What got you In to Tablet PCs?

So, we’ve had the conversation of sharing our Tablet PC history, but a conversation with @Marty and @Desertlap had me thinking about WHY we’re Tablet PC aficionados.

For me, it’s all about art. I’ve been a traditional artist for a long time, mainly watercolor, markers, and inks. And while I can carry around a sketchbook, and a pen pretty easily, when I add watercolors, or my marker set to the mix, now I’m carrying quite a bit more, and there’s setup involved, especially for the watercolor.

Way back in the day I had friends in graphic design school who worked with Photoshop and a Wacom tablet (this is before they had any screen tablets), and I messed around with them a little. I liked the ability to edit my work easily and fill in base colors, etc, and always thought, man, if they could make this a screen, and computer all in one, I would be all over it. Unfortunately, when the Asus EP 121 came out and was my dream device, I didn’t have the cash flow to buy one at the time. But I did eventually save up enough to buy an HTC Flyer as a digital sketchbook that I downloaded Evernote and Sketchbook Pro onto and used as a digital notebook and sketchbook. I loved that thing as long as it lived and I was hooked.

The OS isn’t necessarily all that important to me as long as I have something to take notes/write on, and a good art program, so I’ve tried Android, Windows, and IOS, and currently am using iPad Pros for my art.

There’s definitely trade offs. Digital art will probably never really replace traditional media fully for me, but the ability to just pick up my IPP and start sketching, and turn that into a full piece, without having to pull out paints, a larger canvas, etc, but to work anywhere at any time on it, is still amazing to me, and so very worth it.


Oh man! I was a developer(or should I say the developer) at a two year tech school, and they issued me a Gateway M275. Changed my entire world view! I have been chasing digital note-taking every since!

What a beaut!


I got into Tablet PC’s because I wanted to be a digital artist. I had an Intuos tablet and it was the (seemingly) natural evolution. It was more practical (at the time) than getting a full blown Cintiq.

I was an artist and it was a lot easier to keep my drawing a secret from my very asian very overbearing parents if it were on the PC. It was a low barrier-to-entry introduction to color (which i struggled with since I was mostly a pencil and pen artist at the time).

Though my Tablet PC history was as follows

Asus Slate (dead)
Wacom Cintiq Companion (dead)
Samsung Notebook 9 (still going)

After that, I’ve kinda branched off into using Galaxy Tabs. I tried iPad for a few, I didn’t like the EVERYTHING about it.

Though my intended career path took a nosedive, I’ve gotten too accustomed to the portability. I’d like to say I’m a traditional artist first and foremost, but I love the convenience of the digital tech too much. Plus the classes I took (other than foundation classes) were all Digital tech for a game or tv/movie pipeline.


For me it was the ability to collect and organize my notes, which I take constantly throughout the day. My filing system, to the extent that I had one, was to put my notes related to specific matters in a general “notes” subfolder. I would date them so they could be filed chronologically. But what I found was that, once then made it into the folder, they became a part of the universe, never to be seen again.

In 2009, I found this site and the developing tablet and pen technologies made me realize that I could not only keep and organize my notes into electronic files but I could access the information at will with term searches. I was hooked.

For awhile I used a tablet and kept my notebook (X301 Thinkpad). But, as tablets developed into 2 in 1’s, I began to think I could eliminate a device if I could merge the two functions. That’s when Windows OS became critical because of my general office tasks and my dependence on legacy programs.

The Surface was a breakthrough and the development of the Go series moved me from low power Atoms to more acceptable power.


TLDR: Productivity

When they first came out, I was managing litigation in several states and cases. There was no cloud storage at the time, and it was impossible to carry all my physical notes and papers with me between cities, buildings and meetings.

The Tablet PC made it possible to (1) keep all my handwritten notes with me at all times and (2) annotate PDFs with pen to send the document back to staff to make changes far more efficiently. Handwriting was important for this purpose because, at that time, it was both socially awkward and visually difficult to type notes while interviewing people or in meetings.

I was such a frequent contributor to the original Tablet PC Buzz that MS asked me to join the “MVP” program for tablets. I’ve now carried a pen enabled tablet for over 20 years.

Being someone who still uses fountain pens, the ability to continue taking handwritten notes with instant access made the use case go for me.

Amusing anecdote: I was BYOD before that was cool. I got noticed by a senior executive when I connected my tablet to the projector, put up a chart/document and started marking it up while the group discussed. He asked if I had one of those John Madden telestrators. When I finished, the IT guy responsible for the meeting equipment took the VGA cable away from me and snarked, “we don’t support THAT.” To which I replied, “I didn’t ask for support.” That was a good day, Tater.


