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Input Devices GUI Apple

Pen vs. Keyboard vs. Touch vs. Everything Else 203

Posted by timothy
from the good-clicky-keyboard-is-the-way-to-go dept.
benz001 writes "In the run-up to everyone's favourite tablet, Phil Gyford goes back through his gadget collection and compares text entry speeds to see which one comes out on top. It's not what you'd call a rich data set, and of course the Qwerty keyboard comes up trumps, but the iPhone virtual keyboard came in a surprisingly close second, just edging out the Treo — and all the keyboard solutions regardless of how small and fiddly beat real pen and paper. This probably matches most people's experience (when was the last time you had to handwrite more than a bullet point in a meeting?) and gels pretty well with Macworld's predictions but I'm still hoping for sub-vocal voice recognition. (Jump straight to the final results here)."
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Pen vs. Keyboard vs. Touch vs. Everything Else

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  • Slow QWERTY typer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rah'Dick (976472) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:20AM (#30858548)
    The chart looks to me as if Mr. Gyford is typing relatively slow on a full-sized keyboard, compared to the iPhone. Last I remembered, I could not use more than two fingers at once on that tiny screen. I'd be interested in how long it takes the average slashdotter to type his example text.
    • Re:Slow QWERTY typer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DangerFace (1315417) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:38AM (#30858654) Journal
      That's the problem with this sort of comparison - it's completely subjective. Until pretty recently I simply had no reason to use pen and paper, but used a keyboard all the time, so my typing speed was respectable but my writing speed was atrocious. However, I have recently forced myself to rediscover the wonders of writing by hand, and I know I could write with pen and paper faster than plenty of people can type. Professional typists could have typed his example text in, what, a little over a minute? People who need to keep notes professionally, PAs or scribes or whatever, could probably get it written in about the same time. I think keyboards are logically bound to be slightly faster, but if you think pen and paper is slow you've never seen my girlfriend write in a hurry. Of course, a keyboard tends to produce fairly readable text, but that's a different (but related) issue...
      • by woozlewuzzle (532172) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:41AM (#30858680)

        The other thing about handwriting is that you can do it one handed at decent speed. If you have one hand holding a clipboard, notepad, tablet, etc, you need good text input with one hand. If you only ever write where you can use 2 hands, such as at your desk, a keyboard (ie PC or laptop) is probably best.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          ...you need good text input with one hand.

          A straightline so obvious... Dude, this is /. You know the majority of readers here know all about one-handed typing.

        • by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday January 22, 2010 @01:00PM (#30860928)
          As well writing is more flexible. You can add symbols, underline things and circle things. You can stick in a therefore symbol, have arrows pointing to parts. Italicize. Make up your own symbols. Super efficient shorthand. Math input. Diagrams. You may not need all of that but if you need any of it your speed will cut horribly on a phone...

          All of this makes handwriting much more efficient for note taking.
          • Additionally if you don't live near the equator you can write outside during the winter. Typing on a phone sucks since you can't wear gloves.

            Also a note about the hands... though you can write one handed you need the other hand to hold the pad or be sitting down. QWERTY takes two hands (phones) and you often need to be sitting (laptops/pcs). Touch screens are one hand only! Which is an advantage. (My phone has a pullout keyboard and a touchscreen, i type much faster in qwerty but i resort to the screen on
      • by shashark (836922) *

        you've never seen my girlfriend write in a hurry. ..

        Have you ?

      • Indeed. My mom works as an Administrative Assistant and has been doing so for more than 15 years now. She can write in shorthand faster than I can type (and I've written a novel and work on my computer extensively). She can't beat her own typing speed, that's like trying to break the sound barrier, but she certainly outdoes most other folk's typing speeds. Incidentally I can text a helluva lot faster than her. That's my one source of communication pride...well, that and smoke signals.
        • She can write in shorthand faster than I can type

          Yes, shorthand is very useful. I can write shorthand about as quickly as I can type. The advantage of shorthand over typing is that you can do it with low-tech implements (pen and paper). The disadvantage is that, for me at least, it's harder to read. Shorthand speeds up the writing (input) speed at the expense of slowing down the reading (output) speed, where input and output are from the point of view of the piece of paper as a storage medium.

