Writing On Glass

PHOTO CREDIT: "Tablets" by Martin Voltri on Flickr (Creative Commons)
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Infinite Notebook

Before the age of touchscreen computers, smartphones and tablets, I dreamed of a simple computing device that could do just one thing, mimic pen and paper - an infinite virtual notebook contained within a single page. The modern Windows 8.1 tablet w/ Wacom digitizer is the closest we’ve come to that ideal, plus they are fully functioning PCs as well.

Once I knew such a thing existed, I wanted one. The questions was, as always, how much was I willing to spend?

Tablet One

Samsung Series 7 Slate

Specs: i5 2467M, 4gb ram, 64gb SSD, Windows 7, 11.6” screen, weight: 2 pounds, price $1099, released in 2011

Is $1099 too much for a device used primarily as a digital notepad? YES! So I waited a couple years until I could find one on eBay for $300 in ok condition. I also bought a copy of Windows 8 and installed it immediately. I used the heck out of this tablet for taking notes. Since it’s a full Windows 8.1 PC, I also used it for games, web surfing, photo editing and writing code as well.

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Tablet Two

Lenovo Thinkpad S1 Yoga (ultrabook/tablet hybrid)

Specs: i7 4600U, 8gb ram, 256gb SSD, Windows 8.1, 12.5” screen, 3.6 pounds, price $1499, released in 2013

I was actually looking for an ultrabook when I bought this. I loved having a pen tablet, so the hybrid concept drew me in. I thought I could replace two devices with one. That plus a 7 hour battery life, are what sold me on this machine. I grabbed one on eBay for $750.

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Tablet Three

Thinkpad Tablet 2

Specs: Atom Z2760, 2gb ram, 64gb SSD, Windows 8.1, 1.3 pounds, price $799, released in 2012

This is my current note taking tablet. I found one on eBay for $150. It’s light. It’s small. It’s got great battery life. It’s almost exactly what I want.

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Now the Easy Part…

Once I had a tablet, I was set. I could start taking notes then. Right? Almost… The Windows Journal app comes pre-installed in Windows 8, but it’s not widely known or particularly good. Recently, Microsoft released a free version of OneNote, a popular note taking app with many features. Unfortunately, like of so many other MS products (ahem… Word), it’s bloated and overly complicated to use. All I want is a digital notepad. How hard is that?

My app of choice is Bamboo Paper for that very reason. It’s simple to use, has all the right features and it’s free (plus some Pro in-app purchases). In under a minute, I can wake my tablet, start Bamboo Paper, choose a notebook and start writing. I use it daily. Every note I’ve taken is just a few clicks away. It is essential to my workflow.