Comparison of Handwritten Notes (Pen vs Capacitive Stylus)
With Windows 8 / RT around the corner, and with only a handful of the announced tablets having an active digitizer, I thought it might be a little helpful to demonstrate the difference between the two, for anyone who is considering taking handwritten notes on a tablet. My current tablet is a Dell Latitude XT2 convertible tablet, which uses first generation N-Trig hardware. (I actually have an even smoother writing experience on my old Wacom tablet, for what it's worth.)<p><p>So the two main things here are precision and palm rejection. First of all, on a touchscreen only screen, where you want to use a capacitive stylus, there won't be any palm rejection. (Some iPad software uses workarounds for this, I believe, but nothing on Windows 8 does). That means that you're going to have to hold your hand in the air above the screen, because if you touch the screen with your wrist while you're writing, it's going to mess up what you're doing. On the opposing side, with an active digitizer pen, Windows detects a pen hover about 10-15mm from the screen. When it detects that, it disables touch, so you can naturally rest your hand on the screen.<p><p>Secondly, and even more important is precision. You're just not going to get anything nearly as precise with a capacitive stylus, as you can see in the image below. I clearly don't have the best handwriting in the world, that's a given. However, with a capacitive stylus, it's a struggle to get enough fine detail to write at a normal size. It's only when I write much larger than I usually do that anything is recognizable as an actual letter. The pressure sensitivity (which isn't that great on this hardware, Wacom is better in my experience) also helps to keep the feel more natural.<p><p>
Anyway, my point I guess is this. If you're planning on using a tablet without an active digitizer to take handwritten notes in Windows 8 or Windows RT, I'd recommend against it.