          So if some

      • "Professional typists could have typed his example text in, what, a little over a minute?"

        Well. I had to go back and correct myself at least once, but I was maxing out at about my top speed trying his text.

        1222 characters in 2:35 ~ 95wpm personally.

        Sounds like you're suggesting a professional could manage 244wpm.
        I'm a bit skeptical.

        • Oh, and yes, 221 words, but I was using 1222 / 5. I'm pretty sure 5 chars is considered a "word".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      75 or so wpm isn't a world record or anything, but it's probably quite a bit faster than the average person can type, and very respectable.

      His iPhone speed of 40 wpm is pretty fantastic, but the minimal finger movement and not needing to hit the keys hard can make up for the extra fingers you get to use on a full size keyboard. I'm even more impressed by his Treo speed.

    • Where's shorthand?! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cc1984_ (1096355)

      Yes, I know it's a dying art, but he put speeds up for the Palm Graffiti didn't he?!

      I'm currently learning Teeline shorthand which I'm told gets speeds of around 120 words per minutes if you know what you're doing. Pitman on the other hand can reach a paper burning 300 words per minute, although you trade your sanity in for learning that.

      Would completely change the results and put pen and paper up top.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      I'm actually not too bad with the iPhone as far as typing goes. With my oversized hands and especially thumbs, I do tend to make a few mistakes here and there. Hitting the shift vs 'a' and space vs 'n' or 'm' are the biggest issues. Add in the word replacement the iPhone does for errors which fixes most of the worst mistakes but does replace non-standard gaming words with more common words and I can fly along.

      The worst problem with the iPhone right now is replying to forum posts. You can't scroll within a t

    • As someone who regularly types over 80wpm, I had the same feeling.

      That said, shorthand (as others have mentioned) and its possibilities in gesture-based input on touch screen devices could be much faster than other forms of handwriting shown as well.

      • To be a good metric it needs to compare people who have never used the input device before and people who have used it for a long time, so you will get a range of speeds. Back when I was around 12, I had a Psion Series 3. I could type about as fast on it as I could on a real keyboard. On the Psion, I used two thumbs, on a real keyboard I used two fingers. Now I touch type and I'm much faster than I used to be on a desktop keyboard, while I'm probably about the same speed with the Psion (maybe a bit slow

    • I used to be a reasonably fast typer when I was in school, but less so these days because I don't type continuous text like that very often. Nearly everything I type is either a short message to a friend or bottlenecked by my thought processes. I just tried it out and I came in at about 2:45 typing at typical speed for me. If I tried to go fast, I could maybe shave up to 15 seconds off that, but that's still probably nothing spectacular.

      I imagine I'm faster than a random non-computer person, but younger

  • a true geek ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lazy Jones (8403) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:20AM (#30858554) Homepage Journal
    ... would have compared more than those few mainstream input methods. Particularly interesting: Dvorak [nmt.edu] keyboards and Tikinotes, Swype [youtube.com] and MessageEase [youtube.com] for the iPhone.
    • by adolf (21054)

      Thanks for the tip. I just installed a Swype beta on my Droid (not in the marketplace; Google it), and it's an interesting thing that seems to work very well with every mostly common word that I tried, and at least initially, seems quite fast.

      (It did, unsurprisingly, fall on its face when I tried to enter "antidisestablishmenterianism," however.)

