Tablet PCs – A Writer’s Infinite Desktop (Part I of V)

May 16, 2008

Convertible Tablet PC in tablet modeIf you rely on your local Best Buy when purchasing a computer or you’re a Mac user, chances are you’ve never even heard of a Tablet PC (TPC).  Mac users aren’t completely out of luck and I’ll speak to that later in Part IV of this five-part series. TPCs are however godsends for the vertical markets they apply to, and I believe writers are one of them, if only they knew the advantages.

What is a Tablet PC? In short, a Tablet PC is a computer that allows for a third input device – a digitizer. We’re all familiar with the keyboard and mouse for inputting information into our computers. But what about a digitizer? A digitizer is used like a pencil or pen and allows the user to draw directly on the screen producing “digital ink”.  A TPC allows for all three – keyboard, mouse, and digitizer.

What’s in it for the writer? Organization and mobility, that’s what.  Doesn’t matter whether you’re a screenwriter or a novelist, Tablet PCs allow for the convenience of writing and storing all your notes in one place within a mobile platform.

Writers write…everywhere.  Coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, the beach, sunny hillsides, between soccer games, carpool lines, on the couch, on planes, trains and automobiles – you name it, the world is our playground!  So a mobile platform can be our best friend and an exceptional tool for time management and productivity.

Mobility Tablet PCs are “the” mobile platform. Three essentials make it so…Light weight, long battery life, and WiFi.  Newer models even have WiLan allowing internet access wherever you get cell phone reception (with the proper cellular data plan, of course).

Fujitsu t4020 in tablet modeTime Management & Productivity Organization = better time management and increased productivity.  The second most important thing we do as writers is take notes and research information.  If you’re like me (before I discovered the TPC) your notes were scattered amongst the newspapers, magazines and books cluttering your desk. That all stopped the day I purchased my first Tablet PC.  What if you’re writing a biography, and your notes consists of voice recordings?  The TPC is perfect, because within Microsoft’s OneNote (kind of like an infinite notepad), you can record and store audio files, as well.


  • Never run out of paper or ink
  • All your notes, research and writing in one place
  • Light and portable
  • Import website research
  • Record audio (great for interviews)


  • More expensive than a regular laptop
  • Smaller screen size (on avg. 12-inch screens)
  • If you’re a Mac user, it is primarily a PC platform


Five-part Series

Tablet PCs – Choosing the Perfect Form Factor for Writers (Part II of V)

Tablet PCs and OneNote – The Writer’s Never-Ending Notebook and Research File (Part III of V)

Tablet PCs and Mac Users (Part IV of V)

 A Wrap-up – Tablet PCs – A Writer’s Infinite Desktop (Part V of V)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Duck May 16, 2008 at 9:19 pm

You are 100% correct as tablets have been in and out of retail shelves and it takes twice as long if not longer to sell a tablet pc to a customer, unless they know what one is. I know, I used to do a lot of retail training and had the Best Buy folks and other attendees sign in on my tablet to tally the attendance instead of paper, and many sales folks themselves are not familiar enough as well with all the functionality.


Robin May 17, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Hi Barbara,

I agree… The staffing isn’t well-versed with the TPC at large retail chains like Best Buy and the tablet itself is either locked down in such a manner that the buyer can’t manipulate the screen. Moreover, the digitizer is always missing from the display model.

However, I do recall a Best Buy in Westminister, CA offering a free Tablet PC class two summers ago. Thought that was great! Especially for students heading off to college and trading in their paper notebooks for a TPC.


Barbara Duck May 20, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Yes they did make some real attempts at that store, and I did some tablet pc demonstrations there a few years back and at that time it was still the first version of the tablet pc and nobody knew what it was! I used to do a bit of training at that store for Intel as well, always equipped with my tablet to run my flash presentations!


Robin May 20, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Oh wow Barbara, small world! I recall a gentleman there by the name of Ben Um. He found me at TabletPCBuzz and told me about the program.


Barbara Duck May 20, 2008 at 3:27 pm

It’s been a while since I have been there since I no longer do training, but get in there every once in a while. Last big training I did for Best Buy, I had all the attendees sign in on the tablet, paperless and even the the HP rep got in to the act and ditched his paper sign in sheets too and sent everyone over to me with the tablet. I started to do that for all my events, no more paper sign in sheets, all on the tablet, just used a Windows Journal template and off it went. I have a lot of information that relates medically to tablets at the “Medical Quack” blog and have a pretty high audience of universities and medical schools now too. Just Google Medical Quack and you’ll find it!


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