Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Fingering your nook

by Rob - March 1st, 2010.
Filed under: ebooks, nook.

A suggestion for Barnes and Noble re the nook ebook-reading device:

The very first Palm Pilot going back all the way to 1996 and the original Rocket eBook from 1998 allowed you to do handwriting recognition (on Palms, using the Graffiti or Graffiti 2 system, the former of which used simplified characters, the latter of which recognized fully formed characters; on the Rocket, using the similar Allegro system).

I know in these post-iPhone days it’s supposed to be old-fashioned to use a stylus, but for inputting short notes or words to look up, it’s much faster to use a stylus than a tiny pop-up keyboard.

The handwriting recognition on these devices turned the characters you drew into text, just as if you’d typed them. Since the nook (unlike the Kindle) does NOT have a physical keyboard, why not take full advantage of the touch-screen interface and allow Graffiti-style handwriting input (as well as the on-screen keyboard)?

The idea that ONLY allowing fingertip input instead of optionally also allowing the fine control of a stylus is like only allowing finger painting instead of using a brush. It’s fine for kids the first time they’re doing it, but for adults who actually do need to frequently enter text (for annotations, searches, and so forth), it’s a clumsy method — and one to which the nook could easily offer an alternative.

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