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Ask Slashdot: What's a Good Tablet/App Combination For Note-Taking?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the what's-wrong-with-yellow-legal-pads? dept.


EmagGeek writes "My wife recently started back to school to finish her 4-year degree, and one of the things that we've been considering is procuring for her some kind of tablet that would enable her to take notes in class and save them electronically. This would obviate the need to carry around a bunch of paper, and could even be used to store e-textbooks so she doesn't have to lug 30lbs of books around campus. At minimum, she would have to be able to write freehand on the tablet with a fine-point stylus, just like she would write on paper with a pen. We've seen what we call those 'fat finger' styli and found that they are not good for fine writing. Having become frustrated with the offerings we've tried so far, I thought I would ping the Slashdot Community. Any suggestions?"

cancel ×


NoteOne (-1, Troll)

dev455 (2508456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38060996)

I use NoteOne [] and its awesome.

Re:NoteOne (4, Informative)

Mr. Pibb (26775) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061020)

Don't even think of clicking.. goatse alert. Way to get me fired, bro

Re:NoteOne (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061204)

Don't even think of clicking.. goatse alert. Way to get me fired, bro

It's like workplace Darwinism. Clicking a link without knowing anything about it because some random asshat tells you it's a good idea. Oh while browsing Slashdot on the clock. Nah, they don't need you.

People like you are the reason why trojans are so effective. Naive and trusting morons.

Parent is troll--Don't Click! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061034)


Re:NoteOne (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061036)

Almost certainly an NSFW link since dev455 is currently submitting crap on the Firehose...


Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061040)


Re:NoteOne (1)

Tragek (772040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061056)

Honestly that's the first time I've been Goatse'd in a long time. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

Re:NoteOne (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061064)

I use NoteOne [] and its awesome.

you're sick.

iPad with a keyboard? (3, Interesting)

davecrusoe (861547) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061002)

IPad with a fold-up keyboard? Taking notes with a small stylus (quickly) seems really hard -- end up spending more time to correct the notes taken than keeping pace with the lecture and notes that need to be taken.

Re:iPad with a keyboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061054)

People in classrooms that use a keyboard are annoying dickheads.

Re:iPad with a keyboard? (3, Funny)

Cyberia (70947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061242)

*Whispers* Ummmm... Can you turn off the click sound on your keyboard please? I'm trying to listen to the lecture...

Not all text (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061302)

Unless she is getting her degree in the humanities, there will be parts of the lecture that include equations, graphs, and diagrams that are hard to input with a keyboard. Nothing beats handwriting for that sort of content.

Re:iPad with a keyboard? (3, Informative)

johnkoer (163434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061498)

I like the Zagg [] case that has a keyboard in it.

For taking notes, I like notability, because you can type and draw with a stylus. Also, if you record audio, it can sync up with the drawing/notes you took. This feature is great if you want to listen to the context of the lecture based on your notes.

Recording (2, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061010)

Why not record the lecture? A stylus doesn't provide a very good handwriting experience, and not using one would allow her to use an iPad.

Re:Recording (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061124)

Why not record the lecture? A stylus doesn't provide a very good handwriting experience, and not using one would allow her to use an iPad.

My thoughts perzactly.

Until someone develops sufficient AI to filter what you need to know from what you sit through for 45 minutes, "please, only the bits I need to hear about", it's the best game in town. The next best game, IMHO is still pencil and paper notebook.

Re:Recording (4, Interesting)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061134)

Maybe because faculty do not want to be recorded? When I was in school I did ask to record the classes. Most of the faculty were against it. This was 20 years ago (dam I am old) it might be different today. I would ask before recording class.

Re:Recording (0)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061338)

I am of the mind that if it can be heard by human ear, it can be recorded. You shouldnt have to ask to change recording devices from brain to object. Logically speaking, you shouldnt even be able to take notes if they dont want to be recorded.

Re:Recording (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061166)

> A stylus doesn't provide a very good handwriting experience, and not using one would allow her to use an iPad.

Let's see - the guy asked about Stylus. Obviously, it does not work with your fap-inducing awesome idevice. So let's take out the requirement, then recommend the ishit thingy and declare it's so awesome anybody can use it anyway.

Jobs is dead. Apple will be dead in next 5 years. Android has steamrolled it. Just accept it.

Re:Recording (1)

binford2k (142561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061396)

Why don't you stick one of these [] up your fap-inducing ass? As dickhead as you want to be about it, a stylus works just fine with an iPad or any other touchscreen.

