Best Tablet for Handwriting Recognition?

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by niko5298, Feb 5, 2012.

  1. niko5298

    niko5298 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I'm at a loss. I bought a Sony tablet PC over the weekend and although I like the Android application market, I don't really care for the actual OS. Anyway, the main reason I bought it is because I was told I could download an application that would let me use it to handwrite on it and it would convert in to text for me. The only applications I could find, give me a small box to write in and the stylus doesn't work with it all that great. It doesn't recognize half of what I'm writing and it gets frustrating. I want a tablet and a program where I can write full-length documents and THEN convert it to text. Any ideas?
     
  2. Agent 9

    Agent 9 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Give up on that idea. Even a good and very powerful Tablet PC with a Wacom Active Digitizer pen, running Windows 7 or 8, and even with One Note it is a so-so conversion from handwriting to text (though that is the pinnacle of handwriting to text, its not there yet; the software simply isn't to that point, and there is really just about no development on that front).


    If instead you are looking to replace a paper notebook by keeping 'digital ink' as well as recorded audio, documents, and more all in one device then a Wacom equipped Tablet PC with a Core 2 Duo or better CPU with MS One Note is really all you would need; the ballpark figure is $350-500 for most Core 2 Duo models used on ebay is typical; sometimes you can get lucky with an auction and get one for less.

    Taking notes in One Note would look like this [basically endless sheets of paper, and all your notebooks all in on place, and easy to backup, print out, copy and paste, use tons of different pens/ markers, and so on]:
    [​IMG]
    One Note does handwriting conversion of large chunks of text, but it is just Window's handwriting recognition, and its spotty (not what you'd want to use to do long things as you will have to go back and re-edit it all to make it make sense)
     
  3. pmatulew

    pmatulew Scribbler - Standard Member

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    What he said.

    Any Wacom equipped windows tablet running Win7 will have "as good as it gets" handwriting conversion capabilities. The Windows Tablet Input Panel is the same sort of idea as Android, with a box you write in and then it converts, gives you editing options and then inserts the text to your active window.

    Enter a paragraph and then convert? Possible. The writing box extends as you write, but the editing after the fact is tedious. Forget it. The handwriting conversion in Windows works better a sentence or two at a time and then make corrections. There is a built in handwriting learning function where you copy about 40 pages of text and it is supposed to help the system better learn and recognize your style of writing.

    Onenote and Journal do have the capability to select a block of handwritten notes and then convert after the fact but the editing would be torturous.

    There is a another program called RitePen that allows you to write anywhere on the screen. It has it's own unique editing functions plus some other bells and whistles.

    Depending on your work flow you may also want to look in to Dragon Naturally Speaking. It works pretty well at converting dictation to text. Not tablet specific though. The software can be installed on any decent machine with a microphone.
     
  4. Hattori Hanzo

    Hattori Hanzo Scribbler - Standard Member

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    @ Agent9

    You make handwriting to text appear worse than it is. It actually works quite well if you have halfway distinguishable letters and if you take the time to train it.
    That's for normal text, though, not text with five different currency symbols and everything the number row produces with shift pressed.


    @ pmatulew
    For text to speech, it's crucial to have a good microphone, not just any.
     
  5. alex.db

    alex.db Pen Pal - Newbie

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    As has been said, forgot about handwriting recognition unless all you write is capitalized block letters. Even then, it won't be 100% and you'll be constantly fighting it. MS has the best handwriting recognition but it's just not up to standard yet.
     
  6. pmatulew

    pmatulew Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Block letters, sure if you can be consistent. Truth be told I think it actually likes flowing cursive handwriting better. Easier for it to connect letters in to words and word groups.

    My terrible handwriting is upper case/lower case block print with very small inconsistent spacing and I get all sorts of interesting conversions.

    Even worse is entering short alphanumeric (not dictionary word) entries in to spreadhseet fields. The convertor has a heck of a time guessing what I meant. It should be noted that you can create personalized dictionaries so you can enter oddball words specific to your profession and have it look there first.
     
  7. dceggert

    dceggert Moving 'up' from iPAQ Senior Member

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    Okay, .02 from a guy who writes everything.... including this:

    1. Windows handwriting recognition does not like block letters at all. Cursive is what it is looking for, and that is irritating for a guy trained in many hours of drafting class with a pencil and velum (we will not talk of how long ago that was).
    2. Handwriting recognition in Windows is excellent; just make sure you get an 'active digitizer' and you will be okay. Some have 'touch screens' only and the iPad type pen is horrible.
    3. OneNote is an unbelievable program. You can write notes in the "TIP", the little box that converts as you write, or just plain handwriting on the screen. You can then decide to convert it or not. But here is the best part; it doesn't matter. Why? OneNote knows what you wrote and you can search and it finds it.

