Tablet PCs: Ideal for Classroom Use

For the last few years I’ve been using my Pocket PC with portable keyboard for note-taking in my college classes. With a WiFi NIC, IR keyboard, and campus-wide wireless access, I could get and send email, get and send IMs, and browse standards-based web sites, in addition to taking notes in Pocket Word, all in a package that weighed less than a pound and fit easily in the palm of my hand. The down side was that Pocket Word was too simplistic (no multi-level outlining, no styles, free-form drawing was difficult to use in conjunction with typed text, and inked text was not very usable due to screen size constraints and ink-to-text translation services that were difficult (at best) to use. But, bottom line, it got the job done… until I hit my economics and statistic classes where equations and charts were used every other sentence.

Enter my new Tablet PC. I purchased a Fujitsu Lifebook (more for their ability to get it to me quickly than for a full feature set — I’d still be waiting for my Toshiba Tablet PC, tho it was the preferred pick due to the faster technology it includes, but I digress…).

This Tablet PC is a laptop with WiFi (B and G), PCMCIA slots, USB, and has a stylus-input screen that swivels back on the keyboard for “slate-like” input (for my charts and equations, not to mention free-form text). For space/weight/battery saving measures I specifially picked a device without a floppy or optical drive, which hasn’t been a problem.

Overall, the experience, especially when teamed up with Microsoft Office OneNote, has been superb! Now I read that to jump-start the market, Microsoft and Tablet OEMs are beginning to offer Tablets to faculty and students at certain “high profile” universities (read: MIT and the like… unfortunately Weber State isn’t on their list).

If you haven’t done so already, you deserve looking at what Tablet PCs have to offer!


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