    • I type Dvorak exclusively; I never learned qwerty. I was advised to take up dvorak becaues of a wrist injury I had at the time. I love it, it types very easily and I can't even imagine typing on that abomination of a qwerty keyboard. It's offensive. Then again, I learned on Dvorak to start with and I understand that the learning curve would keep people from switching to it. But the increase in efficiency is obvious. I can tell just by looking at people's hands. My friend types at least as fast as I can, pro
      • Should take anyone who's concious about two or three weeks to smith to Dvorak and become comfortable.
        • Hehe, and there you can see that i use it, as W is next to M - so a typo for switch can be swith or smith....
          • You get different typos on Dvorak I've noticed. Most of the world chronically misspells "the" as "teh". I don't have any trouble with that one, but I often misspell "com" as "cmo".

            Really the two layouts aren't as different as people make them out to be; they actually have a lot in common. "M" and "A" are in the same place.~
        • by bdcrazy (817679)

          And then spend the rest of their life in frustration when every other computer they touch doesn't work right or having to reconfigure them back and forth if that is even possible.

          • It's possible, and it's very easy on any modern operating system.

            Any Unix I've ever been on takes "setxkbmap dvorak" and I'm rockin.

            Windows XP (last windows I used) is about 4 mouse clicks "control panel-regional-add layout..dvorak is the first one on the list. Default behavior allows you to easily toggle between them with a keycombo, but always defaults to the default layout on boot or when opening new programs.

            I've been going to make a microcontroller-controlled hardware translator box, but haven't got ar
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        I used to, but I gave it up when I got a job in IT and found myself using 20-30 different computers during the course of the day, with only my own office computer being set to Dvorak still. In that situation, you're just getting yourself confused-- you always end up typing gibberish for the first minute! So I switched back to Qwerty.

        I think you'll find that most of the benefit of Dvorak isn't the fact that the layout is different, but that it's been re-learned *correctly*. Most people who have problems, or

    • by dynamo (6127)

      I've been using Dvorak for 10 years now, and would never go back. It's SO much easier on the fingers and faster as well. This comparison is a joke without Dvorak.

    • by hardaker (32597)
      Don't forget morse code! Somewhere on youtube is the video of the morse code experts beating the world record holder for text messaging speed.
      • Don't forget morse code! Somewhere on youtube is the video of the morse code experts beating the world record holder for text messaging speed.

        The problem with Morse code is that it's ephemeral--it creates no hard copy so you can only send as fast as your recipient can copy. It doesn't do much good if you can send at 60 WPM if the person on the end can only copy 20 WPM. And, yes, I know there are computer programs that can translate Morse (I have several, in fact) but they don't really work all that accurately on hand-sent code.

        73
        KJ6BSO

        • by hardaker (32597)
          well, then you just need two keys on your device. '.' and '-'. Then you can send morse code, your device can interpret it and then SMS the real text to your friends who aren't, um, up to 60 wpm. Your clueful friends that can at least do 20wpm can have their device recode it back to morse so they can play it to them while they're driving! WS6Z
    • Another Dvorak typist here. Use it since a few years. Was touch typing QUERTY before, but long forget that one. Never regretted my decision, definitely an improvement. Besides it's obvious advantages, it's also useful to keep other people off your systems and keep an aura of mystery. :) And all modern platforms support it, so it's not really a limiting factor, at least not for application developers.

      Ps: I don't care what others think, everyone has to make their own decisions. Don't want to convince anyone,

  • by millia (35740) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:20AM (#30858556) Homepage

    I went to jury duty the other day, and the steno reporter... wasn't really using a steno machine. She was annotating the taping by speaking the non-verbal events into a little mouth-shield thingie.
    So verbal dictation is possible- you'll just like more of a geek.

    • by cthugha (185672) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:36AM (#30858642)
      It's more likely that the audio was being uploaded to a centralised typing pool to be transcribed and that the finished transcript would itself be made available electronically. I'd be surprised if any jurisdiction was ready to trust the recording of its proceedings to voice recognition software.
      • by millia (35740)

        I have no idea if they're transcribing as you say; you're probably right. I do know that a) they were recording with a pc there and b) she was using the mouth-hood to record when people nodded, etc. They have this big ol' MOTU firewire box to take input from all the microphones. I didn't actually get a chance to see the software.