Wanking hateboi.

Film the lecture (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061258)

unless of course the teacher or school claims copyright or such. Can you take photos provided you don't use flash (which the iPad doesn't have - its camera is weak but it can take passable photos of a presentation)

I would recommend something to prop the iPad or similar device up and be sure to that the microphone is unobstructed.

Re:Film the lecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061534)

Privacy laws generally disallow recording of lectures (same applies to pictures). You would need to get an explicit consent of all people in the room, not just the institution and professor. Even if other students may not be visible in the recording, their voice may be recorded when they pose a question etc. They may have an objection to that.

Re:Recording (1)

justin12345 (846440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061482)

There are a number of stylus (stylii?) for the iPad, ones good enough to to draw cartoons, [] let alone write. I'd probably utilize the camera too though. Just don't let the professors know your filming, lest you give them stage fright.

Time consuming to play back (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061510)

Recording is nice because you get all the content, however, it is much slower to retrieve that content than flipping through notes. I've known several people who tried recording lectures, and only one who actually used them after-words. I for one hate it when information online is only provided in video form. Having my notes in that form would drive me crazy. Video is best as a supplement for notes in situations where you have a professor that covers material not in the book, doesn't post good lecture notes, and insists on lecturing faster than you can write. In other situations it is just a hassle.

And like others mentioned, not all schools/professors allow recording of lectures.

and not using one would allow her to use an iPad.

So? Why choose a device that doesn't meet your needs and work around it, when there are devices that do?

Evernote, blue tooth keyboard/case combo. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061026)

I'm just finishing a graduate program and my iPad and bluetooth keyboard/case combo have definitely made the long treks across campus easier. Evernote is fantastic for note taking and it has a feature that allows you to record audio... great for snagging lectures and random professor rants. Evernote syncs what you write/record to the cloud which has allowed me to have access to my materials anywhere. And I haven't lost a note yet!

Word of warning: If she is going to use a tablet for taking notes, the external keyboard is a must. Before I picked mine up, my wrists were aching after even short typing sessions in class.

Re:Evernote, blue tooth keyboard/case combo. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061446)

I need the same advice, but I want to be able to write formulas. The keyboards are not useful for that.

Old School (5, Insightful)

2names (531755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061032)

A pen and some paper. This method is proven to increase later recall of the subject matter. [too lazy to provide citation]

Re:Old School (4, Insightful)

godrik (1287354) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061184)

and you write and annotate much faster on paper. If you want to keep electronic tracks of what you are doing, you can always take pictures of it. I take pictures of my white board all the time, and that works well for me.

Computer note taking is painful in my opinion.

Re:Old School (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061200)

A pen and some paper. This method is proven to increase later recall of the subject matter. [too lazy to provide citation]

Too right. I summarise as I'm writing. Often adding my own thoughts in a column, include some small sketches, lines, arrows, etc. Generally I have found, it I take good enough notes, I don't usually have to go back over them, unless I'm a bit uncertain on something - then I use the notes (which may include such marvelous comments as "*research this item*") only as a brief review.

Re:Old School (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061202)

That is probably part of the driver for a tablet and stylus vs. keyboard, though I'd love to see a study between the two. I suspect they might actually not have much difference--at least for people that grew up with a keyboard attached to their fingers. To my understanding it's largely an issue of attaching mnemonics to what is heard and probably doesn't make much of a difference. I forget the particulars but I recall hearing a while back about how an environment smells can affect learning proficiency.

Re:Old School (2)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061208)

A pen and some paper. This method is proven to increase later recall of the subject matter. [too lazy to provide citation]

Anecdotal info, but this method worked so well for me (calligraphic pen and nice unlined paper) that I hardly needed to actually read my notes!

Re:Old School (-1, Flamebait)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061262)

Yeah and I call bullshit on that -- writing stuff down is just manual labour, pure and simple. The key is properly grokking the subject matter - then you remember it.

So, [[Citation Needed]]

Re:Old School (3, Insightful)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061294)

I'll second this. I have always found that the act of writing the notes goes a long way towards remembering what was written. I will rarely need to refer back to the notes. I tried taking a laptop for a while and typing the notes but for me this did not have the same effect, and it would often take me a long time to find what I had typed (somehow it was context free, whereas when I did have to find something in my written notes I would know what part of the page it was on).

Re:Old School (0)

oleop (974651) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061334)

Paper - means trees, or if recycled paper is used, tracks to deliver, and rest that you can imagine. Pens - chemicals. And then to save notes - you'll scan or retype it?

