Recently I invested in a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet PC. The idea behind this purchase was that I wanted a small enough device to take into meetings but also something with enough grunt & a familiar enough ecosystem to handle most of the tasks associated with web design and work off of in a park, in a cafe, on the beach or up a mountain, etc etc… Whilst I love the Android environment for my phone, when moving a live, in progress project from a desktop machine to another, portable device, familiarity, tool compatibility and as small a transitional period as possible is key, meaning that a Windows based machine was really the only way forward.
The first few meetings I just added the Surface to my usual meeting kit – Project divided notepad with folders for loose paper, pen, spare pen, business cards, phone, wallet, keys, kitchen sink… You know the drill.
One day I had occasion to use OneNote on the Surface to sketch something out using it’s handy bundled pen, which worked pretty well. Using OneNote everything is by default synchronised with my Microsoft Account, much like my Google account is on my Nexus 5. Any notes I make are saved in ‘The Cloud’ as I write without me having to even fire a neuron to remember to hit CTRL+S. However, being a bit slow on the uptake as I am, it did take me a couple more meetings to realise that there was no reason the Surface couldn’t take the place of a notebook & pen entirely.
The Penny Drops…
I’ve used this approach in a couple of meetings now and I’m struggling to find a reason I would go back to having to carry a paper notebook as well. I generally use the pen and essentially use the Surface in place of a notepad in meetings, in portrait mode the blank page will fill the screen and can be used facing up on a table or balanced on my lap, providing less of a barrier, with the added advantage that if I run out of room I can just scroll down rather than disrupting the meeting with noisy page turns.
When out and about brainstorming blog posts or writing emails I will tend towards using the keyboard, typing rather than handwriting does give the added advantage of not having to decipher my scrawl afterwards, although OneNote seems to be pretty good at that too with quite clever built in OCR.