Which Wacom tablet do I need?
June 11, 2014 2:45 PM   Subscribe

My dad, who is an engineering professor who can barely type, is looking for something that can help him put together lecture slides. I'm not sure if we want to attempt handwriting recognition, or just hand-write slides (similar to Khan Academy videos), but would a Wacom tablet suffice? If so, which model should I get?

Note: He has a Windows 8 touchscreen desktop. Not sure if that matters.
posted by acidic to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
There are several iPad apps that could do this. Educreations is one that comes to mind. Is an iPad an option?
posted by tamitang at 3:46 PM on June 11, 2014

You might be better off with a general speech recognition package.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:25 PM on June 11, 2014

Windows 8 comes with handwriting recognition. If it's a touchscreen, you can use the pop-up touch keyboard in the task bar, switch it into handwriting mode, and "write" with your finger, no additional hardware needed. Naturally, you can also get an external digitizer tablet; if all you need is handwriting recognition, you can get cheaper stuff than the Wacom tablets (I've heard good things about Monoprice tablets), that will work just as well, and pretty much any recently made Wacom tablet will work fine too. Just check to see if they have Windows 8 drivers before you buy.

If you decide to explore the speech recognition route, Windows 8 has some basic speech recognition built-in as well.

Good luck!
posted by Aleyn at 5:56 PM on June 11, 2014

Oh, I forgot to mention, you can also get capacitive styluses that will work directly with the touch screen, which might work better than just plain fingers for daily use.
posted by Aleyn at 7:28 PM on June 11, 2014

I have an older version of this wacom tablet and I love it, I've had it for 10 years, A++ would buy again.

If you want to capture handwriting however it is only ok - it depends on how well he could control the pen. I've tried to 'write' on microsoft paint & equivalent and found it hard to keep the pen steady & straight. So you dad might prefer the Wacom Intuos which I also tried and was much more sensitive.

Since your dad is a prof there could be a disability resource centre at the university which should have Wacom tablets on hand for him to borrow and demo. That's worth checking out at least.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:42 PM on June 11, 2014

Just bear in mind that using a Wacom tablet isn't quite the same as picking up a pen and writing. There's some learning involved and even when you're good at using it, it's never a substitute for the real thing.

Could you just get him a scanner and scan his hand-written slides, then put those in PowerPoint?
posted by picea at 5:54 AM on June 12, 2014

A wacom tablet sounds like overkill for this, especially if he already has a windows 8 touch screen. It can already handle handwriting recognition, especially if you get a cheap touch screen stylus.

If you do decide a digitizer tablet is the right move, just get a cheaper monoprice tablet. Wacom's 2000 or so levels of pressure sensitivity are mostly just artists. You won't notice a difference between a cheaper tablet.
posted by cirrostratus at 10:13 AM on June 12, 2014

As cirrostratus alludes to, Monoprice has drawing tablets for dirt cheap. Their biggest, fanciest one is $50. I have one and it works about as well as the fancy Wacom ones I've used, although the pressure sensitivity is slightly wonky and there's no convenient "eraser tool" on the stylus. If it's not for art purposes it should work fine.
posted by neckro23 at 12:12 AM on June 13, 2014

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