Re:Old School (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061344)

For some people. It never worked for me. I learned much better if I don't take notes and just focus on the lecture.
I tried to take notes and what happens is the info goes to my ears to the paper and I am not thinking about what is being said.

Stylus? (1)

quangdog (1002624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061038)

Why not a laptop? Note taking by hand can be very tedious and much slower than using a keyboard.

Re:Stylus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061198)

Except when you want to capture diagrams, charts, graphs, or anything generally out of the norm for line by line text. This happens all the time for me; granted I'm in a tech field, but I imagine it happens all the time out of the tech field as well.

Re:Stylus? (1)

bigredradio (631970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061282)

If you decided to go the keyboard route instead, I have been using BasKet [] notes. This works really well. Doesn't give you the excuse to buy the shiny new iPad, but for those running Linux on a desktop, it's a good solution.

Whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061042)

Yeah, stop looking for an excuse to buy a tablet and just buy one.

SuperNote - Asus Transforme (1)

Daniel_is_Legnd (1447519) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061050)

I'm a huge fan of Super Note on the Asus transformer. It works great to capture handwriting notes or typed notes if you have the keyboard dock.

Re:SuperNote - Asus Transforme (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061372)

Which Super Note? The one I see on the Android App store says it isn't compatible with the Transformer.

HTC Flyer (1)

SlashdotWanker (1476819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061078)

I own an Evo View 4G (basically a sprint version of the HTC Flyer) and it is amazing for notes and drawing. it feels solid in your hand and has very little creak (if any) it connects to Evernote natively in its note taking app and works well. the 7" tablet is big enough to be useful without being so large as to get in the way on small lecture hall desks and an otterbox defender case is coming out that will allow you to use it as an easel.

Livescribe pen? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061082)

Rather than a tablet have you looked at the livescribe pens - audio + hyperlinked notes.

thinkpad iPad. (4, Informative)

Tragek (772040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061086)

If handwriting is desired, I generally would recommend against an iPad. I've been using one with a stylus, and the non-intelligent screen just doesn't work well enough.

A friend of mine has a convertible X-series thinkpad, and it's great for them, with intelligent built in stylus + OneNote.

Re:thinkpad iPad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061146)

Yah, either one of these or something similar to the transformer. A keyboard is mandatory for note taking, but if she's taking chem or calculus, then it's important to be able to scribble in formulas with a stylus. OneNote is great.

Re:thinkpad iPad. (4, Informative)

TheSeventh (824276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061172)

The Lenovo tablet was designed to enable note taking, with an intelligent stylus that communicates with the tablet, and handwriting recognition software as well. My girlfriend has one and likes it quite a bit: []

Re:thinkpad iPad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061376) []

I used a version of this tablet going through electrical engineering studies and it was great for taking notes. Whatever you do, stay away from resistive touch screens as it makes taking notes much harder as other input (i.e. hand resting on screen) besides the stylus affects your writing. Lenovo thinkpad tablets are very well designed and supported. While mine is over 6 years old, it still looks and runs great.

Re:thinkpad iPad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061450)

I second this. The Thinkpad Tablet is excellent. I use it all the time to write in meetings and for jotting notes throughout the offices. While the included software is great, it cannot completely turn off finger recognition, it only does palm rejection.

A piece of software called "Quill" for Android, built specifically for the Thinkpad Tablet, has an option to disable all touch, and the writing response is extremely fast! It's only $1 too.

Re:thinkpad iPad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061524)

The Lenovo tablet was designed to enable note taking, with an intelligent stylus that communicates with the tablet, and handwriting recognition software as well. My girlfriend has one and likes it quite a bit: []

People swear by this app for handwritten notes with the think

Re:thinkpad iPad. (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061530)

The Lenovo tablet was designed to enable note taking, with an intelligent stylus that communicates with the tablet, and handwriting recognition software as well. My girlfriend has one and likes it quite a bit: []

There were three things that annoyed me when I tried to use tablets to take notes. The first is that I couldn't rest my wrist on the screen. The second is that there was a delay between writing and seeing the results on the screen, and I just couldn't get use to that. Finally, I couldn't get enough written to compare to a paper page of the same size (probably because of the fat-finger styluses mentioned above). How does the Lenovo tablet fare in these situations? I'd love to have a tablet I could really use to write on, and I'd buy one in a second, but I just can't deal with any issues in those areas.