        10 years ago, they used digital tape in this same courtroom. 20 years ago, they had a steno machine.

        • by cthugha (185672)

          But the mouth-hood is new and wasn't present in the digital tape era? That's odd, although it could be that there's been an unrelated change in the relevant rules for recording trials and evidence that say that body language and other non-verbal communication now has to be recorded in case it's of interest to an appellate court.

          Of course, I've no idea which court you've done jury duty in and probably wouldn't be familiar with its practice and procedure anyway. I've just worked in courts that use a system si

          • by millia (35740)

            I don't recall there being the mouth shield before. It might have been there. It probably was, and I just wasn't thinking of applications for cubicle-worker dictation then.

            Regardless, you couldn't hear her speaking into it, and she was definitely recording events. When the judge would ask if anybody knew the defendant, and none of the jurors responded, she was entering that fact; or at least, you could see that she was saying something.

            This was a city-level court in Georgia, dealing with low-level criminal

      • by rickb928 (945187)

        I serviced court-reporting systems in the 70s, both Stenograph (an independent technician, and the Stenograph Corp hated me and my kind) and tape recorders. Even then, some steno reporters started using tape and shielded mics to supplement their transcription, and most tapes were not immediately transcribed if there was no need for a written record. Of course, there was a need for transcripts for most cases, and so the transcription services worked long hours overnight to git 'r done.

        And often the first r

  • by jonaskoelker (922170) <.jonaskoelker. .at. .gnu.org.> on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:24AM (#30858570) Homepage

    It's not what you'd call a rich data set, and of course the Qwerty keyboard comes up trumps

    I of course have to mention the Dvorak layout. I encourage you to try it. Your hands might thank you (and fall in love), and if not you can always go back rather easily. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard [wikipedia.org]

    Also, for some experimental geekery, trying to find out whether it's all the shit it's made out to be, see http://klausler.com/evolved.html [klausler.com]

    That's it. Thank you for listening. My hands thank me for listening way back when, too ;)

    • by 93,000 (150453)

      Just looked at the wiki page and 'air typed' a few sentences based on the diagram. Wow. It's amazing how much is 'right there' for you in home row (of course, I suppose that's the point).

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I tried 'air-typing' the sentence, "I am in love with a hot girl," and found that both "love" and "girl" require significant reaches from the home-row position. Typing about "deuterium" or "ubuntu," however, becomes easier and more comfortable.

        This keyboard layout: I do not like its psychological ramifications.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:10AM (#30858876)
      I tried a Dvorak keyboard once, but I hated having to take my hand away from the mouse to press W and S when gaming. Much like Linux, I don't think it's ready for the mainstream yet...
  • by stokessd (89903) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:27AM (#30858590) Homepage

    I used to be lightning fast with the original graffiti, very close to my speed on the iPhone. But Palm went and changed it (I know legal reasons etc) and it got slow and sucky. The best part of graffiti was that you could take notes without looking at the device. I would think the original graffiti would be much faster than it is on that table, or they got a newbie to do the graffiti writing.

    The iPhone keyboard works amazingly well. I saw the preview demo of the phone in 2007and I thought that soft keyboard was full of fail (30+ touch points in the size of two postage stamps-c'mon), but there's enough heuristics behind it that it actually works really well. I'm way faster on the iPhone keyboard than I am on a crackberry keyboard.

    Sheldon

    • Graffiti was awesome! There were multiple ways to make some letters but all letters could be made with a single stroke. It was really fast. Graffiti 2 was a huge step backwards. I ended up copying Graffiti 1 files from my Handspring Visor onto my Palm TX to replace Graffiti 2 (a trick I learned about here on Slashdot, I think).

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      I just snarfed a used X41 Tablet, and if I could tesch it Graffiti, it would be perfect.

      But pen tablets have some advantages over touch screens. You can rest your hand on the screen and not type garbage or ruin a drawing. The pen is natural - writing with your finger less so, but learnable. The haptics are much better than touch screen keyboards.

