In considering the iPad, one of my early concerns was the lack of a stylus and handwriting recognition software. I’ve used good versions of these tools before, and I know how powerful they can be. While getting ready to head off to ALA, I decided that I would try a couple of iPad tools. The obligatory Googling led me to the WritePad app and the Pogo Sketch Stylus.
I’ve found WritePad to be a very functional application. The handwriting recognition is good – at least with a finger. It’s not so good with the stylus, but I find that to be a fault of the stylus rather than WritePad. More on that later. I would greatly prefer that handwriting recognition be thoughtfully integrated throughout the iPad OS, but Apple obviously doesn’t share my enthusiasm. As it is, handwriting is converted to text within the WritePad app. From there it’s a copy/paste job if you want to move it into another application.
Unfortunately, the Pogo Sketch Stylus proved to be a disaster. I bought it expressly for use at this conference, and it was so bad that I left it at home. No point in packing a useless item, right? I’ve struggled with how to describe the Pogo Sketch, and this is what I’ve come up with . . .
Remember when you were little and got a nice, new box of Magic Markers? Your pictures had crisp, clean lines, and all was right with the world. Then THAT KID got his hands on them. You know the one: the kid who smashed the markers down on the paper as hard as he could, thus ruining the tips and turning them into a mushy bunch of fibers. That’s what the Pogo Sketch feels like and looks like – a mushy bunch of fibers. Remember how you couldn’t really get a clean line after that kid smashed the marker tips? That’s how the Pogo Sketch responds. My handwriting isn’t the prettiest, but it is completely legible with pen and paper. With this stylus, it becomes almost unreadable. Just like a mushy Magic Marker, you can’t predict where the lines will fall. You wind up with stray marks and marks that don’t line up correctly. Not surprisingly, WritePad can’t really do anything with the resulting characters. I wish I could say that I just need more practice, but I’ve used styli for years. I had a sinking feeling as soon as I saw the tip of the Pogo Sketch, and my fears were confirmed when I actually used it.
So you can’t always get what you want. I’m still looking for the optimal combination. WritePad will be fine with the correct stylus, but it would be better if integrated throughout the OS. Pogo Sketch just doesn’t get the job done, so I’m still looking. *sigh* The iPad has such possibilities. Get with the program, Apple.