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Preliminary Thoughts on Inking on the Slate 500
Used Tablet PC
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Thread: Preliminary Thoughts on Inking on the Slate 500

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    St. Louis, MO, USA.

    Default Preliminary Thoughts on Inking on the Slate 500

    Inking, Aspect Ratio and Digitizer Operation - A Multi-Dimensional Relationship

    The following remarks are based on slightly less than one week's use of my newly-arrived Slate 500. For this reason, my comments should be regarded as preliminary, but note that they are also based on years of experience with tablets. My hope is that other Slate 500 owners on this forum will add their thoughts and impressions and, by doing so, we will all better understand what it is reasonable to expect when it comes to inking on the Slate 500.

    <> With regard to form factors that support inking, the Slate 500 is somewhat unique. The size of the screen, in square area, makes it much more than a iPAQ or a PDA, but it is significantly smaller than a "normal" tabletPC. This is significant because your hand is a fixed size; therefore, devices that are intended to be manipulated with your hands will logically have certain dimensional constraints.

    <> The Slate's aspect ratio, at 16:9-ish, makes it oddly-sized compared to an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of paper, which most Americans are acclimated to as the "standard" writing space. The 8.5 x 11 size intrinsically incorporates considerations for the size of the average human hand. By comparison, the Slate in landscape mode looks wide enough, but not "high" enough. Conversely, in portrait mode, the Slate seems high enough, but looks too narrow. A subtle but important factor is that the 16:9 aspect ratio was not derived from considerations of the hand or its kinematics (the way it moves).

    <> The Slate's digitizer was likely designed with certain human factors in mind. For example, when considering palm rejection, it seems likely that the designers expected a certain average square area to be sensed so that the digitizer's logic could declare that this was a palm (and could reject the input as a second touch). Alternatively, the designers may have established that a "touch," located at a certain position relative to another touch, is likely a palm print (and can therefore be rejected). The subtlety here is that: 1) The user's hand must be resting normally on the active area of the digitizer, or... 2) The user's hand must be oriented relative to the screen in a "normal" way such that the two "touches" fall within the nominal relationship defined by the designers.

    <> IMO, the N-trig pen has some electronic and mechanical problems that require a bit of fine-tuning. Again, this is just my opinion, but I do have the advantage that I can freely compare the Gen 2 HP and Fujitsu battery-powered pens with the Gen 1 Dell and HP battery-less pens. At the moment, the Gen 1 N-trig hardware, running the most current software bundle on a "full sized" 12" screen, is superior to the Gen 2 N-trig hardware and its latest software bundle. This is a puzzling circumstance because N-trig surely would have incorporated the development and lessons learned from their Gen 1 product into their Gen 2 product, wouldn't they? That leads to the thought that perhaps there is more at play here than just the digitizer hardware and software...

    So, with these thoughts in mind, my theory is that some significant share of the difficulties with inking that have been reported by some new Slate owners is attributable to a combination of the factors described. In particular:

    <> When inking in landscape mode, and especially when entering text in text boxes, I notice that my palm seems to get moved off the active digitizer area fairly quickly (not "high" enough), and as it starts to overlap the edges of the screen (and the edge of the Slate itself!), I seem to observe more inking anomalies. Under these circumstances, I also frequently find myself holding my hand in odd or abnormal positions that the digitizer probably finds confusing.

    <> Conversely, and somewhat ironically, I find that inking in portrait mode actually seems more comfortable because I can rest my palm solidly on the screen for longer periods of time. By the time that my hand starts to get pushed off the edge of the screen, I seem to have accomplished more inking. By comparison, the "narrowness" of the screen is not as troubling to me as the often precarious positioning of my hand when in landscape mode.

    <> Some of this may be why Dual mode does not work as effectively as one would have hoped, and why some have reported trouble with inadvertently switching (getting inadvertent touches) when in Auto mode. I believe that pen issues probably aggravate some of these problems, but I am also beginning to think that the Slate's form factor is partially a player.

    So. Is the Slate a bad product? No, of course not. But the Slate may embody some form factor elements that interact in ways that we aren't used to and that we have to learn to accommodate. The operation of N-trig's hardware may seem like the most obvious immediate issue with the Slate, but is it possible that even the most perfect digitizer that we could imagine might still be seen to have operational issues because of other factors in this new product...?

    Just some thoughts for your consideration.

  2. Default

    There are some odd glitches with the interface. Not debilitating issues but some oddities here and there.

    When you are waking yours up from hibernation, have you tried typing a capital letter as the first character of the password to login? When I do that the cap only stays active for a second and then reverts back to lower case. I often just use the caps lock to hit the capital letters when initially logging in.

    You are right, the screen aspect ratio is interesting. Not quite as wide as I would like sometimes and rather tall in some ways. While odd in some instances it works wonderfully for reading Kindle books.

    The good side of this is that it is really easy to carry around and if I can find a folio case with a bluetooth keyboard that fits it better than my Tsirtech (made for the ipad) then it will likely go nearly everywhere with me.

    The included case is fine but I wish it worked better for propping the Slate upright. Are you using the factory folio case?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    St. Louis, MO, USA.


    around: Sorry for the delayed response. I didn't immediately notice your posting.

    <<...have you tried typing a capital letter as the first character of the password to login?..>>

    ...Yes, I have. From a cold start, the shift key on the log on screen will stay active for about 3 seconds, more than long enough to type the letter of my choice. If I don't type a letter, the shift key reverts after ~3 seconds. The Caps key remains active until I tap it to toggle it off. From Hibernate, the shift key simply stays active. I have to either type a letter or tap it again to toggle it off.

    <<...Are you using the factory folio case?..>>

    ...For the moment, yes; but like you, I think that the folio could be significantly improved in several ways. See post # 67 here:


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