It’s funny, when I had a Psion Series 3a, I wrote a lot on that tiny thing. I could pour down my thoughts on it wherever I was, and really fast despite those tiny keys. It was the perfect keyboard for tumbtyping. I wrote papers for school, scenes for some plays, and later wrote papers on it when I was at the university. I thumbtyped on long trains rides. Battery seemed to last forever, and it was really light. When at home, I just hit sync and I could work on it on my PC. When that thing finally gave up, it was like I lost a limb.
I tried to find a replacement, but wasn’t able to find the feel of that solid old Series 3a. I don’t know, the interface was just remarkable, so well thought out, and it didn’t even have a touch screen! Maybe it was because everything could be controlled with the keyboard that was the wonderful thing, because you didn’t have to switch between the keys and a stylus. The Series 5 felt too big, and I just couldn’t thumbtype comfortably on that thing. And switching between keyboard and pen, that’s not intuitive. I tried handwriting with a Newton, but those MessagePads 2000 are big, and it’s still slow to input text. It didn’t came close to the rapid thought train that was the Series 3a. Tried a Palm, but it’s really not fast having to use Graffiti, and an external keyboard makes it big. I also just don’t like having to use a stylus on small computers. I didn’t try any PDA with hardware keys after that. Maybe I should have bought a Blackberry, or something like that. I used paper notebooks for the last couple of years, but retyping my text does take long. Also, I don’t have pretty handwriting. And searching through my notes also takes a long time. Enter 2008, and I bought an iPod touch.
I thought long about buying it, and finally cave in just a couple of weeks ago. The device is everything I hoped for. And I did have my reservations about that virtual keyboard, but it’s not that bad. For me, typing on a glass pane actually feels quite good. Yes, there are occasional misses, but the auto-correct catches a lot. It’s just the whole interface that makes a good experience: it’s simple, functional, and I just totally get it. It’s the same feeling I had with my Series 3a. Everything is controlled with my fingers. No switching between two different interface types, meaning a pen and keyboard. It just makes sense, even more than keyboard and mouse on the PC. The keyboard slides up when I need it, and moves away when I don’t. I just type in my thoughts wherever I am. Sometimes, I don’t like sitting behind my PC. I walk around, and type a few things on my iPod touch. For now, the available software is still immature. Syncing my text to my Mac is a bit of a hassle. But man, I really think Apple has made a wonderful product for the future. For me, the iPod touch is just a wonderful tool for my brain, and I do hope that good software is developed for it.
ScrivNote might not be for everyone. Heck, the iPod touch might not be for everyone, certainly not for those who hate the virtual keyboard. But I was born in the age of the PDA. I like to carry a pocketable PC with me, instead of a paper notebook. I think the touchscreen interface is the future. I like the concept of a unified interface, meaning one way to control the interface. Like the Series 3a was a great tool that I could carry with me all the time, I’m positive that the task will now be carried over by my iPod touch. If in the future there is a way that I could enter a couple of thoughts on it, or even work out scenes on it during the day, and finally sync it with Scrivener on the Mac, that would be wonderful.
Oh, and the Netbook is not the equivalent of the paper notebook in the digital age. It’s small, but it doesn’t fit in the palm of your hand. Yes you can carry it with you in a small bag, but you still need to put it onto a table or your lap when you want to use it. So there still is a place for the pocketable computer.