Responsive stylus tablets
November 2, 2017 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I really like taking notes by hand, and would love to be able to do so on a tablet. Unfortunately every tablet I've tried has been terrible to write with, with the latency for "ink" to appear after the pen touches an area being too high, and the strokes being too thick (which I assume is caused by poor sensitivity) being the killers. A few days ago though, I tried the Blackboard Boogie Board and was amazed at how good it was. Is there something like it that gets closer to a "real" tablet?

In particular, I'd like to be able to annotate pdfs, try out various notetaking apps, integrate the things I sketch with cloud accounts, etc. The Boogie Board was really just a clear overlay that you can put on top of sketches; I want a real tablet in the package. The other nice thing about it was how big it was -- you had the same amount of space as an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper.

Does something like what I want exist?
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. to Technology (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Microsoft Surface Pro with the Surface Pen is a very good stylus experience. It's pretty expensive though.

If you don't mind using an older version of Android, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 tablet can be had for fairly cheap. It has its own proprietary stylus too, and works just like you think it should.
posted by FakeFreyja at 12:52 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

The iPad pro 12.9" with the Apple pencil ticks these boxes. I'm using the Notes Plus app for handwriting. They're pretty spendy, but the 2015 model is still out there for a little less money, and it is plenty powerful.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:53 PM on November 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

I've been using the 10.5" iPad pro with apple pencil, with the Good Notes 4 app, for about a month now, and it has been a very good experience. I particularly like the split screen ability, to both draw on documents as well as take notes. I also use the procreate app to dabble in drawing, and have done more drawing in the last few weeks than I had in years.

The Apple Pencil really sold me on it, and as someone who prefers to write (and hates how many trees I was killing printing things at work), I am enjoying handwriting my emails and having a decent level of accuracy. I find the size is sufficient, as the 12" model really felt giant to be carrying around daily. (I use my iPad continuously at work; my work has secure apps I can use for sensitive data)

I however will admit that as this is my first apple device, it was way more expensive than I wanted to spend, and I am moderately dismayed that you can't find decent apps for free; and have paid more for apps on this device than on all of my android devices previously.
posted by larthegreat at 1:10 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've actually tried the tablets mentioned (iPad, and Galaxy Note), and hit the latency issues I'm referring to; the responsiveness there was "hey, that's pretty good for a tablet", rather than "I can't tell the difference between this and pen+paper". I'll try to find a Surface Pro to play with. Thanks all!
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2017

I hated this on iPad's past, but the new 10.5 Pro w/ Apple Pencil made all the difference for me. If you haven't tried one of the newer ones, you should.
posted by jdl at 1:38 PM on November 2, 2017 [5 favorites]

I haven't used one but the ReMarkable looks good
posted by KateViolet at 1:39 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have a solution, but this might help understand the problem:

Applied Sciences Group: High Performance Touch

It's a 3 minute video from 2012, Microsoft Research showing that humans can detect anything more than 1ms of lag with touch displays.

The newest Apple iPad pro with pencil claims 20 ms delay....

so maybe stick with paper until they can get 20x better.
posted by sol at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

I love my surface pro 4, but it has detectable latency. Definitely try it out before committing
posted by Valancy Rachel at 5:21 PM on November 2, 2017

Ahh, sol has it. The product I was so impressed with is pressure activated, so it can cut the processor and screen refresh out of the loop entirely. Looks like I am indeed out of luck for a tablet that does as well (at least, until computers get better).
posted by The Notorious B.F.G. at 5:34 PM on November 2, 2017

I wonder if you've looked into a hybrid (write on real paper, have it stored digitally) like Wacom's Bamboo line. I know the company principally as a vendor of products aimed at digital artists, but it might be worth testing one. Their "pen-tablets" are pressure activated, too.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:44 PM on November 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Wacom makes the closest I've come to a no-detectable-latency pad, although the ones I've used require a separate screen and simply function as peripheral devices.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:20 AM on November 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a Lenovo yoga notebook which can act as a tabled when the screen is folded back completely flat. I never use it as a tablet - just not part of my work habits - but I just tried it with the included pen and was far more impressed than I ever was when I tried taking notes with an ipad. Obviously find a Best Buy or some place where you can test it, but that's another option.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:33 AM on November 3, 2017

Yeah, I use a Wacom tablet for work stuff, and I think it's pretty great in this respect, but as mentioned above, it requires a separate screen. Still, it may be worth considering if you're willing to put up with the second screen as a trade off. I use it with the Notability app on my macbook pro to mark up pdfs, grade assignments, etc.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:13 PM on November 3, 2017

If it's true that the new iPads are better than the old ones, and you have tried only the old ones, it's worth giving the new ones a shot next time you're near an Apple Store. I'm a big pen and paper fan, and I am now using Notability on a 2017 12.9" iPad Pro with Apple Pencil to do all my note-taking and love it. I just now tried writing as fast as I could and couldn't detect any delay at all, and I like to think I am sensitive to such things (though you are probably even more so).
posted by dfan at 1:30 PM on November 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

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