I was both elated and miffed by an article today on PC World’s site that says of HTC’s new Android tablet, Flyer, that “HTC reaches back to yesteryear by including a pen stylus with the Flyer.” I’m miffed because of the inherent bias that typically comes with the use of a stylus in a computer world (don’t get me wrong; the reviewer loved this function on the Flyer, but the author makes it seem like a retro feature). Finger based computing is great for many things such as navigation, but it is not the end all of inputs. True, I like to type most of my notes, but I also like to be able to scribble them–especially diagrams or directions. I also like annotation. Annotation is the lifeblood of scholars (for professors as well as students). Using a keyboard, mouse, or finger to highlight or insert comments on an ebook, pdf article, or text document just is not as good as being able to use a stylus. The pen is much more precise and quicker.
I’ve been waiting a long time for word on inclusion of a stylus with the new phone-centric tablets. After all, that is one of the key features of the more mature laptop-based tablets. I’ve seen a couple of manufacturers include a stylus for selection and even a few for drawing and some handwriting-within-a-window uses (reminds me of Apple’s Newton) but nothing (again, on the phone-based tablets) that lets me use a pen the way I use a pen. So bravo, HTC! I hope other manufacturers follow.