Mossberg’s Mailbox

The Writing on the Tablet

Published on February 29, 2012
by Walt Mossberg


I’d like to purchase a tablet for use in the classroom and group meetings. I’d like a tablet that can take written notes in PDF and PowerPoint files, has a Web-browsing experience similar to that on a laptop, and can at least open Word and Excel files. With the iPad 3’s impending release, I’m tempted to jump in but I’ve also heard there are some interesting Windows 8 and Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablets coming out later this year. What do you recommend?


I can’t make a recommendation now, since none of these tablets is out. However, I can make a few observations. Even on the current iPad, you can annotate files and take written notes in various apps. But the iPad isn’t designed at heart for freehand note-taking and annotation, and you’d have to buy an add-on stylus. Some Android devices—even without Ice Cream Sandwich—have integrated note-taking and the stylus as a core feature. The latest is the Samsung Galaxy Note, a ginormous phone that is really a small tablet. As for Windows 8, it is designed to run the full version of Office. And the preview device Microsoft has supports handwriting and has a stylus in the box.


I use Adobe Connect for online training, and want to use the iPad. I’ve been using the Adobe Connect iPad app. I find it okay but not great. I had high hopes for Online Live Desktop. I purchased the subscription and entered the Adobe Connect Meeting room without incident. When I attempted to activate the iPad camera and microphone, I couldn’t. Why?


OnLive doesn’t interact with the iPad’s native features—even the virtual keyboard. I hadn’t tried the camera or microphone, but I am not surprised you couldn’t make them work. OnLive essentially uses the iPad as a terminal for a copy of Windows that is running on a remote server. The company is working on tapping the iPhone’s native features.

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