    Meeting notes, lecture notes, personal notes, etc. all become searchable later right in your own handwriting. OneNote can also read the text from photos.

    If you are out for note taking there is no better system than OneNote and an active digitizer.
     
  8. jnjroach

    jnjroach Surface MVP Super Moderator

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    Microsoft based its handwriting recognition engine on software designed to recognize the handwriting of doctors. So cursive seems to be the most accurate.
     
  9. alex.db

    alex.db Pen Pal - Newbie

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    hmmmmm, admittedly I just sort of assumed it would pick up block letters better because they are easier to read. This stuff about cursive writing is good to know. All i know is that when I use onenote, it struggles to convert my handwriting to text. It does an okay-ish job when i need to search for things, but more often than not it's off the mark. My handwriting is atrocious though so maybe that has something to do with it :)
     
  10. Hattori Hanzo

    Hattori Hanzo Scribbler - Standard Member

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    MS' handwriting recognition indeed deals better with cursive handwriting. The problem I have with that is that nobody except the software can reliably read my cursive handwriting, including myself :D

    And my experience with block letters is indeed very good. The only thing where OneNote, which uses the same engine as the TIP, tends be off is spacing. If you get used to make them big enough between words it's damn reliable, though.

    By my experience the technology is mature and after training the software properly the recognition rate is extremely high. If I compare this to my experience with voice recognition, it's easily a decade ahead in terms of reliability and usability. With my crude block letter handwriting, that is.

    But well, as we see here, your mileage may vary indeed.
     
  11. N11

    N11 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    MS's HWR was based on Calligrapher, which was developed by Stepan Pachikov to recognize children's Cyrillic handwriting. It was first used commercially in Apple's Newton Messagepad. Apple later developed another HWR, Rosetta, which was used in the final, two iterations of the Messagepad. The Messagepad was discontinued in 1998.

    The Messagepad can transcribe handwritten notes both on the fly or at a later date. Handwritten words are treated until they are transcribed as discrete objects, which can be copied, moved, resized, and cut up within a document.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  12. KLF

    KLF Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    That pretty much equals average doctor's handwriting I think.

    Win7 recognition works pretty well with my handwriting unless I'm going to show someone how well it works. Then it will not do anything I want :D
     
  13. Seketh

    Seketh Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    My handwriting is close to doctor's handwriting, so you can imagine how poor Windows recognition is for me.

    However, using handwriting personalization, which is like training Windows, improves the recognition a lot for me:

    Handwriting personalization on a Tablet PC
     
  14. Jmirko

    Jmirko Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I was also looking for a tablet with handwriting recognition about a year ago, but since I couldn't find anything that really met my needs, I settled for an ASUS EeeNote EA-800. It's a digital notepad with an 8-inch, monochrome, non-backlit LCD screen that includes a Wacom digitiser. The pen input is excellent - in fact, some artists use it for drawing. It does not recognise handwriting, but rather stores it as a picture. However, this turned out to be less of a problem than I had originally thought, because I don't need to share the notes, but only to find them later. The EeeNote has some very useful features for this:
    - It allows you to type the title of the notes with the virtual keyboard, and the titles are fully searchable
    - You can add any number of "tags" to a note, which you can use as filters
    - You can upload your notes to Evernote via wifi using the built-in client. Evernote can search your titles and tags too, but - if you have decent handwriting - it can also search the contents, similar to OneNote. However, it will not transform the handwriting to text.
    - You can sort the notes by title or by date (asc and desc)
    In addition, the EeeNote can record audio for capturing lectures and meetings, and even has a camera so you can snap the blackboard/flipchart/powerpoint slide and paste the image into your notes.
    You can also read e-books on it (supports pdf and epub, among others), although the screen is not as nice as e-ink. It also has a rudimentary web browser, but it's nothing to write home about.
    The battery lasts for about a week. The software is extremely stable and well-designed for note-taking.
    The EeeNote is currently available on Ebay from several sellers, starting at USD 240 (brand new and includes international shipping). This makes it the cheapest option for quality handwriting, so it may be a good choice until a more versatile alternative emerges.
     
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