Microsoft gave its first Tablet PC MVP class one of those. It was heavy and the pen sucked, but it did help change my perspective.


My story is basically the same as @Bronsky (except I am not as focused) and @Bishop (not as proficient). One of my partners was using OneNote to type in notes on an early color laptop, and I stumbled onto the HP/Compaq tablet PC and I was hooked on handwriting on a screen.


It was OneNote that brought me to, and keeps me in, the tablet sphere.


BTW: For the younger folks around here, the OG OneNote allowed you to keep outline structures in hand-written notes. Set the outline type (bullets, numbers, letters), and the program would determine when you meant to indent or change to the next item. Each line/paragraph could be dragged up, down, deeper in the outline. When it performed handwriting recognition on your page, the output included the outline numbering. Good times. Long since deprecated.


Sounds fairly similar to me. I was originally planning a career as an artist full time back in 2000 something, but life brought about a lot of changes. Though I can “technically” say I’m a professional artist, as I have been paid for, and have a very small amount of niche commercial work out there. (all work done digitally on my 12.9 IPP)

When One Note dropped this feature is when I gave up on it. It’s nothing like it used to be. There might be some great advancements, but I really loved the old One Note. But honestly, I never hand write anything anymore, so I guess I’m kind of grateful for that. Now that portable keyboards are so much better, I just type all of my notes/writing.


Probably around 12 years ago, I had a Toshiba Windows laptop (the Toshiba Portege) that I would bring with me to high school and take handwritten notes on it. It was only around $400-500, and it did all the things I needed it to do in regards to notetaking, plus the game Osu! was getting big around that time and tablets weren’t really a thing, nor was the game supported by anything other than Windows at the time. So that was one of the ways I was able to play it. The 1st gen iPad had just about come out around that time as well.

The laptop was this one! I remember the fingerprint scanner on the screen, the bulky bottom, and the huge bezel.


iPads and Android tablets then started getting big, but I didn’t really care much for them because they didn’t do anything that an iPhone or Android phone couldn’t. It wasn’t until the addition of the stylus on devices like the Microsoft Surface that my interest in tablets re-emerged, and I ended up with a Surface 3 to take notes for in college, which actually lasted me years until the screen started to develop defects, and the processor of course being a very aged Intel Atom at this point made it harder to use.

My interest again re-emerged since I’m taking some security certification classes and would prefer to not use a notebook that smudges all my notes, and requires me to carry around a notebook. It’s nice to be able to open OneNote from my PC or Android tablet and get the same notes everywhere. Right now I am noticing though that good note-taking apps seem to be limited to Samsung Notes and OneNote, and the Android version of OneNote is pretty barebones, though it does serve its purpose.

With the Surface not doing too hot as of late, maybe Microsoft will do a push for their note-taking software instead and improve the experience on Android. Still to this day, there really isn’t a perfect experience, but I’m telling you that my Galaxy Tab S9 has come damn close and is the best experience I’ve had with drawing tablets yet.


What job(s) specifically (or general field) were you looking to get into?

My original plan was to be a comic artist. At the time Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design had a 3 year B.A. degree with comic art as part of the core. I and a friend of mine were going to go together, but life just sort of happened. When that fell through I was also interested in doing graphic design, illustration, and some fine art. At one point I had an idea to do some fine art type illustrations and paintings on special designed coffee tables and worked up some drafts for those. One of the designs was a coffee table with warped legs that looked a bit like burnt vine charcoal. I was going to do different charcoal art on the top and then put an acrylic glaze over it. It was a fun idea, but didn’t take traction before I had to get a real job that took too much of my time.


Note taking by typing works well when it it “static” but when you’re in a meeting, conference call, or heaven forbid teams meeting, being able to scratch out your notes is still a necessity. I’ve found clients generally get used to you writing the notes, even on a screen, fairly quickly, but if you try typing the reactions range from - “are you participating” to “are you a stenographer”


Typing notes is so distracting. I have have been at depositions where young attorneys, banging away on their keyboards, have been asked if they could put their computers away and take notes by hand. Their responses are precious. In the Courtroom, forget it. Sometimes even taking notes on a tablet distracts jurors at trial. I have gone back to paper and pen at trial. At meetings, during document reviews and other office tasks, I take electronic notes. I use the Boox quite a bit.


For me it was research. Spent an inordinate amount of time in research libraries searching through books (mostly in Japanese) and being able to take a snapshot and add notations about source and scratch som translation on top of the original and then transfer it to my desktop system was worth lugging the Surface Pro 2 around (that one is heavy).


Bought myself a regular Wacom tablet to celebrate my first job out of college. I loved the idea of digital art.

I also wished I could draw on screen and saw an eBay listing for a Motion Computung tablet…


For me it was the Surface Pro 3 and the ability to take notes, sketch (albeit crudely) and just to use touch generally to interact with a computer.