Re:thinkpad iPad. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061516)

I have an x60 tablet and used it for notetaking for a couple years before I stopped taking classes. OneNote is absolutely fabulous; I tend to whine incessantly about almost all of the software that I use, but I was almost always very pleased with OneNote.

In my mind there is a very clear hierarchy of notetaking mechanisms. At the low end is typing. This is obnoxious to classmates unless you have an unusually quiet keyboard, and is awful for anything except straight text, which is easily less than half of my notes. I tried that for a short while and hated it. In the middle is pencil/pen and paper. At the best is software like OneNote. Has almost all the benefits of pencil/pen, but comes with decent text searching, easy backup, easy distribution, and the other benefits of digital. (The handwriting recognition really is pretty good if you leave it in hand-written format. It seems to do sort of a fuzzy search -- a scribble can match more than one word. This means it works even better than the standard Windows input panel (which is already surprisingly decent), which has to commit to one particular recognition because it's actually doing handwriting-to-text conversion. You're lost if you want to search for something that isn't English text -- but that's still a way better situation to be in than pencil/paper.)

I'm not sure what there is in the iPad world, but I'd be surprised if there's anything nearly as well-developed. By its very nature, it would likely only be useful to a very small segment of the iPad population -- those who have and use a stylus. Taking notes with just your fingers doesn't seem fun.

TakeAnote (-1, Troll)

dev456 (2508468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061094)

I use TakeAnote [] Android app and its awesome.

Re:TakeAnote (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061178)

dont click. goatse

Persistent little goatse fan aren't you? (n/t) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061212)


Re:TakeAnote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061256)

You Asshat. You know, some of us read ./ at the office. Please don't post obscene links.

Not for a tablet, but still a good combo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061100)

At my university, my classes are all basically in the same room. (upper level grad classes). I use a combo of:

Ubuntu Live USB
Wacom Bamboo Pen, (usb tablet)

It's far better than writing with pencil/pen. I can edit notes easily, copy and paste, ect...

I realize this has several limitations in comparison to what you are trying to accomplish (different rooms, no computer, compatibility..) But its a good place to start. I don't think there is a "tablet" to date that includes an active digitizer, but if you're willing to shell out, buy a full blown tablet PC and load up the program on that. Write on the screen, save, export to PDF, keep forever.

I also have all of my books as a PDF saved on the same jump drive. If you look hard enough, you can find the PDF of most books online. (I also have a hard copy, but the pdf is nice to have on the spot.)

stylus and papyrus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061114)

I've been a "professional student" for so long it's embarrassing. I've been a technophile just as long. Paper and pen are the best; there's nothing to get in the way of your recording others' thoughts or your own. You can focus on the learning more than on wrangling the technology to make yourself believe that it's seamless.

Give meade a bailout and stick with the paper.

Creative Ziio (2)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061118) []

Resistive Screen, comes with a stylus.
Runs Android but has not access to Android Market - not a problem, you can still download APKs and install it onto the device.
Evernote would be the app you you are looking for for Note-taking, you can download the APK for that no problem - it's freeware.

Need more information (3, Informative)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061130)

Granted, Slashdot will ignore anything you type anyhow. That said, it would be helpful to know the solutions which were insufficient. Otherwise, we'll just all post stuff you've tried (assuming the OP is reading this).

That said, I've found few things work as well at digitizing notes than the various digital paper options out there. I have a therapist client that uses it for her case notes and then an iPad for content she takes with her. I'd probably prefer the 7" form factor but by offloading the more finicky aspect, handwriting, to a dedicated medium you then have many more options for the content portability.

My client uses a DigiMemo product but there are quite a number out there with various options you might look into.

I like Ghostwriter (1)

phoebe719 (2508470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061142)

I'm liking Ghostwriter, which has solved the fat finger problem. It's not perfect, but it does the job, and is getting me through Discrete Math!

Re:I like Ghostwriter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061318)

I thought that said "Discrete Meth" - and started laughing out loud. Someone looked over my shoulder and said "there's nothing funny about math". Now I can't decide if I should keep laughing because someone takes math so seriously - or feel bad because I laughed at math (which is obviously trying to be discrete and doesn't want to be laughed at).

Lenovo X220 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061144)

If she needs an actual laptop as well, I strongly recommend a Lenovo X220 Tablet. I have an older model and love it - it's a tablet you can actually use for work (and has been around for several years).

