A tablet with handwriting you might actually use

I like technology and gadgets. I particularly enjoy devices that try to bring productivity and creativity together. I own a Surface Pro 4, which is a good example of that; it’s all about getting work done and freeing you to do the work your way.

At least, that’s the idea. The Surface Pen is a big part of that freedom, but devices like the Surface have never quite solved a problem with their stylus input: writing on a touchscreen is still a far cry from putting pen to actual paper. It’s just not as accurate, quick, natural, or pleasant. Even though it comes close in some cases, most people (myself included) don’t end up using the stylus as much as they thought they would.

The latest addition to this device genre, the intriguing Lenovo Yoga Book, tries to solve that problem. It lets you write with real ink on real paper while it captures your writing digitally.

It does this by replacing the usual keyboard with a flat touch surface. This surface lights up with keys for touch typing, but it also takes input from a combination stylus/pen. You can even put real paper on top of the surface and write on it—the Yoga Book will detect the strokes and record them in an app.

We’ll have to wait to see if this tactic proves successful. The Yoga Book was only just announced; reviewers will get their mitts on it in a few weeks. Until then, a few thoughts:

  • I wonder if the physical size and aspect ratio will hinder the writing experience. It’s definitely on the small side, designed more like a tablet than a laptop.
  • I wonder if you’ll need special paper, or if you’ll have to use the included stylus/pen. These types of limitations can turn a great feature into something few people will actually use. How many people would give up their favorite pen?
  • I think the accuracy of the digital transcription needs to be spot-on. Small glitches could cause the whole project to go awry.
  • Reservations aside, I’m glad to see a new approach to tablets with handwriting. This could be useful thing to many people.