      Of course, the pen gets chewed up by your dog, or yourself...

  • ... that doesn't move.

    A touchpad is probably the dumbest design you can think of, for anything except the most coarse-grained "point and shoot". Imagine trying to use photoshop on a touch screen. All the areas you want to select are automatically obscured by the very finger(s) that are doing the selecting. How stoooopid is that? Obviously the people who thought it was a good idea either took us all for fools, or reckoned we'd evolve transparent fingers in a year or two.

    • by Heian-794 (834234)

      All the areas you want to select are automatically obscured by the very finger(s) that are doing the selecting. How stoooopid is that?

      Stupid indeed, but one way to make it slightly easier is to have iconswhose visible parts are mainly where your finger isn't.

      For example, my pointer-arrow cursor assumes that the user is right-handed, so it points up and to the left, with the hot spot in the upper left corner, as if the arrow were being wielded by a right hand.

      I never thought I'd say anything good abo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sslayer (968948)

      Imagine trying to use photoshop on a touch screen. All the areas you want to select are automatically obscured by the very finger(s) that are doing the selecting. How stoooopid is that?

      That's the very thing I really HATE about capacitive touch-screens. All this blah blah blah about how much precision it has. What the heck do I mind its precision when I don't know where I've put my finger, since I cannot see what's behind it? Not to speak of the problems using a screen of these when you're wearing gloves and such.

      This things are really stupid. I can get far more accuracy in my old Palm TX since I can use a stylus as thin as I want, my fingernail or just the reverse side of the BIC pen I

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by maxume (22995)

        So track down a stylus that works with capacitive screens (they do exist).

      • Indeed. I have the 5800, which has a virtual keyboard so would also come out second place. But as well as the option for touch, it also comes with a stylus, which I find even quicker (plus you can use the mini virtual keyboard, which lets you still see most of the rest of the screen). It's a shame he didn't do that - but sadly it seems he, like most the media, only cares about comparing the almighty Iphone.

        Finger touch is useful, but I find it odd that the stylus has seemingly gone so out of fashion. And re

        • I still find myself trying to pull out the (non existent) stylus on my iPhone. Too many years of using Palm stuff (RIP).
    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:56AM (#30858772)

      If you want to use Photoshop, buy yourself a stylus.

      On the other hand, perhaps you've seen artists doing charcoal sketches? You know, where they use that giant stick of charcoal (that obscures where they're working), and then they smudge it with, gasp, their fingers?

      The finger isn't great for everything, but it certainly works fine for a lot of tasks.

    • All the areas you want to select are automatically obscured by the very finger(s) that are doing the selecting. How stoooopid is that?

      It makes you wonder how Michaelangelo managed to paint so well, what with his brush covering up the painting all the time...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Marcika (1003625)

        All the areas you want to select are automatically obscured by the very finger(s) that are doing the selecting. How stoooopid is that?

        It makes you wonder how Michaelangelo managed to paint so well, what with his brush covering up the painting all the time...

        Well, he used a stylus when needed (a fine-tipped paintbrush). There might be a reason why the most famous artworks aren't fingerpainted...

  • virtual keyboard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:46AM (#30858696) Journal
    A comment on one of the input methods the MacWorld article touched on: an on-screen virtual keyboard. Unless you have some tactile response, an on-screen virtual keyboard almost requires you to look at it to see what you are typing. However - and this is a point that the article author may not have fully grasped - being that it is a tablet and not a laptop, you're already going to be looking at the keyboard, because you are looking at the screen, because that's the usually the place you're looking at on a tablet computer.

    This doesn't meant that I relish the notion of doing much writing on any tablet computer with a virtual keyboard. But, it isn't as bad as, say, a laptop with a touchscreen top and bottom.
  • by adamgolding (871654) on Friday January 22, 2010 @09:49AM (#30858724)

    This depends on the strings: you can handwrite many mathematical expressions more quickly than you can type them in most setups. This is especially true for things with a lot of super/sub scripts. It's *especially* true for symbols not in the character sets available to you.