Re:Lenovo X220 (1)

violajack (749427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061384)

I second that idea. None of the andoriod/ipad tablets with a capacitive screen and stripped down note taking apps can beat a Windows tablet PC with a Wacom pen and digitizer running OneNote. Infinite paper, the option to add space in the middle of stuff you've already written, searchable handrwiting, the ability to sync in audio recordings with what you're writing, and so much more cool stuff.

None (4, Insightful)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061150)

No tablet as exists today are incapable of taking good usable notes, or if they are (Microsoft OneNote running on a Samsung Series 7 with Windows 7) then they certainly won't exceed a regular laptop with a keyboard. People love to claim the technology is up to that stage but as someone who has foolishly wasted more money that I would like to admit on the tablet dream, I can tell you that, no, you're just wasting money.

The "main issue" I've found is two things, first off handwriting recognition is crap. Secondly that even when it works there isn't any real integration with the rest of the system, so the resulting text and diagrams is an uncategorised orphan unusable by anything of use.

Android and iOS are great consumers of content but they're terrible producers. The software is lacking, the interface designs are arse-backwards, and all it ultimately results in is an inefficient irritating system that you might have well not use. Things like the Android Transformer almost prove my point for me by opting for a keyboard and Microsoft Word-clone like software to increase your productivity. If the fact that the best Android can do is to copy a "normal" laptop then that is as damning of a statement of the state of tablets as I can tell.

Re:None (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061488)


I regret to say the same thing. I actually bought a GalaxyTab 10.1 for the purpose of taking notes in class so I wouldn't have to lug my heavy laptop around. But it is absolutely impossible to take coherent and organize them into a nice file structure.

Laptop hands down. I use OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle for taking notes and drawing diagrams. These are awesome and have absolutely no equivalents on any tablet (Android or otherwise).

ADF Scanner and notepad (4, Informative)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061160)

You don't have to give up on paper. If you are also thinking of getting a printer as part of going back to school, try getting a combination printer/scanner with an auto document feeder. I'm happy with our Canon Pixma 420 (around $100). It's pretty quick to scan 50 pages to PDF.

If her handwriting is decent, it'll even OCR it for her.

If she likes 4x8 notepads, those will scan and display decently on even a Kindle.

If this cheap alternative doesn't work, you still have a decent printer and can still get something digital.

Re:ADF Scanner and notepad (1)

GSloop (165220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061402)

+1 for the parent
or simply shoot the pages with a digital camera and if needed do some post-processing.
You can even have full color if you need it.

This is overkill for your project, but may lead some interesting places. []


onenote or evernote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061192)

get an android tab that uses honeycomb, or get something soon that will have ice crem sandwhich, and use swypes tablet app for text entry. once you get used to it its very fast and can be used with one finger or a stylus. i can type with that faster than with two hands on a tablet or smartphone.

you can use one note 2010 (an MS office product) and mobilenoter on android, but mobilenoter isnt as polished as it could be, or use one note live maybe in the tablets web browser.

evernote is probably a better idea, as it has apps for pretty much everything now, and web sync to keep up with things.

one of the eee transformer tablets might be nice, since you can use a keyboard if you like. there is also the eee slider that has a keyboard built in. those have honeycomb, should get ice cream sandwhich, and get decent reviews, but youre going to shell out some money for them (but it might be good enough to be a laptop replacement)

im waiting to see if the new nook color will get ice cream sandwhich put on it, since its small, cheapish, well specced, and the current nook color has been running custom android builds well for months now.

IPad with Logitech Keyboard/Case and NoteTakerHD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061220)

I use an IPad, and have a bluetooth Logitech Keyboard that doubles as a case. It's about the thickness of a clipboard, maybe a little more. I prefer NoteTaker HD to take notes, so that I can use a Stylus to highlight certain things if I want to, but if you are just going to use the keyboard Pages works just fine.

If it's not an iPad, it's not worth talking about. (0)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061224)


Need to buy an iPad and hand-write notes. That way, any lack of typing skills won't cause you any problems.

Typing is a distraction and stylus is hard... (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061230)

Maybe the ideal solution is a device that does text to speech and stores the contents of the lecture in (time-tracked) text format. The student might want to click a key to occasionally record video if something important is being demonstrated visually.

Re:Typing is a distraction and stylus is hard... (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061392)

err.. Speech to text obviously :-)

The original is still the best. (3, Interesting)

Bocaj (84920) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061234)

After trying many options over the years I still find the tried and true paper version [] works the best. I recommend a small netbook + real notepad. There is just no real substitute for paper yet. I love das blinkinlights as much as anyone but when it comes to a classroom environment, a paper and pencil just works. Especially for math formulas. The only college classes where I used a computer to take notes were programming ones. A laptop or netbook works better because you can use VI or other editor of your choice to copy code examples much more quickly. Also doesn't hurt to be able to actually compile and test something right then and there.

