Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 19:04 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless "Reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, it can be argued the creative catalyst for the iPad was not Jobs himself, nor Apple design wizard Jony Ive, but instead some Microsoft engineer who talked too much at parties. At least that's how Steve Jobs told it from 2002. 'But he was doing the device all wrong. It had a stylus. As soon as you have a stylus, you're dead. This dinner was like the tenth time he talked to me about it, and I was so sick of it that I came home and said, "Fuck it, let's show him what a tablet can really be".' Apocryphal dinner story or not, Apple did indeed show Microsoft how tablets are done, and attempted to bury the stylus in doing so. However, a decade later and just after the launch of the new iPad, it turns out the stylus isn't dead at all. In fact, it's getting better."
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Comment by lucas_maximus
by lucas_maximus on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 20:05 UTC
lucas_maximus
Member since:
2009-08-18

After working half a decade with a stylus and touchpad (back office systems) ... I am glad they are gone. Lose the stylus and you are prodding the machine with your finger nail ... not good.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by lucas_maximus
by Fergy on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 20:21 UTC in reply to "Comment by lucas_maximus"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

After working half a decade with a stylus and touchpad (back office systems) ... I am glad they are gone. Lose the stylus and you are prodding the machine with your finger nail ... not good.

I have the same problem with ballpoint pens. Lose it and you are prodding the paper with your finger nail ...not good.

Reply Score: 12

RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by bassbeast on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 20:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by lucas_maximus"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Except with the pen you can walk into virtually ANY store and have another one in moments but because the morons didn't standardize on a size and design of stylus good luck finding a replacement if you lose yours.

Lets face it, styluses or styli or whatever should be as standard and common as AAA batteries. they should ALL use a single size and form and basic design so i can walk into any store and walk out with a stylus that fits my device.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by Fergy on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 21:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

they should ALL use a single size and form and basic design so i can walk into any store

Like phone batteries and chargers? Or like monitor cables? Memory cards?

Reply Score: 6

RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by arpan on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 23:14 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
arpan Member since:
2006-07-30

Except that phone batteries and monitor cables are used by everyone, and so even if there are a number of varieties, most computer/mobile stores carry them all.

A stylus is used by very few people, as such, if you need it, you will need to order it from a store. And if you live in a country like India, you may not be able to get the stylus you need and will have to order it all the way from the US.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by arpan on Fri 23rd Mar 2012 23:15 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by lucas_maximus"
arpan Member since:
2006-07-30

Memory cards have mostly standardized on micro-sd, SD & Compact flash.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by lucas_maximus
by WorknMan on Sat 24th Mar 2012 03:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by lucas_maximus"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

After working half a decade with a stylus and touchpad (back office systems) ... I am glad they are gone. Lose the stylus and you are prodding the machine with your finger nail ... not good.


I don't mind if there's an OPTION for stylus input, especially for things like drawing apps. But I'd rather use my finger(s) when possible, so glad it's not required anymore.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by lucas_maximus
by spiderman on Sun 25th Mar 2012 01:14 UTC in reply to "Comment by lucas_maximus"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

I don't know what you are taking about exactly. I have a stylus on my N900 and if I loose it, I can use anything that is long enough to fit in my hand and sharp enough to be precise: normal €0.3 stylus with cap will do, brush, pencil, toothbrush, toothpick, anything. What is so special about the stylus? Isn't it just a bit of plastic?

Edited 2012-03-25 01:15 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by lucas_maximus
by lucas_maximus on Sun 25th Mar 2012 09:01 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by lucas_maximus"
lucas_maximus Member since:
2009-08-18

Well what happens is that everyone uses things like ballpoint pens etc and the display get fucked up eventually. These machines usually cost about £1000 each with custom software on them

Reply Score: 2

Styluses suck because
by nefer on Sat 24th Mar 2012 00:05 UTC
nefer
Member since:
2012-02-15

- You keep putting them in odd places so you don't find them when needed
- they leave scratch marks on the screen
- they are never as fluid as a real pen
- writing on a screen doesn't give the same tactile feedback as pen on paper
- ...

What I COULD use on a tablet though is a rubber tip based brush and pressure sensitive surface, would be great for artistic endeavors.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Styluses suck because
by Neolander on Sat 24th Mar 2012 08:44 UTC in reply to "Styluses suck because"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Most of your remarks only apply to poor-quality styluses backed by slow capacitive touchscreen software, though. If you consider styluses which have been designed to be styluses and not to replace a huge greasy finger, such as Wacom's induction-based stuff, you don't apply nearly enough pressure to scratch a screen and drivers respond instantly instead of trying to figure out where that 5 mm² at the tip of your finger might have ended up. You also get pressure sensitivity, which without being a full-on replacement for a real pen helps a lot when drawing. And since this stuff does not try to work out the limitations of a capacitive touchscreen, you can use a pen of any shape you like depending on your needs.

