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Digital Pen Or Graphics Tablet


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#1 dominose

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Posted 22 March 2008 - 10:34 AM

What I want to do is to be able to enter handwriting/math symbols into a graphics program like Windows Paint or Windows Journal - for sharing math with people online. I've been looking at digital pens, graphics tablets, digital notebooks. (A scanner could be used for this too but I kind of know how they work so I'm not really asking about that.)
I have a laptop running Windows Vista.
Maybe the Iogear Digital Scribe, or some kind of digital pen, is what I need. From the description on http://www.iogear.com/product/GPEN100C, it works with the laptop in streaming mode, it doesn't automatically try to convert handwriting to text, because it doesn't come with such software - probably could be used in Windows Journal, though they mention the OneNote application to use with it, which I don't have. (Windows Journal supports tablet input so probably it's ok with this). You can see what you're writing because it also writes with ink on paper - apparently you get a streaming digital copy on the terminal. It also works with Microsoft Vista.
Other kinds of digital pens might really do the same thing, although a lot of them don't work with Vista.
A graphics tablet would probably work - but the inexpensive ones like Bamboo have a small work area, like only about 4x5". I wasn't sure if that would work for me. The work area is apparently mapped to the whole laptop screen - so that you'd have to write really tiny if you're writing small math symbols, like subscripts and subscripts of subscripts ... Maybe you can change the mapping so you don't have to scale down your handwriting, and that might work, if it's easy to move the area on the screen that the tablet is mapped to ...
With a small work area it seems like it's more useful as a pointing device, and I don't need or want anything replacing the drag area on my laptop. Graphics tablets have a lot of subtleties like pressure sensitivity which I don't need, and it seems like the tradeoff for that is a small work area.
Best Buy, which is the only store around here that has a graphics tablet, the Bamboo, doesn't let you try it! All they said was, we have a 30-day return policy. If all you can do when you go to the store is stare at the box while getting uninformed advice from a salesperson, why not buy it from Amazon ...
Anyway I'd appreciate comments - all this is very new to me and there are a lot of details involved in whether it'll work well, it's hard when I can't try one in a store and have to try to figure it out by surfing.
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#2 donuteh

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 04:48 PM

I'm not really sure about the digital pens as I've never used one, I have seen them thought and every one I've seen has been quite large and bulky. I don't know about all of them but the ones I looked at required special paper. that makes them a little more costly to use then the tablets. you might want to look into this and find out how hard it is to find the paper or how much longer it'll be available for.

The tablets take some getting used to, the work area is small on the bamboos, but you can dedicate the tablet to a portion of the screen and I think there are profiles that you can set up to make changing this easy. Windows Vista has a lot of different uses for tablets and the bamboos were pretty much geared towards making it easy and fun to use. I originally bought the predecessor to the Bamboo (Graphire 4) I liked it but wanted more so I upgraded to the Cintiq.

I use mine for drawing and the tablet works best for that. the digital pen is mostly for note taking and the odd diagram but nothing really artistic. they both have their pros and cons, but it all depends on what you want to do with it. The Digital pen is definitely more portable but I think it's a litte more limited. the bamboo comes with a lite version of adobe photoshop and Corel painter essentials. I'm not sure what programs are available for the digital pen but I imagine your stuck with whatever they give you, with the possible exception of a few others. the tablet will work anywhere a mouse will, including windows paint. These are a few points to think about before making your decision. You might want to seek out someone who's used a digital pen for advise. or look up a review on a specific model your are looking at for more details on those.

I hope this helps.
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