Re:The original is still the best. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061348)

This. Parent post nailed it. I've tried many different things, and there is simply no substitute for a pencil and paper. No stylus and tablet can come close to the fine control, not to mention the light weight, almost-free cost, and ability to erase, tactile feel, and so on. Why adopt a more expensive, inferior solution?

Oh, and the right editor to use is emacs :D.

Why not Livescribe...The best of both worlds (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061236)

I would suggest Livescribe (

I realize the pen is a little on the fat side but the system starts at around $100. Lets you write down physically, electronically records the pen strokes and records audio. It then links the audio with the text you wrote previously so that if you wan to recall what was said when you wrote a particularly interesting comment you are able to listen to what the prof was saying when you wrote it.

Re:Why not Livescribe...The best of both worlds (2)

SScorpio (595836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061412)

I second the recommendation. Your tablet is a pad of paper and the app is a really cool pen. I just wish it was around when I was in college.

OneNote (0)

jader3rd (2222716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061250)

I don't know anyone who's ever used OneNote on a Windows tablet to ever stop using it for note taking/organizing ideas.

Big Chief Tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061268)

College ruled ( legal pad ).

The traditional way (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061272)

Paper, pen or pencil and try real hard to understand what you are being told.

If you are trying to write everything down you are not trying to understand what you are being told.

not much choice: Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061274)

It's the only 10" tablet with an active digitizer currently on the market. 7" is too small, let alone 5.3", Asus's 12" or the Atom ones won't last a day... HTC are supposed to release another active 10" shortly, but the Thinkpad Tablet is out now, has no glaring defects, and is a regular, if a bit bulky (comes with plenty of ports), Android tablet.

Evernote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061276)


iRex iLiad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061296)

Sounds like you're looking for the iRex iLiad -- a letter paper sized ePaper display over the top of a wacom tablet. It's a pity then that iRex went bust in 2010.

Penaultimate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061330)

I bought an iPad when I went to college and Penaultimate (with a Pogo Sketch or you can use (I have not personally used these but I have seen reviews)) also if your college uses blackboard there is an app for that as well.

Windows Tablet, Get a X series Thinkpad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061342)

I did exactly what your wife wants to do - I handwrote all my notes throughout school on a tablet. I have an Android tablet, and I've previously had an iPad, and I can definitively say that there is only one solution that works- but the good side is that it works insanely well.

Get a Windows tablet. Not a consumer one. Get a business-grade version. I recommend the x tablet series from Lenovo. I started with an x41 in 2006 and I still have a lenovo tablet that I carry to any meeting where I have to take notes. The writing on a wacom-based tablet is the closest you can come to paper- paired with Onenote, you can rapidly change pens/colors/ink size, etc and it's honestly a better experience now for me than paper is. In response to the statement above that a stylus doesn't provide a good handwriting experience- the author clearly hasn't used a Windows tablet (not that surprising, it's not like they got much marketshare...)

The iPad versions with their big styli just don't work well for a number of reasons. The tips are huge- hard to see what's under it where you are attempting to write; they are inaccurate- location points just go off for some reason; they don't have hover- you have to touch the screen to locate your pointer and by that point you're at the wrong place; and the apps just suck in comparison to Onenote for inking.

Digital ink can work, and work really, really well. But to do what you want, you need a real machine that was designed to do it, and the only solution out there is the one I've just outlined.

Disclaimer- I worked in consulting for paperless process redesigns. So I used to put together solutions for offices wanting to do what you want to do... I've used most of the solutions out there, and could never suggest any of the Apple or Android tablets for any kind of inking at all.

I never found a good way. (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061346)

A tablet with a stylus is a very awkward way to take notes in a class. Outside of recording the whole lecture, I don't think anything beats a small laptop or netbook for this task. As long as can touch type fairly quickly, it's the best bet. And then you can use something standard like Word or OneNote or whatever OpenOffice and LibreOffice have. Or maybe use AbiWord and a AbiCollab account. I've used this for group projects and it is extremely helpful.

airbooks are almost as light (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061356)

And the keyboard and screen easier on the anatomy than an iPad. I used to use a notebook computer, but their wireless is slow. There are sever new airbook competitors now.

