Note Taking on Blackberry Playbook/iPad

What are the users’ thoughts on using a tablet to take notes? How many of you type up your daily notes and on what interval?

I recently purchased a Blackberry Playbook for personal and professional use.  I have been using it for note taking (typing only) recently but I am still on the fence as to if it should be my everyday note collection method..
I love having my notes searchable, and I love to use technology to the fullest extent of design, but I am not sure if taking notes on paper and then typing them up would be a better process or not? I know it would be less efficient, but Mark and Mike preach effectiveness so I am willing to do whatever would qualify.
I welcome any of your advice and feedback. Thanks in advance!
J. Michael Stahl, P.E.

Use paper...


I have an iPad, and I love it... However, I have found that in a meeting, paper notes are the most effective. When I tried note taking on the iPad, it was not as 'bad' as using a laptop, but still a negative. It was felt I was playing with a toy, and not paying attention. When I took notes with paper notebook, even though it was the same notes, it was perceived as a positive.

After the meetings, I transfer any needed info/action items/etc into my ipad/electronic system. This gives me the benefit of having needed data in electronic system, review of all meetings and action points, and being effective.


More work for me, but benefits heavily outweigh the cost.




An alternative to the

An alternative to the Playbook but still having notes searchable is taking paper notes and scanning into a paid version of Evernote which OCRs them. After the upload, the paper can be discarded.

I'm moving in this direction.


I've been using OneNote as

I've been using OneNote as my primary note repository for the last 5 or 6 years. I store my personal notes on SkyDrive and my work notes on an internal SharePoint server, and I sync all notes with all 3 of my PC's (desktop, laptop, and tablet - which I'll get to in a moment), plus my phone. With this configuration I can take notes on any device, and those notes are automatically synced with each other device. Plus I can view and edit all notes in a browser in case I'm not on one of my PC's, or I simply want to make a quick edit and don't want to launch the full client.

I also have the Capturx OneNote digital pen which I use when the situation is more appropriate for taking paper notes. Everything you write is stored in the pens internal memory, and then when I get back to my desk I just dock the pen in its cradle and an exact replica of each page of notes is imported into OneNote. It's a beautiful thing. :)

To your point about tablets, I've certainly noticed a big increase in tablets being brought to customer meetings that I attend, plus events that I'm speaking at. But I personally don't really see any difference in taking notes with a tablet and onscreen keyboard Vs using a laptop. If the situation says using a laptop would be inappropriate, than I think a tablet would be as well.

However, I will make one exception, and that's if you're using a stylus to take notes. I have the Asus EP121 Windows 7 slate, which I've been using for customer meetings lately. I lay the slate flat on the table, launch OneNote, and use the stylus to take notes. It basically functions no different than a piece of paper. I'm not fiddling with the device, not going in and out of apps, the screen is flat on the table so it's not obtrusive to the conversation, and my note taking behavior is absolutely no different than it would be using pen and paper.

Some may disagree, which is completely understandable, but I feel that we're entering a new era of devices and the "rules" about technology in meetings will shift to a "stylus Vs keyboard" discussion and away from a "pen and paper Vs laptop" discussion. Using a keyboard, whether physical (laptop) or onscreen, requires body posture and screen viewing angles that lead to ineffective meeting behavior (for you and the attendees around you that wonder if you're actually doing email). However, writing with a stylus on a flat (digital) surface can eliminate much of the "no laptops in meetings" concerns, provided that you're still using the device responsibly - ie., everything on mute, all apps closed, and absolutely no multitasking.

Quick side note, I was in a customer meeting with my Asus slate about a month ago. I was connected to their projector, presenting a PowerPoint deck from it. Also had my Polycom USB speaker connected to it which was broadcasting a remote colleague that was connected to a Microsoft Lync conference call that I was hosting on the slate, -and- I was using the stylus to take notes in OneNote on it, all at the same time. The client thought it was the coolest technology demonstration they had seen, and several of the clients had iPads in the room and said "wow, our iPads can't do anything even close to what you're doing". I thought it was pretty cool. :)



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Is this different than the "no laptops" recommendation?

I attended a high level meeting on Thursday where one of the participants typed on her Ipad the entire meeting. It was unobtrusive, however she looked disengaged from the group. I don't think that it served her well. Most of this group were high "S" nurse executives. I'm a high D/I, and I love new electronics, but I have not found a way to incorporate typing into a meeting without losing the listening behaviors that are critical to full understanding (looking up, making eye contact, leaning forward, nodding). So I leave the electronic devices "off" and use paper notes. I would make an exception for those taking minutes, but this individual was just taking notes for herself. 


Feels backwards, for a touch typist...

I take my laptop everywhere, and for the most part I find it easier to stay engaged.  I'm a touch typist, so it's common for me to be typing while I'm looking at faces, not at my screen.   I have trouble with paper notes, precisely because it pulls my attention down to the paper, if only to make sure I"m not scribbling on top of stuff I've already written.  

I understand Mike & Mark's recommendation:  It's as much about what other people think you're doing as what you're really doing.  I'm more effective when I take (fairly spare) notes in a way that makes it seem I'm ignoring my laptop.   I think it's more important to take control of the technology than to reject its advantages.

M&M are pretty smart.  You may want to take their advice instead.


Thank You!

I appreciate all of the advice.  Thank you all for your time and great comments!

J. Michael Stahl, P.E.