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The_Neverending_Loop

Tablet for note Taking

29 posts in this topic

It takes me about 2.5 hours of commute time to get to work and back everyday, I usually read during the commute to be somewhat productive. I recently purchased a textbook that I'm really interested in reading and applying, and the best way to learn is to actually do so I want to do all the excersises and problems the book gives.

Basically I thought why not purchase a somewhat small to medium size tablet with a good battery life and using a note taking app to work out the problems. As working with paper can get very messy (especially on a train) and I feel it might be worth a shot to try out a tablet for note taking.

Currently Im considering the google Nexus, but I wanted to hear from the community about what tablet they would recommend with a good battery life and a good touch display (I want to use a style to do my writing), and also what note taking app they would recommend if any. Thank you for your time.
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Personally, I would wait a bit for some good Windows 8/Windows RT tablet with pen support, if note taking is important to you. It might not be the best option.
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I love my tablet, but it's horrible for typing. You'd probably be better off with a bigger phone that had a pull down keyboard.
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I haven't tried using my Nexus 7 tablet for note taking, so don't have any suggestions there, but the battery life on it is great. I have mine over-clocked from 1.2Ghz to 1.6Ghz and I still don't need to charge every day, unless I play a lot of some of the more resource intensive games like Dead Trigger. So for general use, the battery should be more than sufficient.
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@Len,

There is no touch feedback when you hit anything, so you never feel like you are typing anything. Also the keyboard is just another app that is running, and is subject to all kinds of slowdowns and other nonsense. Also very easy to hit the wrong letter(s) if you hit on the border of 2 or more. So it takes forever to type anything. Moving the cursor, or copying and pasting is very slow to do.

----

My Asus transformer has an optional keyboard dock that turns it into a netbook and extends the battery. Or there are bluetooth rubber roll-up keyboards.
http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/edc1/

Netbook is cheaper and has a keyboard. Probably better off.
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Google Nexus 7 is what I would go with. I haven't bought it myself yet, but the price vs battery time alone are enticing enough to compel serious consideration.
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I personally uses ipad. currently it depend on the software wheter its easy or not to do the note taking. however, there are two bluetooth pen coming out, but still not available here locally. So things might improve then.

but only for simple note taking (write ups). other than that i uses the screen keyboard.
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I love using my Samsung galaxy tab 2 7.0" with stylus. One of the coolest applications I have found for taking notes is FreeNote. Freenote lets you write with your finger or stylus, but also gives keyboard if you want. The notes can be easily shared to places like Facebook and Twitter as images.

The only reason I bought this tablet is for taking notes at my lessons, because my netbooks battery is not long enough and typing some notes or drawing with the touchpad can be annoying. Why I usually opted to use paper for noting, but now I can write on the tablet and later print my notes if I want to.
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I would not recommend a tablet for what you're planning. Seriously, and I say this as someone who has spent years developing tablet software. A tablet is intended as and designed as a consumption-only device. The user journeys are all designed around consumption, especially commercial consumption. You will find the user experience trying to use them for anything alse (except maybe stopping a door open) will be frustratingly poor.

If you really insist on using a tablet for computer-style interaction, I would recommend something like the Asus Transformer. You can at least stick a keyboard on it, and you can root it and install an alternative OS that allows more than passive reaction. Commercial distribution of the more useful converged phones are still a year or two away.
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[quote name='Bregma' timestamp='1345289543' post='4970804']
I would not recommend a tablet for what you're planning. Seriously, and I say this as someone who has spent years developing tablet software. A tablet is intended as and designed as a consumption-only device. The user journeys are all designed around consumption, especially commercial consumption. You will find the user experience trying to use them for anything alse (except maybe stopping a door open) will be frustratingly poor.
[/quote]

I do not see how tablets are meant only for consumption, because I am writing this post with my tablet. FreeNote app for example is not meant for consumption, but for note production and it allows moving the notes to other places where you can consume them. Of course there exists ton of applications for tablets which are for consumption, but also tools like FTP, text editors. I love how I can use Google drive to write documents on my tablet and discuss with my friends on skype.
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I was looking into the Asus transformer, because they come with this exclusive app. Check it out it looks pretty cool, you can create you'r own notebooks for different topics, type and write equations on the screen as well as take pictures and add it to your notes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjJQecbr9Jg

Now if people are saying that the tablet surfaces aren't too responsive when used to write on with a stylus then that's what would give me second thoughts.
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The problem with that video is that it's a marketing video showing the ideal circumstances (I'm on a Transformer right now, been using it for a year). The problem comes when ANDROID enters the mix. They don't show the sluggishness, the 5-10 second delays, the order of your commands getting mixed up, or the fact that any program at any time can bomb to the desktop because the OS is flaky as hell. The Java Virtual Machine that runs all software goes batshit insane at random intervals and makes any app run afterwards do random things until you reboot.

They also don't show when you get a firmware upgrade overnight that breaks every single app, and you have to wait for each of them to update with a specific fix for your exact device model + firmware. Asus android forks are also prone to random reboots, it took them 4 firmware patches to somewhat fix it, at the cost of other issues being introduced. 1 firmware patch even broke the keyboard, and random characters would come out for each keypress.

An Android device cannot be trusted to do the simplest things. Everyone has flaky hardware, with flaky custom forks of a flakier OS. I say this as a guy who has 3 tablets, and wants to get a Nexus 7 soon. It's just not there yet as a serious OS. You'll find that out the hardway when your note software bombs to the desktop without warning and you lose everything, or another app like G+ (That never goes away) opens in the background and the JVM bombs and corrupts all the memory in every app. There goes your notes!

A netbook running windows at least has a stable OS and stable software.
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I have a netbook (an Eee with a charging cord that my basset hound decided was fun to chew on), and I love it. However, it's not really fit for exactly what I want to do. I'm in a vehicle all day, and I need to track, map, and organize a lot of information without waiting for the OS to wake up every time I need it. Battery life is also very important. I was very curious about the Asus Transformer, but I just ordered a Nexus 7 instead.

I admit, I'm worried about what my experience with this device will be. It hasn't arrived yet at the time of this writing. I'm not looking for an entertainment device, I'm looking for organization, mapping, etc.



Also, why is it that dogs never seem to get shocked when they chew up your power cords?
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[quote name='shurcool' timestamp='1345267114' post='4970734']
Personally, I would wait a bit for some good Windows 8/Windows RT tablet with pen support, if note taking is important to you. It might not be the best option.
[/quote]

I'd go with this mostly because they're coming out in 2 months, and if they hit the rumored $200 price point with the RT it will be a steal. Windows RT devices will also all come with One Note, which is a pretty awesome program for exactly what you want.

I want a tablet sometime soon as well, but I'm thinking I'll hold off till November/Christmas because there are so many great things that are just around the corner, and by that time there should be real world reviews of windows 8, which looks at least like it has the potential to be the best tablet OS. It may not be executed well, but just off what they've showed the potential is there.

edit: one thing I'd definitely be on the lookout for is something with a stylus. I'm always surprised by how few tablets have any sort of stylus support. It's a large reason I haven't bought one previously. Edited by way2lazy2care
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@Daaark, that they do, and there's a bluetooth keyboard available even if the screen is pretty small.
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[quote name='Daaark' timestamp='1345302985' post='4970841']
An Android device cannot be trusted to do the simplest things. Everyone has flaky hardware, with flaky custom forks of a flakier OS. I say this as a guy who has 3 tablets, and wants to get a Nexus 7 soon. It's just not there yet as a serious OS. You'll find that out the hardway when your note software bombs to the desktop without warning and you lose everything, or another app like G+ (That never goes away) opens in the background and the JVM bombs and corrupts all the memory in every app. There goes your notes!
[/quote]

Were you running Google's factory images, or images that had been modified by the manufacturer of the device? I ask because my first Android phone was made by Huawei, and had a custom image that they had modified, and it was flaky as you described. Since then I have only used Nexus devices with images provided by Google and have not had any instability at all.

Though, even on my Nexus 7 Tablet which is running a WIP ROM with a custom kernel, I still haven't had any issues.
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How well do most capacitive styluses work?

An obvious one to look at would be Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 that was recently released, that supports a pressure sensitive stylus (or if you want something smaller, there's the Galaxy Note smartphone). The Galaxy Note seems to have been designed around the idea of taking notes, so hopefully also has better software support as standard, and wasn't simply designed for consumption, as Bregma says is a problem with many tablets (well, I haven't used a Galaxy Note, but it seems worth taking a look to see what if offers). The Microsoft Surface will also do so. (The problem with most capacitive screens has been that they aren't pressure sensitive and don't work with most styluses, unlike the older resistive touchscreens - the "capacitive styluses" tend to have a rounded end rather than a pointed end. But Samsung and MS appear to have now solved the problem of making touchscreens with the best of both worlds.)

If you're looking at the larger side of tablets, and are willing to wait, I think it's worth waiting until Windows 8, as I suspect we'll see plenty of interesting new devices to choose from, which will have all the functionality of full blown PCs. (This is my plan - currently I have a Samsung netbook, but I'm looking forward to the idea of something even more lightweight, with touchscreen, but still with a real keyboard and a full computer non-phone-derived OS. And hopefully with a resolution higher than 1024x600 too!)

OTOH if you just want a device for one thing, and are okay with a capacitive styluses, the Nexus 7 looks to be a great tablet at a decent price. (I have the Galaxy Nexus, basically a smaller phone version of the same thing.) But you'd need to get your own note-taking/doodling software, as vanilla Android doesn't come with any. Do you currently have an Android smartphone? (As in, an obvious thing would be to try out software in advance, then it's just a question of if you want a larger screen - otherwise, it's a case of asking for recommendations.) Edited by mdwh
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[quote name='LennyLen' timestamp='1345468120' post='4971454']
Were you running Google's factory images, or images that had been modified by the manufacturer of the device? I ask because my first Android phone was made by Huawei, and had a custom image that they had modified, and it was flaky as you described. Since then I have only used Nexus devices with images provided by Google and have not had any instability at all.
[/quote]
There is really no such thing as a "Google factory image." Every single Android image installed is a custom fork. Android is not Android (heh, I call dibs on the initialism for "Andoid is Not a Universal Standard). Not only that, but the OEMs generally have no clue, or even desire, to support their images in the long run. If you're working with a typical OEM and need the source for their image, you get a zipfile of the developer's personal source tree. Not even a git repo you can run diffs on. It's a <offensive adjective> nightmare.
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[quote name='Bregma' timestamp='1345473237' post='4971479']
There is really no such thing as a "Google factory image."
[/quote]

[url="https://developers.google.com/android/nexus/images"]Google would beg to differ[/url] ;)
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[quote name='LennyLen' timestamp='1345478980' post='4971509']
[quote name='Bregma' timestamp='1345473237' post='4971479']
There is really no such thing as a "Google factory image."
[/quote]
[url="https://developers.google.com/android/nexus/images"]Google would beg to differ[/url] ;)
[/quote]
Google has their factory image they send to their factory for their device, yes. It won't work on any other device. You can't build it from source, either. Android is not Android. The world of Android and mobile hardware is radically different from Windows and bog-standard PC hardware. Do not think the OEMs and carriers are happy with the current situation (and don't think the OEMs and channel resellers were happy with the PC/Windows situation, either). The only people who have been at all happy lately are the veritically-integrated concerns like Apple and maybe the console manufacturers. Why do you think Microsoft now has a tablet and an app store? Why do they have a games console and a walled-garden network experience?

As to the original thread of using a tablet for taking notes, yes, it can be done. You can be trained to use it for such a purpose, just as goldfish can be trained, and you can crow about it. But, just like many other simplistic demonstrations, when it comes to serious usage you'll find you need the right tool for the job. If by note taking you mean updating your Facebook status and sending tweets between looking at pictures of kittens, it's great. If you mean writing a few hundred lines of notes before looking up, you will quickly find your $700 toy is not the tool you're looking for and a $300 netbook is a better bet (and a $700 ultrabook is best). These are the prices in local money I've recently paid for these devices, your local mileage may vary.
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Note that if you can always get a $30 (or less) bluetooth keyboard for your tablet if you're going to wind up doing more typing that expected.
Also, Wacom sells really nice pens for $30 that work well for writing on tablets.
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I would need it to work out mathimatical-esque problems, I cant do that with a netbook or notebook. Keep in mind I travel about 2.5 hours a day on public transportation, I would take out pen and paper and try to work out problems (if I can find a seat) but managing papers on a train can be annoying even if you have all the space you need. If there are no seats (which is the case alot of times if you live in a major city) I can't do anything but read. But the way i learn is by doing all the problems in the book as they come along.

The reason I thought a tablet might be convenient (though a expensive convenience) is because of the following things.

1. If I dont have a seat, I can not work out problems or jot down notes (I need something to press against and if I'm standing up I dont have a surface to press against). Now if I had a tablet I could even work out problems standing up.

2. Handling paper can be very annoying especially when one problem takes you 2 or more pages to complete. If anyone here has taken a high level physics or any science course for that matter (I'm also currently going to school partime to finish a degree in phsyics and mathematics) they know that many times problems span multiple pages, flipping back and forth between pages to complete one problem makes it easy for you to lose your place or train of thought. If I had a tablet I could simply scroll up and then, then constantly flip the page to its back side to see where I was going.

3. Trying to find old notes that you have jumbled in some pieces of loose paper or a notebook can be time consuming, I can search for text I wrote I can potentially save alot of time.

4. A tablet weighs less then a 200 page notebook.

5. I type faster then I write, so if I can type text while writing down equations (which I obviously cant type) then thats just an extra bonus.

6. If a teacher draws a graph on the board I can just take a picture of the graph instead of copying it and insert it into my notes.

7. I usually buy the college recommended textbook as well as getting some supplementary material, if I get a tablet it can also double as some of my supplementary material, whether its an E-Book, or internet material. It saves me from carrying an extra 5 to 7 lbs of supplementary text or laptop when going back and forth between work, school and home.


Please bare in mind that I travel ALOT, when there are no classes I'm still on a train for 2.5 hours, and with classes thats jumps up to 3 to 3.5 hours, That is alot of time I try to do my best to capitalize on. So the convenience and weight off my shoulder (literally) is worth its weight in gold for me.

The tablet Idea is something I thought could be a useful and convenient experiment/investment. I have been a long time android phone user, and sure android acts buggy from time to time, but honestly from my experiences atleast that's only 2% of the time and turning it off and on usually fixes those issues.

I feel like alot of these comments are more biased based opinions then fact based. I'm on the look out for things more along the lines of "From my experiences most tablets dont really have a battery life of 4 hours even if they say 9 hours...", "It is really easy to confuse the tablets surface when trying to write notes with your palm...", "I tried using it for notes but found it really inconvenient myself and quickly resorted back to paper...". I really do appreciate the comments and suggestions though as I have been made aware of more things, but would appreciate and objective point of view.
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It seems the x86 version of [url="http://www.microsoft.com/global/surface/en/us/renderingassets/surfacespecsheet.pdf"]Microsoft Surface[/url] comes with a pen, so that could be worth checking out once it's out.

If you want to do handwriting or drawing, I think doing it with a finger on a capacitive touchscreen is an exercise in futility.

I agree that managing sheets of paper and pen is a little annoying, but so far there's no affordable consumer replacement in electronic form that comes even close to the precision you can get with a 0.5 mm pencil and paper.
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[quote name='Bregma' timestamp='1345481066' post='4971534']
Google has their factory image they send to their factory for their device, yes. It won't work on any other device. You can't build it from source, either. Android is not Android. The world of Android and mobile hardware is radically different from Windows and bog-standard PC hardware. Do not think the OEMs and carriers are happy with the current situation (and don't think the OEMs and channel resellers were happy with the PC/Windows situation, either). The only people who have been at all happy lately are the veritically-integrated concerns like Apple and maybe the console manufacturers. Why do you think Microsoft now has a tablet and an app store? Why do they have a games console and a walled-garden network experience?[/quote]

He was referring to standard Android, as is run on the Google branded devices, as opposed to the phones that run different versions.

Not that I'd say one should restrict yourself with the Google branded devices - all Android phones these days seem fine. Basically, Daaark's comment just seemed rather ridiculous, and not what most of us experience. Either it was problems with old versions of Android (which is about as relevant as criticising Apple for not being able to do copy/paste or run apps), or is was some terrible make of phone that they'd messed around with the OS badly.

Yes, the downside of open source is that someone can modify it in a bad way. But there are advantages to it too.

For the rest of what you say, indeed of course companies are happier when they get more control. MS has been doing this kind of thing for years; it's why Facebook loves its walled garden, and so on. For the OEMs, this is why Samsung continue to keep their options open with Bada, WP, and Tizen, despite their massive success with Android. But writing, maintaining and supporting an operating system, and getting people to use it, requires a lot of money and marketing, so there are good reasons why companies are better using other companies' products. (It's good for consumers too, avoids too much fragmentation in choice of platforms.) Also there's nothing special about Apple - despite using their own platforms, they are still dependent on other companies for hardware. Their products use the produce of companies such as Intel and major competitor Samsung. Samsung have expertise at making CPUs and screens, but defer to other companies for operating systems. Apple can build end hardware and develop their own OS, but defer to other companies for the CPUs and screens. I don't know if any of this is related to the original point about how good Android is, though...
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