The Apple iPad with its capacitive, finger-friendly touchscreen display may be the most successful consumer oriented tablet computer to date. But long-time tablet enthusiasts have one major complaint: You can’t use a digital pen or stylus with it. And that makes writing or drawing on the screen more difficult than it would be with a sharp-tipped pointing device.

A number of old school Windows tablets have shipped with active digitizers, which offer excellent support for writing and drawing, and which feature built-in handwriting recognition software. But with most major PC makers preparing to launch new low cost consumer tablets in the next year or so, we keep hearing about machines with capacitive touchscreens running Google Android, Palm WebOS, and other operating systems that weren’t really designed for handwriting.

Now The Examiner reports that HP’s upcoming tablet (which may be called the PalmPad), could have a screen with an active digitizer and support for a Wacom pen. The “insider” source says the tablet would also have a capacitive display, which means it should recognize multitouch finger gestures as well.

This all sounds like a winning combination for the upcoming WebOS tablet. But I have to wonder what it means for the price. I also wonder if there are enough stylus fans out there to make this product a success. I’m sold on the idea that a stylus is mightier than a finger for many activities, but a lot of folks really seem to think that stylus input went out of fashion with the original Palm Pilot. Or maybe they just lost their stylus when they lost their original Palm Pilot.

via Pre Central

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5 replies on “HP’s upcoming tablet may recognize pen, fingertip input”

  1. I’d definitely purchase a tablet that was sized similarly to the iPad with both capacitive and active digitizer capability!

    I love my iPad but hate the lack of ink input capability (and a pogo stick or finger on a capacitive screen is NOT the answer). Like Shawn I want to be able to comfortably rest my hand on the screen while using the digitizer to take fine grained ink notes and then easily switch to capacitive touch for moving around my apps and general use of the tablet.

    When combined with a decent “Notebook” app I could see this completely replacing my current pile of ring bound paper notebooks that I keep customer meeting notes in and it would be so handy to be able to quickly pull up all notes related to a particular customer without having to page through notebook after notebook like I do with the current paper versions.

  2. Hey guys i need some help im in medical school and iv looked and researched far above my level of knowledge in these areas but iv come across many issues concerning the stylus (i want something i can take fine point notes with on power point slides w/ no need of converting my handwriting) with pressure sensitivity like the wacom drivers support…and not something that will make me have to have a weird hand posotion to take notes on bc i cant rest my palm on the screen…also i like the duel digitizer idea but it would have to be further than 1 inch from the screen before it switched to purely stylus bc i cant keep my hand rested on the tablet the whole time..thats annoying…w/out worrying about my palm marking up my slides…any ideas on what r my best options (iv ruled out the ipad bc of the operating sys doesnt support Wacom press. sensitivity and fine writing and the fact that i cant rest palm on screen…ruled out wacom bc it doesnt support microsoft software (powerpoint, etc)…and well not sure about some of these other devices like the HP Touchsmart Tm2 bc it only switches to stylus mode within an inch of screen..so afraid palm would mark up screen and ruled out ASUS bc again cant rest palm on screen…any ideas would be much appreciated. Prefer something similar to ipad but tablet PC would do as well

  3. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d be all over a capacitive screen with an active digitizer. I love the simplicity of the multi-touch gesture controls for program interfaces, but every time I go to put a note on my iPod Touch, I can’t help but miss the pen input on my old WinMo handheld. Having 512 or 1024 levels of pressure would be the icing on the awesome cake that would allow me to start sketches on a tablet before moving them to my main desktop with its dedicated pen input. If HP’s upcoming slates feature this combination, they are welcome to my money…

  4. I’m hoping here that stylus means the pen associated with an active digitizer and not just a pecking-stick for a touchscreen. The average consumer doesn’t want a resistive screen with a resistive stylus OR a capacitive screen with a capacitive stylus. Both touchscreen stylus options miss the brilliance of what exactly you can do with an active digitizer.

    Capacitive touch with an active digitizer would be a HUGE consumer win, based on my highly unscientific habit of lending people computers. Because I have a lot of devices that most people have never seen, I’m pretty generous about handing them over to strangers when I’m out and about so that they can see what they’re missing. I also like talking to people about technology, seeing what they know, and trying to learn a thing or two myself.

    Most people who I talk to prefer capacitive touchscreens over resistive touchscreens (I don’t). When I hand them over a Tablet PC with an active digitizer they are floored. The “hover” feature of an active digitizer and pen is pretty unbeatable. An active digitizer experience is far more “magical” than any capacitive touchscreen, multi-touch or otherwise. Most people cite hover, accuracy, and decreased occlusion (the pen blocks a lot less of the screen then your hands and fingers do) as things that they really like. Most people agree that the pen is also far more comfortable to use for long periods of time then fingers. Personally, I think that pressure sensitivity is another big win in terms of the active digitizer, although only a minority of the people who I let try my Tablet PCs seem to care about that. I imagine if more than just drawing software took advantage of this feature then more people would care (for example, I’ve always wished that I could just press the scrollbar to scroll in a window, with a harder press resulting in longer scroll.) Perhaps one day we’ll have “pressure gesture” much in the same way that multi-touch expanded to include new interface gestures.

    Interestingly, almost everybody I talk to says that they like the active digitizer more than a capacitive touchscreen, but some of those still report that if they could only have one input method on a slate then they’d take the capacitive touch for reasons like “it’s more familiar”, I can use it while I drive” (don’t get me started on that), and “I’m afraid of losing the pen”. Recently, I’ve acquired a pure slate with both a capacitive touchscreen and an active digitizer. While I’m not personally into the capacitive part of it as much, this is now universally heralded as the best way to do a slate by non-tech types who I hand it over to. This is a beloved piece of technology and people “get it”. It gives them what we’ve come to call the “fast casual” input method of capacitive touch with the more formal, comfortable, accurate, and responsive input method of the active digitizer. And just to let you know how confused some people are about technology, most don’t know that active digitizers already exist and believe that the pen is some sort of special technology that’s emerged because of capacitive multi-touch.

    HP already has two convertible Tablet PCs that have capacitive multi-touch and active digitizers (I own neither) together, and if they can bring forth a slate with similar goodness then they have a chance. Having said all of this, price and battery life are all that’s going to matter.

  5. IMO; a stylus would be great for writing/scribling notes. I think that it would be to do with ones fingers. I think it is great that it supports both.

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