I’ve been looking with some interest and bemusement at the way the Tablet PC is evolving. The idea is to have an interface that is as human-friendly and intuitive as possible. The pen paradigm used in the Tablet makes a lot of sense in that way – for Gen X, brought up on pen and paper, the stylus works great to take quick notes. Good handwriting recognition software is already available, and any quirks in interpretation can be ironed out.
However, I (and many other people I know) fall in the category of people who can actually type faster than write. Growing up on computers (since age 10) has resulted in a comfort level with computers that grows more with every new generation of children entering schools. This is a set of people more comfortable not only with QWERTY keyboards, but also with the seriously limited keyboards of cellphones – where you have to press a key thrice to get to ‘C’ or to ‘F’.
There is obvious value in the stylus, of course. Diagramming is one obvious use. Doodling to get your creative juices flowing is another one that pops to mind.
I don't own one myself, but I'm curious to see ways in which using a Tablet may be better. One thing about good design is that you realize its power as you use it more and more. Case in point: GMail. Another case in point: The new Office 2007 Beta 2.
Unless I can get my hands on a Tablet to use for an extended period of time, I guess I really won't know either way.