I hate the fact that crappy styluses designed for use on resistive or capacitive touchscreens give a bad name to the technology as a whole. Modern pen input methods can do much better than that !

Edited 2012-03-24 08:47 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Styluses suck because
by nefer on Sun 25th Mar 2012 08:24 UTC in reply to "RE: Styluses suck because"
nefer Member since:
2012-02-15

you don't apply nearly enough pressure to scratch a screen


Which is basically the reason why pen input is a bad idea. When writing with pen on paper, people DO apply enough pressure which will scratch screens on digital devices, so most people will, willingly or unwillingly. The screens of pen input-enabled devices in the past will attest to this.

Pen input on tablets are never going to fully emulate the full pen and paper experience. With pen and paper, I can apply so much pressure that the paper bends, and that's fine. With pen input it isn't. Being only a partly emulation, Pen input is a lost cause for most case scenarios.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Styluses suck because
by Neolander on Sun 25th Mar 2012 09:46 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Styluses suck because"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Which is basically the reason why pen input is a bad idea. When writing with pen on paper, people DO apply enough pressure which will scratch screens on digital devices, so most people will, willingly or unwillingly.

For induction-based styluses, we are talking about this kind of tip.

http://www.studioclues.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/cintiq-pen.pn...

Good luck scratching a screen made of a reasonably hard plastic or glass with that.

The screens of pen input-enabled devices in the past will attest to this.

Most of past devices based on pen input (PDAs, Nintendo DS, etc...) used resistive technology to detect touch. The touch layer was extremely soft, and had to bend for touch to be detected. What's more, touch detection was extremely insensitive, requiring pretty strong pressure to be applied already for basic pointing. With such a technology, you were bound to scratch your screen.

Basing your judgement of pen input on these devices is just as fair as basing your judgement of finger input on them ("it never registers my finger when I tap gently so all touchscreens suck"). Everyone acknowledges that this technology was crap, OEMs only used it because it was dirt cheap with respect to other options at the time.

Pen input on tablets are never going to fully emulate the full pen and paper experience. With pen and paper, I can apply so much pressure that the paper bends, and that's fine. With pen input it isn't. Being only a partly emulation, Pen input is a lost cause for most case scenarios.

I agree that pen input cannot fully emulate the pen and paper experience, not because of an hypothetic risk of damaging your screen, but because modern screens do not have nearly the same physical characteristics as paper (they are much more slippery, for one thing, which can be good or bad but is certainly a shock coming from a pen and paper background)

However, I don't think that one should dismiss pen input for this sole reason. The goal of a computer interface based on a physical object should not be to perfectly imitate the behaviour of said object, but to provide a superior alternative to it that remains reasonably easy to learn.

Take computer keyboards, as an example. They were designed to emulate typewriters. They did not have nearly the same feeling as mechanical typewriters (much lighter feel and smaller course, quicker response, no jamming, no ink ribbon to care about, no end of line bell), but they provided people with a reasonably familiar interface, which required relatively little effort to learn, and also provided a superior replacement to both the mechanical typewriter and earlier computer interfaces based on lamps and switches. Shouldn't it be what matters in the end ?

There are only so much things which you can do with big fingers on current-gen capacitive touchscreens. Essentially consuming content made by others on more powerful computers. If we want to take tablet computers further and justify their laptop-like pricing, we need to make them do more. Optional input peripherals which are more capable than touch could be a sensible option in this regard, and as it turns out keyboard and stylus are pretty much the only things which we currently know about that can be integrated into a tablet design without sacrificing its portability.

Edited 2012-03-25 09:49 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Notes
by ndrw on Sat 24th Mar 2012 04:25 UTC
ndrw
Member since:
2009-06-30

Controlling GUI with fingers is fantastic, much better than using a stylus pretending to be a mouse.

But I still want a stylus for writing. In fact I haven't bought any "pad" device so far because, if I can't take notes on it, it's simply *much* less useful for me. Capacitive stylus won't cut it - it's only slightly better than my chubby fingers. The one presented in the article looks better but isn't well integrated with the device (10s calibration? seriously?), not sure if its lag is small enough, and is way too expensive.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Notes
by Neolander on Sat 24th Mar 2012 09:02 UTC in reply to "Notes"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Yup, don't think it will be much better than a "pure" capacitive stylus. Especially because since it is an active technology, you will get batteries in your stylus, which will as such either feel quite heavy or have a poor battery life.