I’m a big couch surfer, casual YouTube viewer and ebook reader.

To me a tablet, currently a work Pro 9 5g an iPad Pro 12.9 suits the vast majority of my computing tasks.

I also have an honestly ridiculous number of peripherals to extend the functionality of a " tablet" to also be a desktop or laptop substitute, but at the end of the day, I like carrying a relatively small and lightweight device to do the majority of tasks I do during the day which is gathering information (notes) and researching various information.

I, like @dstrauss still pine/hope/chase the “one device to rule them all” but ten years plus on, that seems in some ways to be further away than ever, though the be honest, It doesn’t help that I keep moving the goalposts as to what success actually requires.


There were two strands that got me here. One was the agenda they made us all carry in middle school. I really enjoyed having a written plan. I started going down the PDA rabbit hole, though it wasn’t until college I was able to afford a cheap used one. In my Master’s I saved enough pennies to get a nice new one running Word and OneNote. That tiny little thing replaced my paper notebooks and I handwrote notes through my Master’s program on a 4" resistive touch screen. I had a dream of scanning and uploading all the handouts to it also, but realized referencing handouts and notes on that tiny screen was impractical.

Another chunk of years later, I realized my dream with a cheap used TC1100. I was carrying a million books to teach (ages 4 to adult, beginner to high school, violin and viola) and started the process of digitizing. The tablet weighed a few less pounds than all the sheet music, and it could run smartmusic which provided adjustable piano accompaniment, and I filled out practice charts in OneNote that I emailed after the lessons. That meant that even if a student forgot their previous chart, I could pull it up to see what we were working on, and I could flip back and see a longer term picture of what they had been doing.

But what really put me over the edge was a gig playing Shostakovitch’s 8th string quartet. It’s all go all the time. At least 5 pages in a row with no break to turn. Our first violinist memorized large chunks of it to avoid having to turn pages. The other two were able to negotiate things with a few three page across turns. I scanned it, picked up a few spare batteries for the TC1100 and a wired foot pedal (the bluetooth ones either didn’t exist yet, or I didn’t trust them, I forget), and performed off the TC1100. This was, I think, just a year or two before the first iPad, but I’ve performed almost exclusively off tablets ever since. And as they become more mainstream, I’m finding more willing stand partners for the few times I play with shared stands.


When I replaced my Miix 700 with my IPP, I fully intended to use the IPP as my everything device, aside from my phone, which was a Huawei Mate 20X that I used for the majority of my work tasks when not at work. I think if I had not been laid off less than a month after buying the IPP, I probably would have stuck with it for quite awhile. Almost everything I did on my personal time at the time could be done with just a few apps and the magic keyboard and pencil. But, that layoff caused a sudden career shift and now I’m a software developer and develop personal projects on the side. So yeah, that goalpost moved quite a bit for me as well.


For me, it was a book — Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye which posited a small tablet computer which one could write on and draw on w/ a stylus — ever since then, I’ve wanted such a computer.

Since then I’ve bought more than I’d care to admit/count — a few highlights not fully captured in the signature:

  • a Koala Pad attached to a Commodore 64 in my high school’s computer lab — it proved to me that I could draw, if only I didn’t have to submit my ideas to fragile paper which was all-too likely to tear or fray at my frequent erasures
  • Go Corp.'s PenPoint — this, running on an NCR-3125 and a matching Wacom ArtZ tablet attached to a NeXT Cube represents the high-water mark of my computer experience — it was the first system I ever used which didn’t constantly feel limited — I would draw/sketch using FutureWave SmartSketch and take notes in the PenPoint notebook, then transfer everything over to the Cube using a serial connection and put together final projects using Altsys Virtuoso 2.0 and TeXview.app. Anyone who hasn’t read it should go read Jerry Kaplan’s book StartUp right now.
  • that said, my Fujitsu Stylistic ST-4110 was my most favourite every computer system — even my beloved Samsung Galaxy Book 12 wasn’t quite its equal — it’s just really nice to be able to take a computer down to the beach and use it in full, bright, direct sunlight — AT&T promised that we would be able to send faxes from the beach in a commercial, and it was the only computer which delivered on that w/o a compromise
  • that said, I’m liking my Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 well enough (except when I forget to go into Settings and toggle from one pen mode to another so as to switch between Macromedia Freehand and OpenSCAD Graph Editor, or need to select text in a web browser) — really hoping that Samsung makes a competitor to the Lenovo Yogabook 9i, though I’ve been considering getting an Android tablet to pair w/ it and my Kindle Scribe and Galaxy Note 10+, and I still need to update my Wacom One…