Friday, February 5, 2010

Quick note to posters of inking videos:

How a tablet PC "inks," or how it handles handwriting with a stylus is one of my primary concerns when looking at a new device. There are a lot of considerate individuals out there helping people who care about inking by posting videos of inking on various devices.

In fact, type the model of a tablet PC along with the term "inking" into Google and there's a pretty good chance it'll find a video for you. I don't want to demean or insult anyone who helps people out by making such videos. However, a lot of the videos are lacking a few things. I've made a list of requests, okay, rules, for making inking videos more helpful to people like myself:

    -First of all, calibrate your touchscreen.

    -Try to make sure the device's screen is in the camera's focus. I know this is hard as most people don't have camcorders that allow you to set manual focus, but if you could it would greatly help. If your camera is unable maintain a static focus on your tablet's screen, write a bit (out of focus) then hold the tablet up to the camera and let it focus so people can at least see the quality of the results in better detail.

    -Make your camera stationary. You're probably looking at the tablet, not the camera's viewfinder. I'm not a big fan of your crotch or the ceiling of your kitchen. Set the camera on a pillow if you don't have a tripod, and work out the blocking beforehand. Move the tablet to stay in the camera's range, not the other way around.

    -Be consistent. Write small and slow, then small and fast, big and slow, then big and fast.

    -Try to write as small as you can. People in inking demonstrations tend to write big text, which is great, but not how people like myself intend to use the device on a day-to-day basis.

    -I think part of the problem is that people don't know what to write, so they write things like "Hello" in big letters. If you can't think of something to write, write the first few sentences of the Gettysburg Address (Four score and seven years ago...) or something else you've probably got committed to memory. A favorite poem. The lyrics to your favorite song.

    -If you're comfortable doing it, swipe the stylus off of the screen so we can see how near you can get to the screen's bezel and still write.

    -I repeat: Please try to write as small as you can, as fast as you can, then as slow as required for the text to be legible. Then hold the tablet up to the camera for better focus and detail. This would be extremely helpful.

As I see it, most people want such videos to answer the question, "Could this device replace, say, a legal pad?"

Once again I mean no insult or offense to anyone who has taken time out of their day to post demonstration videos for the benefit of others. That said, I think that following these guidelines would help others even more in deciding whether or not to buy a certain device.


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