Twitter's buzzing with technolust based on an Engadget article picturing a Microsoft concept-computer.

03-05-10courier

Looks lovely, but the photo is misleading. It shows lines of cursive writing that are fraction of a size of the reader's fingernail. Take a look at this blowup:

screen-shot-2010-03-05-at-105756-am

Based on my fingernail, that cursive writing is about 3mm tall. You might be able to read 8 point cursive handwriting on a high-resolution dispay, but there's no way under Heaven that you can write anywhere near that size, especially not using a stylus on a glass screen.

In fact, using a stylus on a Tablet PC, you write about 33-50% larger than you do on a piece of paper because your cursive writing is based on the muscle memory of pushing a pen or pencil over paper, which is more resistant. Personally, my experience is that on the 12" diagonal screen of my Tablet PC, it "feels" like a writing area close to a 4" x 6" index card.

Don't get me wrong -- the Microsoft Courier looks like a great form-factor. But the user experience implied by that photo is not realistic. It's perfectly possible to imagine that what's shown is a zoomed-out page and that when you're writing and sketching you're zoomed in to a much smaller viewport. But the user experience that everyone dreams of -- the user experience of a digital Moleskine notebook -- requires innovation in either the screen surface or the stylus tip. As far as the iPad and the idea that dragging your great big finger across a piece of glass is going to be an acceptable way to write or draw, the sooner you give up on that hope, the better.