Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writing out (and portable writing devices)

I love writing in cafés. (Which is one of the reasons I'm so interested in tablets.)  But it happens much less than I'd like. I just had a realization though: I'd had a sense of Doing Something Important with it. But that doesn't work for some reason. Fine. But if I love doing it, it should be something I do for pleasure. Funny that that never occurred to me before. That's a very different perspective.

Looking for data about whether the Dell Streak might be a good ebook reader, I stumbled over this article. He says some pretty, uh, doubtful things, for example he totally rejects the iPad because he doesn't like iTunes and because so far there's no software for it which allows comments in Word documents. But he does not have to use iTunes (much) (many writing apps allow online sync), and any reasonable feature in software is likely to happen any day, it being missing presently does not mean iPad is no good for work, that's sloppy reasoning. (He also can't understand why anybody would want a physical keyboard with it. Huh?)

But he does say an interesting thing, which I have also been wondering about for about twenty years: why have nobody ever made a good portable device, smaller and lighter than a laptop, meant for writers? It's so strange. The closest thing, and very good, is the Alphasmart Neo. But it has such a tiny, low-contrast screen, it's a pity really. And the Neo is meant for kids, not for writers.

It's just strange, in the sheer profusion of portable devices which have appeared in the past couple of decades, why have nobody ever made one meant to be good at just one thing, writing?

The key thing would be solid buy simple word processing software, compactness and lightness, a good but not large screen, and a full sized and really good keyboard (which the Neo has).


Alex said...

So this is one that is dear to me. I want to resume writing, but for the longest while have not had an input device ( I need one, I never type up handwritten work, I get bored transcribing).

Sure we have several computers at home, but we also have several people, and they all seem to be busy using their allocated device. My work laptop has a good keyboard, but is too cumbersome for bus and ferry usage, and also has usage restrictions such that I don't want to use it for personal use.

I did try out a netbook recently, Samsung, had a really nice keyboard, and compact size. unfortunately couldn't try it out on my lap, and I was told it wouldn't have the firepower to run Dragon, in case I wanted to do some text to speech.

My current boss used to work for LiveScribe, and he has one of their pens. He uses is religiously. I guess this is a portable writing device, with instant paper back up.

No I don't get sales commission.

Alex said...

Isn't it strange, if I'm not logged in to blogger it doesn't give me the "email follow up" option.

eolake said...

Even without a dedicated machine, there are still many decent options. For example I'm surprised at how many people really like writing on the iPad, even without an external keyboard.
(Ooh, and Dragon actually has a free app for iPad. It gets around the power issue by processing it online. But it's almost instant anyway.) (It works badly for *me*, but famously *all* dictation apps/machines work poorly for me.)