Tablet PC – A Student's Perspective

One Note, Note Taking and Powertoys

Posts Tagged ‘tablet pc’

Marking up PDF’s

Posted by anirudhsaraf on March 11, 2008

There are several solutions/ workaround to getting this done. I just want to share my thoughts on some of them

1) Print to OneNote : This method works pretty well for single page/ small pdf files. A major disadvantage though is the loss of page demarcation as printing just puts them all together. All together a clumsy solution if the PDF is more than a few pages. Also printing large pdf files takes a very long time.

2) PDF Annotator : Great for filling out forms etc. since it opens the PDF file directly. No need for conversion. It however takes a serious performance hit for large files with frequent errors. It’s better than OneNote since it atleast retains the formatting but fails when it comes to annotating large PDF’s. I also find the double scrollbar really irritating.

3) Windows Journal : I just discovered it yesterday 🙂 I assume most users neglect Journal in favor of OneNote. However the minimalistic nature of Journal is simply great for marking up PDF’s. I printed a 600 page pdf to journal in less than a minute. Journal also gave each page in the PDF it’s own page. In my opinion it beats OneNote and PDF Annotator for annotating PDF’s. PDF annotator has the advantage that it can work directly with PDF files, but Journal coupled with PrimoPDF ( free PDF printer) can achieve the same effect. So if you have large PDF files ( e-books) which you want to mark up, give Journal a try. Note: There is a loss of quality when using the Journal Writer. Thus if the PDF is not of high quality, you are better off using PDF Annotator I think.

Sample Renderings of a PDF Page

1) Adobe Reader


2) OneNote


3) PDF Annotator


Along with the frequent error message


4) Windows Journal


Does anyone have a better solution? Feel free to comment on how you mark up those PDF’s.


Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

NoteTaking in Class and What it is Like

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 25, 2007

Apart from all the ooh’s and aah’s and the surreptitious looks, what is it like to take notes in class on a tablet PC? I remember the frantic anticipation I had when I ordered my first tablet. Having only scribbled on one owned by an acquaintance, I had no idea what it would be like to take notes on one. My only experience with “handwriting” was on a PDA, and that was not really flattering.

To those debating whether to get one, let me put all your anxieties to rest. It is absolutely totally worth it :). Now that in the typical college style I have stated my conclusion, let me go ahead and support it.

Does it fell like paper when you write on it ?

Its different, but better. Its a little smoother than paper, but you get used to it pretty quickly. Besides I love writing on my tablet, so as a result I take copious notes. Earlier I would only write what I felt was absolutely necessary, but now I write down almost everything. The pen flows smoothly and the writing is instant, no lags on the modern tablet.

What about Converting Notes and Handwriting Recognition ?

You have a tablet, why do you want to convert notes to typed text? Handwriting recognition works well if are browsing the web in tablet mode but if you want to convert class notes, forget it. Apart from conversion issues ( bad handwriting !!!) you loose most of your formatting. So stick with your handwriting. I am sure you can read it 🙂.

In Theory you want this to happen



What actually happens



Thus handwriting recognition works for small neatly written text. For hurried class notes, which sometimes even I find difficult to read, I shouldn’t really expect the computer to be able to convert it, should I?

Am I paperless ?

Relatively paperless. I still have to print my homework. Unfortunately professors don’t accept email attachments :(. And don’t forget to tell them that you have a tablet and thats why your Homework is printed !!. Most professors agree to email you the handouts if you ask them, or if you are willing you can just go ahead and scan them in. One note has an inbuilt OCR, enabling you to search the text withing images. All in all, it cuts down the paper clutter by 80%, while increasing organization efficiency ten-fold.

How do I take Notes? What software do I use ?

ONE NOTE, need I say anything else? For those wondering what one note is, it is part of Microsoft Office. It is the best there is for note taking. Once you start using it, you’ll never use anything else. Apart from One Note there aren’t many other tablet specific software you’ll need ( unless you plan on drawig /art).

What about Gaming ?

The big question I had when I decided to get a tablet was “Would it mean the end of all gaming” ? Thankfully the absence of a separate graphics card (on most tablets) does not mean you can’t play an occasional game. Given you won’t have superb graphics, but FIFA 08 runs beautifully on mine. So all I need to carry is my controller, and I am all set when I need a break :). As long as you game once in a while and don’t care a lot about high definition graphics, you should be fine.

Below is a screenshot of FIFA running on my tablet.

Which Tablet would I recommend?

Having had only the HP tc4400 ( you get get them for a bargain at the HP refurb outlet) I can’t really make an accurate judgement as to which tablet you should purchase. However a few pointers

  • Most tablets are 12″. Trust me you don’t want a bigger one. Buy an external monitor instead. Any bigger and you’ll be crying about how big and heavy it is to carry around.
  • Waccom v/s FinePoint : A few of Gateway models have Finepoint technology while most others use Waccom Enabled pen. What is the difference? From my research (note I don’t have first hand experience) it appears that Finepoint doesn’t have any pressure sensitivity. For note taking this shouldn’t make much of a difference. But for those wanting to use it for drawing, art etc. this may be an issue. So for simple note taking going with the Gateway’s Finepoint tablet may be cost saving.
  • The new HPCompaq TC 1100 HP TX1000 ( Thanks Barbara for pointing out the mistake) is NOT ideal for notetaking. It uses neither Finepoint nor Waccom, but has a touchscreen and a stylus. If you want a computer with a flip screen and very occasional tablet features then go for it, otherwise stay away.

So go ahead and invest in that Tablet. You won’t be making a mistake :).

Let me know if there are any other issues you want addressed.

Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Graphing in One Note

Posted by anirudhsaraf on October 14, 2007

A few tips for Graphing in One Note :-

One of the issues with using the drawing tool in one note is that by the time you draw the graph the professor has already gone ahead. Freehand drawing results in crooked lines and an untidy looking graph (bear with us non-artists). If I was using paper I wouldn’t really complain but since its a tablet pc my expectations are higher. I want people to look at my graph and go wow, not say that their notes, taken by hand are much cleaner and neater.

A nifty trick I use is to zoom into the graph while drawing. This way my lines, drawn freehand are relatively straight when I zoom back in and I can make markings on the graph easily. While drawing my Graph I zoom in to 150% and switch to thicker pen as it looks way better. Then when I finish drawing the graph I zoom back to 75%, my normal note taking mode, with my graph looking nice and neat.

Beware : Sometimes onenote may take a while to zoom in and out, but thankfully it happens rarely.


A Relatively Neat Looking Graph


The Graph at 150% Zoom

Notice how the lines are not so crooked when you zoom back in. Also in the zoomed mode I can write in my normal handwriting ( as opposed to in the normal mode) on the graph without messing it up. So what do other people do to improve their Graphs?

Posted in One Note Usage, OneNote | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »