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New Thinkpad To Combine Pen/Paper 97

Fervent writes: "You want handwriting recognition, but you want to have a real machine, not a PDA? You want as compact a machine as possible, maybe as small as a screen and some notebook paper? Check out the article on IBM's new Thinkpad which will be debuting Friday at the CES. The article is at ZDNet -- keyboard and mouse are optional."
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New Thinkpad To Combine Pen/Paper

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  • Lets just hope we dont have to learn another whole new letter and charictor layout like the palm has. That is the most annoying part of pen computing in my opinion.

    Really? The Newton 130 and 2x00 are pen computing devices. And they don't require a whole new character/letter layout. (the pre 2.x versions of Newton Intelligence, well, sucked.)

    Perhaps with newer and faster palms, these faster palms will be able to have useable handwriting interface without having to re-train the user.

    The pocket PC line has the processor cycles, but many do not find the software compelling.
  • I always struggled with the real differences between a notebook and a laptop. Other than size and weight I've never really found any difference. It's nice to see that someone is going to make a diffinitive stand and make a true notebook computer.

    I just can't figure why anyone would need to write something on paper?...I bet the government/insurance/healthcare people who need everything in double triplicate are driving the market for this contraption.
  • I'm LEFT HANDED! My elbow will be all over the keyboard!
  • Ok, people want something that is big like a piece of paper, but portable like a PDA. Freestyle to doodle on, but with a keyboard for typing. Color, but with high contrast for reading. Networked, all the time, wireless.

    Did I get it all? Ok, I'll just be getting to work, now...:) Seriously, is there anything in there that seems to be mutually exclusive? The keyboard is often a big one, because it's so hard to make a good portable one that doesn't take up much space and is yet still useful for people that type quickly. Other than that, I'd think that something like foldable smart paper would do it. Combined with some sort of docking station that had the keyboard? That was flexible enough to fold and put into a pocket, but when extended was stiff enough (like a clipboard) that you could hold it and write on it? Would the wireless connection need to be in the device itself, or could it be in the docking station, ala a Palm sync?

  • I have awfull handwriting and was having
    problems with it since school. I was so
    happy that currently you type almost
    everything. Now these guys trying
    to resurrect handwrting again! Somebody
    please stop them!
  • I can't use the machine .. because I'm left handed.
  • Anyone who READ THE ARTICLE would have noticed the last line, which reads:

    IBM will also offer TransNote models for both right-handed and left-handed writers.


  • This is really the best for someone who needs a laptop's functionality and power but also needs to be able to take notes without the limitations of a cropped-down QWERTY keyboard (ie. college students, especially in math and comsci classes) I'd like to see good flowchart and composite software. What would be really sweet would be a program that tried to translate into ASCII as you went along, but kept undecipherable letters in their original bitmapped form along with apparent mispellings or misstrokes (kind of how Adobe Acrobat does OCR - it translates what it can, and simply includes what it can't.) and also allow for drawings, diagrams, etc.

    This would be perfect for me (PDAs, particularly palmtops, have size and flexibility limitations for doing serious work) to use, if only it were cheaper. I'd buy it for $2000, but as always, laptops must be overpriced. I'd also like a (much) bigger screen, but that's asking for a little much.
  • This sounds awfully similar to what Apple already did really well (then killed) with the Newton 2x00 series. I have a Newton 2000, which can recognize even my horrible writing... and while it doesn't have actual paper, why would I need that? It also has about a two week in-use battery life (gotta love that 162 MHz StrongARM!), actually fits on a palm top and does cursive as well as printed recognition. You can find out more from all sorts of places, including Planet Newton [planetnewton.com] or This Old Newt [aol.com]. There's an entire community out there who hopes daily that someone - anyone - will build something as good again. I hope IBM has done so... that is, if the screen part works separately from anything else, and has similar PDA-like characteristics.
  • Rather than having the pad of paper to the side, couldn't the (presumably) touch-sensitive bit have been put on the underside of the laptop? You could then make notes on it like it was a clipboard... And it could fold out to the side for use when the laptop was open in the usual way.
  • by SEWilco ( 27983 ) on Friday January 12, 2001 @08:58AM (#511717) Journal
    A recent Ask Slashdot about Electronic Class Notebook [slashdot.org] discussed a paperless pen computer [slashdot.org]. The Crosspad [slashdot.org] was also mentioned there several times.
  • One possible technique would use the hall effect to detect the change in a magnetic field from the pen material. That would require a specific type of pen. I'm not sure from the article if this is the case or not.
  • The idea looks promising, but at 5.5lbs its too heavy to lug around. I have 4 Thinkpad, all are much lighter than this thing and they have bigger screens, bigger hard drives, keyboards etc.

    What makes this thing so heavy?

  • IBM did do the software for Crosspad - they even released an SDK at IBM Handwriting [ibm.com] with version for Java and C++. This is an adaption of that work. The problem with the Crosspad was, among other things, the time it took to resync work to the PC. This skips that step allowing for a much more fluid handwriting/typing interaction.
  • Heh, you should see the Thinkpad 240, it would really drive you nuts. It has a 'Function' key where the Ctrl-key normally is, and the Ctrl-key is packed between 'Function' and the space bar.

    Oh, btw, it rocks my world for editting text, and I've never had any problems with CTRL on this or any other keyboard. You're just karma whoring.

  • I think this is very usefull. Especially when I'm in a meeting, and I bring a laptop to quickly type up notes. Although I would not use this for the text recognition, but for the drawing diagrams. We usually have a white board to write on and show diagrams of the design, and I don't have time to enter it in some graphics utility. So being able to just draw it with a pen would be a great help.

    Same thing goes for business trips. I write ideas for software products into a laptop, but there are times when I want to draw pictures to help explain the idea. Again, I don't want a graphics tool, but to just draw something would be of great help.

    Steven Rostedt
  • i can understand the level of dispute on this thread - i have a Jornada myself and won't get a Palm because i dislike the input method. however, i can say that people who have 'car offices' (like real estate agents, sales reps, and lobbyists - not techies) will have a much better time using this kind of laptop/PDA combination. the pad of paper makes sure that they don't have to take their eyes off the road while they're driving, and since it folds and doesn't weigh much it'll be appealing for long travel.

    i used to do tech support for lobbyists who drove many places, had phone meetings in transit, etc - they will LOVE this item.

    and don't forget, the thinkpad 701 was not very well designed either! for example, the keyboard made it difficult for you to attach peripherals in the side ports after you opened it. they grew from that little model to the brilliance of their 300 and 600 series. therefore, i think this type of item will be improved in the same manner - over time.
  • Yeah, I have nightmares like that all the time. Then I have dreams of having it calculated by Maple.
  • The very end of the article (right above the comment from "Kay" stating the same problem) says there will be a left handled model availiabel as well as right handed.

  • What no one has pointed out yet is that using diagrams is crucial for note taking or just writing down ideas of any kind. This product is the best I've seen so far for doing this. You can enter text by keyboard and then directly draw-in whatever pictures you need with the touch-screen. For note taking, this sceen is more useful than the palm just by the scheer size of the screen. However, without good software, either product is useless for recording notes or ideas.
  • What I want is a small Laptop, not a big PDA. See, I love wide screens, but only because you could make them the same demensions as the keyboard and have one small, full-featured laptop.

    Of course this is not what the rest of the consuming world wants. IBM, back in the 80's did a poll and found that people said they wanted less, so they released the PC Jr. Which, of course, nobody wanted.

  • I was interested in the machine, though not the article. Besides, what better a way to get a response than to post a smart assed comment?

  • eh. i still use my Newton MP2100 (final model, baby) every day. The handwriting on the later units (2100, 2000, even the 130) is really good. And, it uses normal English characters instead of that Grafiti crap.

    Being able to scribble on paper, and then have it translated to text? That is even kewler. It'll leave you with a permanent deadtree record along with the data, ready for processing and distribution.
  • It's not a laptop computer, it's a portable, folding desk for the Internet age. I want one.
  • Now I can save all the doodles of naked women that I draw during a boring meeting.

    "I can only show you Linux... you're the one who has to read the man pages."

  • This is dumb. I am left handed, and the rest of my family is right handed. How are we supposed to get along with this?
    I already sacrifice enough with the mouse, the keyboard, the stick shift, the remote control, the roads, eating at restaraunts, doors, pr0n sites. This is right handed person's world, and I am sick of it.

    Buy from the Left-torium!
  • "I like the fact that IBM push the ideas envelope"

    Absolutely... IBM Research [ibm.com] is one of the most fascinating sites out there, IMHO. They've really come a long way from the old calculator makers.

  • IBM had a rebranded version of the Crosspad as its own already. Maybe they could remarket it if this takes off.

    //picks crosspad off the shelf, blows dust off//
    "Hey brand new thousand bucks"

  • Great, going to have great fun with this as a left handed person :-)

  • I have a 380ED, and when I got it when it was 3 years old and most of the hell had *already* been banged out of it. A very durable little box, though at 7lb, it is a bit rough to use on the go, so I prefer to think of it as a "portable". And as a bonus, all of the h/w is fully supported by Linux, so it runs Slackware wonderfully.

    I keep hearing that the new Thinkpads aren't as tough ad the old ones. Guess I'll keep mine. :)
  • There's nothing fundamental about the landscape orientation of a screen. With the proper drivers, the screen could be used either in portrait or in landscape mode. In any event, writing on the pad would just put the input into a document. If the document didn't fit ont he screen, it would be scrollable.

    wouldn't writing on the pad mash the keys against the table?

    My impression is that there is no keyboard on the unit, just a place to plug in an external keyboard.

    I think that there's a real niche market for this kind of thing. I attend meetings and would love to have my huge financial spreadsheets available without printing out 60 pages of output.

    But 5 pounds and 2.5 hours battery life dosn't seem all that useful. I have some meetings that go on longer than that.
  • Or at least the dreaded Post-Before-Reading Syndrome. Quoting the very last line of the article:

    IBM will also offer TransNote models for both right-handed and left-handed writers.
  • I'm a lefty too and I don't understand what you're complaining about on most of these things. Frankly when you listed these things I found most of them to be a lefty advantage. Let's have a look:

    Mouse, generally use with right hand leaves left hand free for more important things.

    Keyboard, all the good letters (well, A and E are the 2 most common letters and they're on the left) are on the left side seems a lefty advantage to me.

    Stick shift, I can't really call this one. Depends on where you live. I find that the US style where the shifter is operated with the right hand is good for the lefty. It leaves the left hand free for steering, smoking, eating, phone talking and other tasks that require more finger dexterity than pushing a lever with a shoulder motion.

    The roads, I'm not sure how this is a particular advantage one way or another except as to how it relates to the placement of the shifter.

    Eating, advantage lefty here!! You get to start with the fork right under the hand you're going to use it with.

    Doors, can be a little akward for leftys sometimes.

    pr0n sites, advantage lefty! You're using the mouse with your right hand and your left hand is free for more important things ;)

    The only time when I have a real problem with being a lefty is when I'm using power tools. Most power tools are setup so that the dangerous part is away from your body when the tool is held in the right hand. This of course places the dangerous part right next to your body when operated lefty style. Not good!!

  • Obviously you've never seen my handwriting; decoding my penmanship is not for the weak of heart. However, I have pretty decent speed with graffiti, so if that's the consolation I have to make in order to keep from having to retype, I'm willing to make it.

    And I'm agreeing with you on getting laptops more acceptable. We're getting to the point of disposable desktops, but a low-end laptop is still usually at least $1000. We get laptops down to ~$500, and they'll finally be for The Rest of Us.

  • you mean like the Newton? oh wait, that was a few years ago wasn't it?
  • I stand corrected. I trailed off 2/3rds of the way through since it wasn't a very interesting article. :)
  • ah, but the circular saw was designed by a lefty, you can actuall see where the blade is cutting if you were using it with your left hand then again they are now coming out with the reversed circular saws(for us rightys).
  • to give a company a clue about product design? Why don't they listen to people? They might even sell a prodcut or two. Okay, for the record:

    1. All people really want is a slim tablet-shaped box with rounded corners, that has a touch sensitive TFT-style LCD screen on top, and a stylus that doesn't have a wire attached to it.
    2. The screen needs to be about twelve inches diagonal or better, and the box needs to be as slim as possible.
    3. Software just has to be capable of collecting written and drawn pages, and storing and retriving lots of them.
    4. Operation in note-taking mode must be silent.
    5. The box should have a keyboard, ethernet, and video output port.
    6. When attached to a keyboard, the critter should act like a full-blown pentium-class pc.

    Everything else is optional. This gets you the ability to take notes without paper, and without scaring the rest of the people in the meeting. It gets you the ability to read and use the computer while curled up on the couch, or sitting in the airport waiting for the flight. When you need a keyboard, you can either get a fold-up one or simply borrow one, and prop up the screen so it looks like a workstation. At home or office you simply have stock keyboard and bigger monitor.

  • IBM had a laptop with a touchscreen and handwriting recognition (along with some gesture commands) a while back. I remember hacking one at EPCOT Center once about maybe six years ago. It was a very cool machine and, of course, I want(ed) one. The screen folded over the keyboard so you could use it like a big tablet. It was like a full-computer version of Vadem's Clio [clio.com]. I think that it ran on a 386, or a slow 486. I don't remember the specs, but I do remember being disappointed by them.

  • Yeah that's right. I remember COMDEX Atlanta around 1989 or 90. OS/2 had just made a big splash and they featured laptops and desktops with handwrighting and voice recognition. the laptop had a touch screen the desktop was one of the first non-plasma, non-system390, flat-panel screens I ever saw. I was drueling all over myself. Now it's just passe. Where's my Linux powered Clio? Now a fully powered Clio... that would be cool.
  • I'm very curious to see if this catches on, but here's why I'm pessimistic. I have a Palm Professional and I got it for the same reason that most people got it... It does everything I need it to, it's small, and boot time is non-existent. The other handhelds (predominantly ones with WinCE) don't nearly compete because you can't whip it out, jot down a phone number, and drop it back in your pocket like a piece of paper and pen.

    While I'm very interested in getting rid of the keyboard/mouse combo and I'm curious to see new handwriting recognition software, I find it hard to believe that laptop users will move down to this device or that handheld users will sacrifice their small size and speed for the extra computing power. I see this selling to a small population purely on geek factor. There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't see a revolutionary idea here.
  • Lets just hope we dont have to learn another whole new letter and charictor layout like the palm has. That is the most annoying part of pen computing in my opinion. IBM makes really nice laptops now. I think the thinkpad series is one of the best laptop brands on the market. Lets just hope that IBM continues this with there new model.
  • and my typing is much more legible than my handwriting.

    Doesn't this remind you of the pen based 486's that were being sold at a big discount in 1994, maybe $300 for a 486/25 with 4/80?
  • They are going to have separate left handed and right handed models. So if I buy a lefty one for myself, my wife won't be able to borrow it. That's really freaking handy.

    Not that I care - I learned how to type when I was fairly young (even though boys didn't normally take typing in my school) because my handwriting is atrocious. The last thing I need is for a computer to start nagging me about that.
  • Man and I just bought a Jornada. This is imo the most useful type of PDA machine. Notetaking is something for which I am sick of using yellow legal pads -- I need something that combines portability and a legal pad. Rejoice for me!

  • However, I wouldn't want to sit next to someone on a plane with one of these things. It seems as if it takes up a lot of space. It looks *fragile*. I had an IBM 380XD, and you could bang the hell out of those - I don't know about this one.

  • I have been using my Cross IPEN [cross.com] with my laptop for a couple of years now and have achieved the same functionality that this new product will provide (sans actual paper).

    It is much more convenient to work with a pen like device when only one hand is available I have found (no, the other hand isn't anywhere near my pants).

  • A stupid part of this is how much paper would be wasted for the consumer who would ONLY write using the paper/pen part. As if we don't waste enough!
  • I mean that this new Thinkpad will be much more useful than my Jornada. Although, I'm stuck with the Jornada for a few years.

  • Looks to me like IBM wants to try to cater towards the PDA group. For me, I don't need something THAT powerful for taking notes. I have my Visor. And, if I have to hotsync out on the road I can either dial in or take my laptop with me. It's an interesting idea, though.

    The COBOL Warrior
  • No kidding. It looks like this is just another waste of time along to trail to laptop sized uber-PDAs with touch sensitive screens and robust OSs. If we're going to be pointer happy, let's just point at the screen. It is not intuitive to roll a mouse around on the table or to draw on a separate pad of paper.
  • On the face of it, you've got to hand it to them. When they designed that butterfly keyboard that unfolded, I wanted one - just so I could open and close the computer again and again.

    This is probably appropriate for a very large market - for example I often take notes whilst interviewing people - it's rude to type during a meeting (perhaps that's a culture thing, but then you should be sensitive to it), so I write quick notes and type up minutes afterwards. This would be very very useful in my case, and many others I can think of.

    On the other hand, it's not necessary, just useful - the current way works too. And if this thing gets overtaken by something else within 9 months, it's going to miss my company's refresh cycle on PCs, and it will pass us by. Also, it suffers from the fact that it's newness classifies it as a gadget in the minds of those who have budgets, and so maybe it won't sell quite so well as a consequence.

    I don't think I'll get one, either personally or through my work, but I like the fact that IBM push the ideas envelope and make things like this - not bad for a monolithic blue-chip.

  • by ocelotbob ( 173602 ) <ocelotNO@SPAMocelotbob.org> on Friday January 12, 2001 @06:50AM (#511759) Homepage
    This seems like a great idea, usable as a computer in those situations where a full computer just doesn't "feel" right. When I'm taking notes, jotting down a poem, etc, I usually hate to type, rather, I like to scrawl my scribblings on a pad of paper. Don't ask me why, it just feels better to get those emotions down on ground up trees. However, since one can't send a sheet of paper to someone across the country nearly as fast as you can send an email, so I end up having to type it out anyways. This seems like it'll get rid of most of the redundancy of having to put down an idea twice just to get people to be able to read it.
  • I have owned 3 pda's over the years (newton, ce, * handspring) and 1 laptop. Personally the only one that I have ever found useful was the newton. Other it had some problems it allowed me to effectively take notes, actual do some computing, and was nice and portable. I like my handspring but I fnd it only useful as an organizer. CE is powerful enough but clunky and crash prone. My laptop only makes we wish i was using my desktop system. However this, a system with power, note taking capability, portability ...

    Only real question to me is how portable is it really. Ideally I would probably design this to be more like a pda but I would be willing to pay a lot more for it than I do a pda.

    So where are those webpads we keep hearing about as internet connectivity is also something I want in this (I'm sure you can attach a wireless modem to the thinkpad).
  • CES ended last tuesday, so wherever this is going to be introduced, it's not going to be at CES.
  • I have so many stacks of napkins and scratch paper from meetings and planning lunches/dinners, I love the idea of this thing. Although I am still waiting for a good tablet system, this will be a really nice option.

    Chaswell Freewill
  • This brings a whole new maining to the term "notebook computer" *snicker*
  • Thank you for reminding me. I just started to wonder about getting a notebook.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.

  • I am left handed. I see no indication from the article that I will be able get a model suitable to one who uses a pen with his/her sinister manus.

    Am I wrong here? Anyone from IBM care to comment?

  • Not to long ago I suggested that someone come up with something NEW in the way of an OS. It was a MAC OS X article here on /. . Everyone hung on my suggestion of vioce recognition and said how BAD an idea that is and blah blah. My point, that everyone missed was that not since Mac introduced the Mouse and GUI to the world (sold to public) the PC / Mac have not really changed. Inputs are still the same. We still use the 20 year old mouse and how old is that keyboard?

    Well although this may not be the end all of ideas, it is good to see that someone is thinking about new means of inputs.

    Personally I'd like a handwriting recognition pad for my computer at home and at work. So that I could use the stylis(sp) as a pointer as well as a partial replacement for the keyboard.

    You know I am not talking about replacing the keyboard and mouse, but I am talking about making more available and less expensive alternate means of computer input.

    It will be funny if in 10 years we have a full generation of repetitive stress syndrome people cause they are all forced to use computers with primitive keyboards & mouse from first grade through college. Then we will be forced to come up with new ideas.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • I would hope by know that IBM would understand such selling concerms. Yes it will be considered a gadget, but I remember a time when PCs were just gadgets (I was young though). OK bad example IBM screwed up on that one but they should have learned their lesson. So they will keep it out on the market longer even through bad sells, that is if they believe in this product which they may not.

    Hmm, I wonder if I had a point in mind when I hit reply, because I don't know.

    Devil Ducky
  • by FallLine ( 12211 ) on Friday January 12, 2001 @08:40AM (#511768)
    heh, i'm the other way around. I simply hate handwriting. Whenever I do it I spend far more time trying to write somewhat legibly then I do producing quality work. Of course, I started doing most of papers on computer in 4th grade. The problem is that I can't generally afford to lug a computer (just for notes) into class and meetings. Although I doubt this thing in the solution for me, it'll be nice when the form factor and price of these laptops improves, not to mention their acceptance.
  • The underside? Then you'd have to right without seeing what you've written. seems like a terrible idea....
  • This is an interesting, but hardly revolutionary combination of a notebook and existing devices like Crosspad [keyalt.com]

    If I had to choose whether to take my laptop, Crosspad, PDA, or Transnote, I would not choose Transnote It seems the bulkiest possible combination of the Crosspad + notebook.

  • Any one that read the original post woul notice that the poster said that he was left handed BUT the rest of his family wasn't. So a left hand only computer wouldn't work for him.

    But in my opinion laptops are kind of personal computers and in this point of view having two models are enougth.
    "take the red pill and you stay in wonderland and I'll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes"
  • Owch. I'm too tired. Then you'd have to write without seeing... Argh.
  • The roads, I'm not sure how this is a particular advantage one way or another except as to how it relates to the placement of the shifter.

    I read somewhere that we southpaws have a propensity to veer into oncoming traffic (US roads) in emergency situations.

    pr0n sites, advantage lefty! You're using the mouse with your right hand and your left hand is free for more important things ;)

    In a related note, I HOPE that lefties wipe with their right hand...
  • It sounds like you want something like a touchscreen Clio [clio.com], where the screen can flip around to hide the keyboard.
  • totally. I could never see buying this bulky, awkward thing for 3k, when i could get a rocking new Titanium g4 powerbook for $2600.00 plus i think i've seen something like this already as a legal pad that hooks up to your computer, that's been out for at least a year. Comparing this product debut to the recent macworld keynote really shows the difference between the PC and Mac markets.
  • Seiko has a device [seikosmart.com] out that sounds pretty neat. It's a binder with a digitizer pad built into it so when you write on the paper notepad it sends the text to your Palm via infrared while you write it. I didn't look into it enough to see if it actually did anything like OCR. I think it just keeps a bitmap image of your notes but still... beats writing in the chicken-scratch Graffiti when all you want to do is draw out a map or diagram and take notes in a meeting.
  • ok, so this [apple.com] is a little wider than you are thinking, but with handwriting recognition [zdnet.com] supposedly being readied for mac os x, the rumour is that the powerbook will get a touch sensitive screen and the ability to unhinge its keyboard (have to move the proc up though)

  • which was to've been a pen slate system running Go Corp's PenPoint (eventually released as the 710T)

    Nice to see, but rather a shame there's no sign of the PenPoint OS---did Taiwan's MITI ever do anything with that when they bought it?
    Lettering Art in Modern Use
  • Looks somewhat similar to the Cross Crosspad, with the laptop/pad interface integrated into one unit. As a person who can't have a 30 second conversation without drawing a sketch, I thought the Crosspad was pretty neat, but it died in the market. Wonder if IBM can do better? I believe they did some of the Crosspad's software to begin with.

  • by san ( 6716 ) < > on Friday January 12, 2001 @06:53AM (#511780)
    The only thing i use pen and paper for still is for calculations; having a recognition program for that to mathml/latex/mathematica would be really useful..

    Imagine writing down your integral and have it calculated by mathematica...

    oh well.
  • You got your laptop in my notepad!
    You got your notepad in my laptop!

    Seriously, how useful is this? Pen entry is good on a small device where adding a keyboard would be impossible. But the device is the size of a laptop already (bigger, because they added a notepad). What does the pen entry add, really? It sure ain't speed or accuracy.

    The only possible consumer is people who can't type. And even they can only get data into the device. What am I going to do to perform a search or print a report? Write all the specs with pen on paper to get it into the laptop? Why not just hire an assistant that knows how to work a laptop and write notes to him/her--it's the same effect, plus you can have sex on business trips.
    MailOne [openone.com]
  • The display looks to have some other type of hinge besides the usual clamshell, along the lines of the GRiD Convertible or the Clio -- perhaps it's even removable and useable as a tablet. That would require a digitizer underneath both the display AND the paper, no? I don't know -- this thing looks like a bad compromise to me. At any rate, I'm hopeful that we'll see more modularity in these devices, so that a common processor/storage core could be configured as a PDA, a tablet, or a subnotebook, depending on what you needed, AND what your project's pricepoint dictates. For example, in k-12 education, your pricepoint is way below a full laptop, but a pda for every student is a real possibility.

  • The Trans-note isn't using a Transmeta processor. That would be rather transcendent idea to transfer information via pen.
    If only IBM could transform it into a Linux system.

    Ooh... The Internet is on computers now... Good for it.
    --Homer Simpson
  • by Sebastopol ( 189276 ) on Friday January 12, 2001 @07:41AM (#511784) Homepage
    This really isn't intended for the technophile, it is a transition vehicle that enables three different technologies: keyboard, pad and touchscreen, ultimately weaning luddites from their fear of PCs/PDAs. Perhaps this is the logical transition point between laptop and PDA (subnotebooks are a failure IMHO).

    The pad is the key component because you can always drop back and scribble if your windows crashes, giving a sense of security. Plus, it's in a nifty package, so you don't have to fumble a laptop AND a pad of paper.

    Plust the flexibility of using just the touch screen is what I've been longing for. I used PenWindows and a backlit Wacom pad back in 93 and fell in love with it, then it died a horrible costly death. Hopefully it will be reborn soon by devices like this.

    For me, there isn't a program fast enough yet that I can use to go from mind to screen. Even visio isn't fast enough... Sometimes I even drop into notepad or paint, but they still can't compete with pen/paper for rapid thought.

  • There is a fundamental mismatch between the portrait-orientation of the pad of paper and the landscape-orientation of the screen.

    The article left me with several questions:

    - Do you have to write with special characters, or will it recognize my native printing?
    - Does the pad fold all the way around for when you're not using the computer?
    - If so, wouldn't writing on the pad mash the keys against the table?
  • Well, I suppose I both agree and disagree with you? As I am left handed as well, I agree that it is dumb of IBM to have separate left and right handed models - couldn't their engineers have jiggered with it a bit more and made the pad able to flip to either side? However, there are many things that right handed people have/do that I find kinda funny. Such as using the mouse - I naturally use it with my right hand - that way I can write stuff with my left hand, or hold the phone while doing computer stuff (yes, I'm inept in that I can only use the phone on my left ear, why? I don't know). Also, with the case of music - I find that the "right" handed guitar feels quite natural for me - I want my more dexterous hand on the fretboard, not plucking or stumming strings. Anyway - I'm getting off topic...

    I find it pathetic that the people who design products such as this cannot get past arranging things to be universal when it comes to handedness. Usually, its not that hard - I guess they just don't want to spend the extra few minutes and a few extra bucks to get the design functionality.

    On the other hand (no pun intended) - at least IBM is offering a left handed model. We could be snubbed altogether.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's 5.5 pounds and 2.5 hours of battery life. That answers a lot of questions about product placement, or non-placement, as far as I'm concerned. But a cross-pad for my iPaq would make sense.
  • by NuclearArchaeologist ( 104596 ) on Friday January 12, 2001 @07:48AM (#511788)
    This is great for forms and checklists. A form can be printed that lies over the pad. As it's filled in, the fields are put in the appropriate database. When the task is done, both a traditional paper document and a database exist. The paper can easily be inspected and approved then filed for as long as needed by other inspectors. The electronic copy can be researched easily by those who need to know what happened.

    I've been waiting for something like this. Nice work, IBM!

  • To me, using ANY alphabet to WRITE seems stupid for text input. I can type at more than twice my writing speed, and I enjoy it more. The only things I want paper for are drawing diagrams for something. This is easliy done with a $80 Wacom drawing tablet that attached to the USB port.

    The main advantage of a system like this is because of the stigma people place on keyboard inside meeting, etc. Writing on a pad is not as much of a distraction for those attending. I say screw the distraction and use my Visor with a Stowaway keyboard for syncing when I get back to my Thinkpad.

    I am curious how it will do in the marketplace, it seems slightly better than a toy to me.

  • I knew somebody would figure it out soon....

  • 'New Thinkpad To Combine Pen/Paper' - Combining pen and paper? Revolutionary! Ripped from the pages of Duh! magazine...

    But actually this could spur some interesting hacks... command line scripting with pen and paper? Of course it's hard to clear the screen when you've been badmouthing the boss, if it's right there on paper.

  • When I first read the headline, I thought they had built in this e-Paper stuff, and you could write on that. Now *that* would have been useful (but it's probably years away). But the waste of paper and especially the fact that there doesn't seem to be much added value (can you make use of the space where you crossed something out? does it recognize the layout of your text, or does it stuff all the characters into one paragraph? What about moving things around on the paper?). So it really looks pretty backward to me, at the moment.
  • ...I think the pad of paper is kind of overkill. I don't see much of a difference between writing on a piece of paper and having the computer pick it up and drawing on the screen and printing it out - the latter probably being more accurate - what if the paper moves around, you never run out of paper... oh yeah, and erasing is quite a bit easier and cleaner, too...

    A notebook with a touchscreen is enough, I'd say (and you could sill leave off the keyboard and mouse... damn, that would be a pretty cool! Star Trek Padds, anyone?).

    Handwriting recognition is neat though. The Newton MessagePad, when correctly set up, will pick up around 95% of what I write (provided I'm not messy :) ), or I can just set it to "script" mode, which just takes what I write as a bitmap and sizes it down... If they had something like that as a notebook I'd be taking that baby to classes :-)

  • I have the same problem, but I like to do many of my calculation against a blackboard as well. Though that should be solvable, say using chalk with a uranium powder that can be picked up by a censor in the room (right though your body!)

    I can say no more - must call up USPO right away!
  • I've had this idea for a while, and I still wonder if anyone else has been thinking about it. It's nothing new, but this Thinkpad brings up the idea again.

    A while ago they started a project at MIT for . They store a whole bunch of little balls in the paper that are half white and half black, and rotated to display the correct color. The electronics to control the balls were printed on the paper itself, and the resolution was pretty high (I think they were shooting for laser quality, and it wasn't too far off). It was static, so required no power once set. They wanted to use it to have books that could function (and in fact be) normal books that you could read, but the pages themselves could be rewritten at the push of a button. [mit.edu]

    I've always wanted someone to make this idea into a PDA. Imagine a single clipboard with a paper-like front that sits there with a page of text on it. Then you could push a button and a new page of text appears, indistinguishable from a laser printed (or typeset) page. Then you use the stylus to make notes in the corner, where the small PDA chips embedded in the clip part track your movements and create the lines under your pen simulating writing and drawing. Then you push another button and you can write a quick email and send it off.

    If you could actually make this sort of appliance, (which shouldn't be hard with MIT's e-paper and a small embeded chip that only consumes power when you're actively doing something) you could have an essentially always on electronic writting / display tablet. With the ability to read and write like a normal piece of paper, but the power of a computer's ability to store and display hundreds of pages of text, you could replace school textbooks, novels, hostpital charts, almost anything you can think of. And with a display and chip that only use power when active (ie. refreshing with a new page or drawing with the stylus), you should be able to go days / weeks on a single battery. It could become the single most useful PDA-like device.

    The possibilities are just too much. But I've never heard of anything like it, and I'm curious if anyone's ever had this occur to them too. With news of the new light-interference static display technology, you could have a full color pad too. Think about it a bit, and about how many normal uses it could serve, and it gets more exciting. Anyone else see this?

    Just curious, as always. Feedback, please!


  • Didn't see that in preview.

    Damn Preview Button. [slashdot.org]

  • so much for innovation and examining real-world usage of paper pads. a wireless peripheral paper pad would not sell as many laptops i suppose.
  • Yeah, that's it. Sorry, and thank you.

    I blame the 14-inch black-and-white Magnetbox with the incessant ghosting for that error.

  • is this product supposed to replace handhelds?

    i have a palmV.. and i dont know what i would do without it.. well at least until i scrape up some money for an ipaq. these notepads look 31337 enought.. but still fairly large. if i was going to get something with a keyboard, and was willing to spend money, i would just get a sony vaio. theyre prettier and more useful.

    the perfect world is a world without lag. a world without lag is a world without people
  • Remember that? The first-gen PDA from Apple, so ridiculed for its inaccuracy in handwriting recognition that there was even a Newton spoof on "The Simpsons" (Nelson takes out his Newton and writes down, "Beat up Martin", and the Newton translates it into, "Bring up Martha").
  • When writing notes in math/physics classes at the University, writing by hand is _much_ faster than using a keyboard, because writing formulas is next to impossible to do quickly on a laptop.

    I would welcome this, as it would make it possible to create a more professional report afterwards, without typing things twice.
  • Thats funny. My handwriting is much more legible than my typing.

    Oh wait, that's because when I type I'm writing perl....

  • From the article: "When a person doodles on the paper, transceivers underneath the pad track the movement of the pen"

    I can understand the receive part, but what does it transmit back to the pad? Perhaps an electrical shock if you write a dirty word?

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI