up to 8 hours battery life (with WiFi enabled)
  • Up to 64GB storage
  • Bluetooth®, WiFi and 3G connectivity
  • Native USB 2.0 and micro-USB ports, full-size SD card slot and mini-HDMI output

I really like what the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet has to offer. I’ve been patiently waiting for the right Android slate to come along before I purchase another device. I was convinced that the Samsung Galaxy 10.1-inch tablet was it, but I think I’ll wait for the Lenovo to make my final decision. 

 

Lenovo continues to impress, this time with customer service

I’ve been using a Lenovo T410S for several months now. It’s a great machine, but I’m not here to talk about that. Recently I took the T410S on a trip and busted the case just to the left of the trackpad. Bummer.

I jumped online and opened a ticket with Lenovo through their customer service portal. A few days later a box with appropriate shipping materials arrived. I packed it up, delivered it to the UPS store and sent it on its way. A few days later I logged into the Lenovo customer service site to check the progress of my repair. Imagine my surprise when I entered my ticket number and nothing appeared. A few minutes later I was on the phone to Lenovo. The gentleman on the phone was polite and courteous, but ultimately he couldn’t help me because my help ticket was no longer in their system. Doh!

Needless to say I was in a bit of a tiff wondering what the heck happened to my laptop. The next day I called the UPS store only to find out they couldn’t help me either. Double doh! Anyway, as I was ranting to my wife and threatening to hurt people I’d never met there was a knock at the door. When I opened it there was the UPS man headed back to his truck, and on the doorstep was my laptop freshly repaired by Lenovo.

Lenovo came through like a champ. They turned the repair around in just a few days and returned my machine to me in perfect condition. It just doesn’t get any better than that.