    Also, sometimes the same *content* can be recorded more quickly as handwritten math/logic than as typed strings.

    Sometimes handwriting is faster, sometimes typing is faster.

    Therefore, the fastest setup is one where you can switch between handwriting and typing seamlessly, such as on a tablet PC on some sort of stand situated like an easel with an external keyboard at elbow height, or at a desktop with a keyboard and graphics tabletin which case, for the monitor position, you don't have to compromise between what's good for your hands/arms and what's good for your eyes/neck/back.

    • It depends on language too. Japanese input on most phones and on the iPhone is predictive, so it suggests the next word or particle based on grammatical rules and your own typing history.

    • by tool462 (677306)

      Indeed. Back in College/Grad school I would type up all my labs, but leave an inch or so gap so I could hand-write the equations in after I printed it out. It was a hell of a lot better than that equation editor built into Word...

  • A while ago, I saw a keyboard that was more projector/sensor than physical keyboard. The projector would idsplay a keyboard on a flat(hopefully) surface, and then you would type by pressing the "keys" (key displayed on flat surface). So, instead of having to carry around a full keyboard, you would just need the projector/sensor. I would probably go with this as the "I need something to be able to type my novel on" type of device, but also have the touch screen to use for less demanding typing jobs, such a
  • I'm a firm believer that all tablets and smart phones need some kind of a pullout keyboard. Would it really be that hard to incorporate a pull-out keyboard with the most basic keys (numbers, letters, shift, space...)? It could even have smaller keys than a real keyboard and be practical. I don't want to be cornered into using a touch screen or stylus for extensive note taking and such.

  • For me, text entry isn't that important a feature for a tablet; the mobile nature of the device makes it an unlikely choice of platform to generate documents of any length or complexity. Rather, the benefit of a tablet is the ability to consume or peruse data wherever I want.

    To that end, I'm more interested in tools for tagging, noting up and generally scribbling on content generated elsewhere. Right now, I'll print drafts of documents just so I can have the freedom of leaning back in my chair or getting up

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      The iPhone's screen can already do this - you just need a stylus that works with a capacitive screen. I would imagine that any large tablet is going to have something included with it that allows you to use your fingers or something more precise.

  • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:10AM (#30858882)
    I have a Palm Treo 755p which has a full QWERTY keypad on it. The buttons are tiny but they are shaped just right for quick entry. My friends with iPhones agree that the real keypad on my phone is certainly quicker than typing on their touch screens. With a bit more practice, I bet the author would agree.
  • by VShael (62735) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:10AM (#30858888) Journal

    I've had the "pleasure" of using this for about a year now. It's a terrible interface.
    It takes an appreciable amount of time for each keypress to be acknowledged by the system.
    And if you try to type quickly, without waiting for the device to catch up, you'll very soon be touch typing and hoping like hell you haven't made a mistake or run out the memory buffer.
    And god help you if haven't disabled to the autocorrect feature, which has suggested some truly astonishing word replacements in the last 12 months.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jo_ham (604554)

      The autocorrect feature is what makes it effective to use at speed - I'm not surprised you hate it if you have this feature turned off.

      It's certainly not an ideal system, but it's not bad for an on screen keyboard. I have seen some of the crazy words it suggests for predictive input (it adds to that selection as you type more and more, so it learns your most common writing style over time - it does get better but often still throws up some real doozies). The keyboard assumes you will make mistakes due to th

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        You're missing the primary point, which is that it can't keep up with you if you type quickly. Maybe some iPhones are quicker than mine, I dunno-- I especially see the problem on web forms.

        If you type with any decent speed, your input quickly gets ahead of:
        1) The visual feedback of the button press (i.e. the icon for the key enlarging)
        2) The auto-correct, meaning that you'll frequently gets words auto-corrected wrong (this is probably why he turned off auto-correct)

        If the damned phone would keep up, then it

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Perhaps it is mainly in the web forms where it really slows down, but I tend not to use it for that - in the SMS interface and the facebook app it is very responsive.