Samsung have released an "S-pen" based on wacom tech along with their "Note" products, you may want to take a look at it since it seems to perform quite well : http://androidandme.com/2012/03/games/draw-something-shootout-galax... . Still a lot of lag though, they have to work out driver issues or put better processors in these things I guess. If you are ready to deal with the imprecision issues of capacitive touch screens, the "Jot Pro" presented here might be a good second choice.

But you already point out the big issue : device integration. Even when styluses don't outright require explicit app support, neither iOS nor Android do properly support stylus input at the core, and it shows.

Take calibration, as an example. For finger input, it is unnecessary, because fingers are so imprecise already that it doesn't matter. For pen input on a "pure" pen tablet like the Wacom Bamboo, it is still unnecessary, because the stylus detector is located immediately below the stylus. But as soon as you put an LCD screen between the sensitive element and the pen, you will have some visible visual mismatch between where you put your pen and where you draw. An OS which properly supports pen input can correct that, but a "pure" touchscreen OS won't.

EDIT : I'm currently checking out the newest Note stuff from samsung, to see if they have worked out the lag issue. http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/22/samsung-galaxy-note-10-1-preview...

EDIT 2 : Seems to. Might be an interesting product to look at for you...

Edited 2012-03-24 09:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Notes
by Neolander on Sat 24th Mar 2012 09:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Notes"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

EDIT : I'm currently checking out the newest Note stuff from samsung, to see if they have worked out the lag issue. http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/22/samsung-galaxy-note-10-1-preview...

EDIT 2 : Seems to. Might be an interesting product to look at for you...

EDIT 3 : Nope, still quite laggy on second look :/

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Notes
by ndrw on Sat 24th Mar 2012 10:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Notes"
ndrw Member since:
2009-06-30

Why don't they just put some light sensing pixels in the display and off-load processing to GPU is beyond my understanding.

I guess we will have to wait for Apple (oh, wait, Jobs is gone) before someone notices that people want to write on tablets and that there is a performance threshold, which separates cr*p experience from "just like paper" one.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Notes
by Neolander on Sat 24th Mar 2012 12:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Notes"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

What do you mean by light sensing pixels ? A reflective stylus and photodetectors on the screen ?

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Notes
by ndrw on Sat 24th Mar 2012 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Notes"
ndrw Member since:
2009-06-30

Yes, photodetector, which is just a diode and they are (or were) used in LCD panels. Just no-one has yet put the whole thing together to make a product.

As for the stylus - it could be reflective but likely it would work better with a small wide angle infrared diode. Not a big deal either way.

Capacitive sensors could be improved too. We could have them operate in two modes: "finger" - groups of pixels driven at low frequency -> low resolution, low power consumption, "writing" - single pixels driven at high frequency -> high resolution and temporarily higher power consumption.

My point is that there are many solutions one could come up with if he/she tried. The missing bit is vision and recognition that user experience doesn't scale linearly with specs. Jobs was really good at both.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Notes
by Treza on Sat 24th Mar 2012 19:18 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Notes"
Treza Member since:
2006-01-11

The inverse principle once existed : The "light pen" on old CRT displays. A photodiode synchronised with the CRT spot.

On a LCD display, I could imagine that each pixels transmits its position with minimal variations of colour and/or luminosity (for example red variation for columns, green for lines, or any other combined encoding), scrambled (randomised) for smoothing with pixels neareby. A photodiode could sense the bitstream and deduce the position, without needing any calibration. A small camera could even, sensing several pixels (a bit like the sensor in optical mice), sense the pen inclination and/or distance.

(Obviously, an appropriate encoding should be devised for trivial generation of the positioning overlay by a GPU)


[Hey, don't patent that, It's my idea ! ]

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Notes
by henderson101 on Sun 25th Mar 2012 15:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Notes"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

The Wacom Bamboo - depends on the model. Mine does both pen input and touch input. When I got mine, admittedly a couple of years ago, they did Pen, Touch and Pen & Touch versions. The touch is capacitive and will detect multiple touches and the pen is the traditional pen input. You can toggle touch ob and off and with the driver installed, it's a lot like a laptop touch pad (MacBook due to multitouch) or similar.

Reply Score: 3