Hybrid oldschool/newschool. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061360)

Pen/paper for notes. Consider the cornell style notebook paper and that methodology.
Whatever e-reader you can afford to lose and can hold the textbooks required.

I've tried different computerized note-taking schemes over the years. The only time it's worked is for programming or sysadmin work where I have a browser up on one display, a terminal window for notes, a terminal window for my editor, and a terminal window for running my code.
The rest of the time... I bring paper and start doodling with my notes.

No. (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061380)

As others have pointed out, there is no viable substitute for pencil and paper, unless she happens to be taking a class where drawings and diagrams will not be used and everything can be typewritten and she had excellent keyboarding skills. Get a good ADF scanner and a good PDF program (such as Bluebeam for the desktop - about $150, but $100 for students) and for her portable (any reader for laptop or something like Goodreader with a dropbox sync account for iPad). Know that finding information in a tablet PDF quickly is an exercise in frustration. Doubly so if that data is in the cloud.

It was my preference in school to use plain copier paper with a sheet of cardstock behind it printed with heavy lines or grid. I've scanned a bunch of notes, but I'll be honest - I keep a paper copy of my "test" sheets in a three ring binder next to my desk for reference. They condense a semester of graduate course work into about 8 very well organized notes per class.

LiveScribe Echo (3, Insightful)

Big Hairy Goofy Guy (866523) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061388)

This doesn't meet the ground rules you laid out, but you could consider taking notes on paper and then getting electronic copies of them.

I'm thinking of the Livescribe products. It's a smart pen/dot paper combination. The big additional win from the Echo or Pulse smartpen is that it will record audio while notetaking. There is an add-on app for the pen that lets you use it as a stylus for your mouse cursor on the laptop (the pen must be tethered to the laptop with a usb cable). I've never used that aspect of the pen.

The recorded audio can be cued up after class by just pointed to the note you wrote at the same time, as well as by more normal play/pause/scrub controls.

Also, the handwritten text can be searched in the base desktop application. There is an additional software that will convert the handwritten image to fully editable text - but again, I haven't bought it or used it.

You can also send complete audio/image combinations to an online account and sync them with your iPad/iPhone, so you don't need to carry around all your notebooks just to read them, though you will need them if you'd like to take new notes (assuming you keep one notebook per class, as intended)

To be honest, I bought this long after school, because I thought it was so damn cool. I haven't had much call to use it, so I can't really be for or against it. Anyone else use it in an actual class? []

OneNote and an old-school tablet. (3, Informative)

adonoman (624929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061400)

Get Microsoft OneNote - it has some crazy fuzzy search ability that lets it search through handwriting, text, and audio without converting the analog sources to text first. Since it doesn't first convert to text, it doesn't commit to a single representation of audio, and just searches by sound, so you don't have the issues of badly converted audio. It just lets you jump to the point(s) in the recording that match sound-wise. It also keeps track of when you take written / typed notes vs. the audio recording, so you can follow the lecture with your notes.

Then go get a MotionComputing tablet off of e-bay. They are WAYY to expensive to buy new ($2500+), but they are awesome, and can be bought off ebay for $300. Something like the LE1700 - get the detachable keyboard too if you're likely to want that. Or else, find one of the fujitsu or acer tablets. All these tablets have wacom digitizers, with a pressure sensitive pen, a right-click button on the pen, and the ability to hover, so interfaces work as well as they do with a mouse.

What about that pen that records everything (1)

FirstNoel (113932) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061404)

Staples had a pen that would record your strokes as you wrote, that you could then download into your PC.

Forget the name, (don't feel like googling), you still need paper though.

I like to write my pseudo-code out ahead of time on certain projects, it would be nice to then import that in when I'm done.

tablets are nice and all, but there's something about hand-writing it out. helps me with memorizing. Typing, "seems" less so.


Old school (1)

The-Blue-Clown (1261404) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061406)

When in college I had Palm Pilots with keyboards, laptops, and portables (lunch box pc's). But honestly the best results I got was using a simple digital recorder to record the audio. A digital camera (no flash) to catch the board. and I sat a really listened. Later I would listen to the audio and type my notes from that. I'd also drop the photos I'd taken in as well. You pay good money for the teacher to be there, but you may not ask a lot of questions if you are too busy taking notes. I sold my notes multiple times and more than paid for my text books. (I got straight A's in a double major involving business and computers.)