          It would be nice to be able to go back and correct the autocorrect if it picks the wrong word if you are going too fast - a double tap or something that could pop up a list of options, or the ability to just type the word you meant and replace it without having to delete.

          As far as I know, you can't "officially" add words to the database - it ju

          • by Blakey Rat (99501)

            I don't type in web forms very much with it at all, so I am not seeing the super slowdown - I do notice that the phone generally struggles with performance in the web browser, so I guess it is not surprising and would make the keyboard a pain to use.

            The slow-downs in the browser I can live with, it's the constant crashes I can't.

    • He should have tried the Nokia E63 - it has a much better keyboard than the iPhone or Palm Treo
  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:12AM (#30858912) Homepage

    The tests were done using a 221 word long paragraph in English. How fast would any of these methods be at entering something like the Schrödinger Equation [wolfram.com]? Sure, you could type "i\hbar\frac{\partial\psi}{\partial t} = \frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\nabla^2\psi + V(\mathbf{r})\psi" on a keyboard just about as easily as "I have enough faith in my fellow creatures in Great Britain", but realizing that you've made a mistake and fixing it would be difficult.

    Some things are easier with a keyboard and some things that are just easier to do with a pen and paper, be they real or virtual.

  • by YourExperiment (1081089) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:14AM (#30858932)

    the iPhone virtual keyboard came in a surprisingly close second... This probably matches most people's experience

    Not at all. There is no way the iPhone keyboard can possibly be as fast to use as a physical qwerty keypad. I can only imagine that there's something sub-optimal about the Treo keyboard (having never tried it myself). Alternatively, perhaps the author hasn't used his Treo for a while, whereas he's well-practised on the iPhone at the moment.

    Don't get me wrong, I think virtual keyboards on touch screens are a wonderful innovation, and I personally would never buy a device with a physical keyboard, due to the extra bulk and weight it engenders in the device. At the end of the day, I read stuff on my phone a lot more often than I enter data, so I want the device optimised for viewing and portability rather than speed of text entry.

    But that doesn't change the fact that a tactile keyboard is quicker than a virtual one. Perhaps the "swipe" style virtual keyboards that are now appearing will turn this around.

    • by netsavior (627338)
      From best to worst, phones I have had for more than 4 months, used daily to type way too much text

      I had a Sidekick 1 (color) when they first came out (2002 or 2003) The keyboard is the fastest I have used in a small formfactor, the later versions they screwed up everything that was right in favor of making it thinner (the keyboard is now more "set in" so your thumbs are down in a canyon when typing, so it is MUCH slower. This device had a wide keyboard, rubber keys (aka non-slip) with plenty of travel,
  • Sometimes I wonder how much we have forgotten. The advantage of a good computer keyboard is that a secretary, and even a programmer, should be able to touch type. They can type a long passage of text, without looking at the keys. If you can do this, your typing speed is way faster than someone that has to look at notes, and then look back at the keyboard.

    Further, the advantage of handwriting was that you could write far faster than you could type. That was the whole point of script and shorthand. With

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Today, no one teaches shorthand, and many schools omit cursive script.

      That's because it's been mechanized as well, stenography machines do a much better and quicker job of this than stenographers using shorthand. Alternatively, a lot of applications now simply record the audio and transcribe it later, which much fewer instances of "could you repeat that please".

      Your post sums to: obsolete skills are obsolete.

  • I'm sorry, but is the submitter fscking insane? I rely heavily on handwritten notes all the time. So does every college student and scientist that I know. Note that I'm talking about extremely tech-savvy people here, who often DO own an iPhone... but they are fundamentally useless for taking notes.

    Taking notes, of course, is not the only writing one does, but it's a pretty important thing. Writing serves a a communication medium to others, but equally serves as expansion of short- and long-term memory for ourselves. I have yet to meet any GUI interface that has the flexibility of a pad of paper:

    - Effortless data entry.
    - Figures, mathematics or other non-ASCII input are faster than any other technique (and likely to remain so)
    - No learning curve (for people past 6th grade)
    - Bookmarking, fast page finding.
    - No limit to page-space viewable at one time
      -Needs no recharging, syncing
    - Not a target for theft
    - Light and comfortable in the hand
    - Cheap, reliable components
    - Easily backed up by photocopier or scanner

    The only downside, for me, is it's a little slow for pure-text entry, and it's sometimes hard to read by own sloppy writing. But that's just user skill, not the fault of the technology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nerdfest (867930)
      The downside for me is a pretty much complete lack of searchability. I find there's little point of writing something down on apper again, as odds are, I'll never be able to find it again.
      • Seriously? Annotating the edges of pages isn't that hard, and using separate pages for different concepts, etc. isn't either.

        • Agg
          Seriously? Keep your notes in a book or some other time-ordered form. Pretty fast to flip through, find things before and after the stuff in question. Basic indexing (putting a two-letter abbreviation at the top of each page by topic) makes it even easier.

          The human eye is remarkably good at picking out visual subject material. If I've read a pure-text book, I can usually flip to a section I remember faster than using the index. Pure computer-based searches are useful mainly in contexts where you _hav

      • by xigxag (167441)

        Not true.

        http://www.livescribe.com/ [livescribe.com]

    • by nlawalker (804108)

      I definitely understand the need for handwritten notes when drawings or mathematics input is required, but typing in an app like OneNote does offer many advantages:

      -First and foremost, for standard text, typing. I type around 100 wpm, and even my slow handwriting is chickenscratch. Handwriting being "a little slow" is a massive understatement for anyone who can touch-type.
      -Model is based on a set of notebooks: easy to organize how you like.
      -Supports an invisible sharing/versioning system: put a notebook on

    • Ability to read it later.

  • Palm Graffiti (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:21AM (#30859030)

    I'm surprised that Palm Graffiti came in last place, especially by that big of a margin. I used a Palm Pilot extensively for several years, and I could "write" on my Palm Pilot much faster than I could write on pen and paper.

    It took a few weeks to get used to it, but after you learned Graffiti well enough, you could actually "write" pretty fast with it. The test behind TFA apparently used a novice to test Palm's Graffiti. A Palm Pilot veteran would have been able to write in Graffiti at speeds nearer to actual writing, and maybe faster.

    • Unfortunately it seems that most every test was at novice level, or at least "rusty". He mentioned getting a little practice but that is not the same as using the device and its input method regularily. He was most used to the iPhone for mobile input, it is no surprise it came in second to the full-sized keyboard.

      I would like to see him repeat the test after using a device exclusively, or get a real regular user of one to do it for him.

  • "Everyone's favorite tablet"? Really?

    I think a more accurate description would have been "the tablet that as far as 90% of the population is concerned is only a rumor of something will end up being more expensive than I can afford anyways, so they really haven't bothered to care."

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Viagra? ;)

      OK I know it's not the best selling, but it's a favourite in many other ways (jokes, spam etc)...
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      I see sarcasm escapes you. That is exactly what that three word phrase means in this context.

  • 68 WPM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MortenMW (968289) on Friday January 22, 2010 @10:42AM (#30859244)
    He wrote at 65 words per minute on the QWERTY keyboard. IMHO that is quite slow, someone who known touch would easily beat the iPhone.
  • I really want to know how much this changes on a per person basis...

    At work, I use a tablet PC exclusively. Now, I'm able to dock the (once pretty nice, but now piece of shit, thanks to dating hardware and loads of paranoid IT apps monitoring every single thing we do) thing, but the majority of my input on it is handwriting. Now, the fact that I get to use a point and click interface for it does alter it. However, I have to catch a lot of information in one paragraph, and the goal is to complete that and al

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