BEST Solution! (1)

winspear (2504164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061416)

I would go for a cheap kindle for $88 which can hold a lot of textbooks. Don't waste your money on a good tablet since it may be a distraction during the class where u may receive emails / notifications when you are taking notes. For taking notes, nothing still beats a good old paper and pen. Most of the presentations from courses in most schools are now posted as scanned PDF notes in the respective course websites or the sessions are posted as videos.. So there would not be too much note taking anyway.

Have you looked at LiveScribe? (2)

Seldenm (2503506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061418)

We considered this for our son in college (he wasn't interested), and if I were attending lectures, I'd sure get one of these! The pen records audio as you take notes. Later, tap on the page somwhere and the pen plays back what the instructor was saying at the precise time you were writing at that spot on the page. Can also download the audio to your computer, and does many other things too. Check it out at

Wacom Inkling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061420)

Well, it won't display eBooks for you, but for note-taking, have you seen the (almost available) Wacom Inkling? I haven't had the opportunity to try one of these out myself yet, but I can't wait until I get the chance. I've never liked the tactile feel of stylus on tablet, and while I tried to use a netbook for typing up notes in grad school.... It worked great for plain text, but terribly for diagrams and equations. I ended up going back to good old paper and pencil. Something like the Inkling seems to be the perfect cross between familiar tactile feedback and instant digitization.

(Old) Tablet + Evernote (1)

Ameryll (2390886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061428)

If I don't care about handwriting recognition, then I use EverNote + a hp tx2000 from 4 years ago. (That's a tablet before iPad commandeered the name to mean something entirely different) Evernote has a nice interface for using a stylus to write a note but Evernote retains the original handwriting and never translates it to text. For what I write up via the stylus that works just fine. You should be able to find a modern tablet with a real digitizer, but I haven't a clue what one would call it in order to locate it via google.

Livescribe Pen (4, Informative)

GreyyGuy (91753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061438)

A Livescribe pen would let her take notes like normal and record the lecture. Plus Livescribe will also let you take notes for all your classes in one notebook, and then you can sort the notes into individual classes ion the computer. So only one notebook to carry around at a time. AND the notes can then be put into PDF or loaded into Evernote so you can read them on whatever device you want. Easy and familiar to use to record information and easy to sort it and use the notes later. I love mine for notes in meetings and my own projects!

Go with a LiveScribe pen (2)

JustARandomNickname5 (1138439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061454)

I am in graduate school right now, and purchased a LiveScribe pen for taking notes in class. You write on notebooks made with special paper (they are inexpensive and last a long time), and you have the benefit of having a audio recording of the class synched up with the written notes that you take. You connect your pen to a computer to archive and back up the notes, but you can also leave them on the pen for listening when your computer isn't around.

The pen I have is the 2GB model, which can hold the notes for several classes for a whole semester. I received it as a gift, but they are fairly inexpensive these days, especially given what you'd pay for tuition, books, etc.

The benefit of this approach is that in addition to text notes, you can also draw any diagrams by hand. The audio has also saved my *ss several times, since I could go back and listen to the lecture on important points that were covered too quickly to get them all down on paper.

Try a Tablet PC (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38061480)

Try a tablet PC, or something with a high resolution stylus. My wife really loved note taking in OneNote - she does NOT want to type on the computer while taking notes. Taking notes in OneNote (or similar, but OneNote is very nice) lets you mix writing and diagramming, and then lets you go back and transcribe them to typeset text. I'm sure there's something similar for an IPad, though I don't know anything about how good their stylus is. The Wacom stylus and screens have been pretty awesome, though.

Samsung Series 7 Slate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38061506)

I've been scouting for this a long time, and the conclusion I repeatedly come to is that at least at this time you need a Windows machine to get this kind of functionality. I am a proponent of Open Source, but in the end there is nothing that compares with OneNote so Windows is a necessity. If you want a slate form factor (no connected keyboard) you are on the verge of a tidal wave of what you need, but about a year/half a year too early.

The best compromise for a slate form factor tablet is the Samsung Series 7 Slate. They are having build quality issues at the moment but it appears as though they are working on it.

The reason this slate is particularly good is that it compromises battery life, power, and speed. Users are citing that it gets 6 hours battery life when appropriately configured. It comes with a Wacom tablet which is necessary for inking, Ntrig in my experience is just not up for the task.

If you just need an inking computer, then any Thinkpad X-series tablet will do. I know people using the X61 with good success, and you can get those for around $200 vs $1200 for the Series 7 Slate. It's more cumbersome, so probably not the answer to your needs, but it is an option.

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