The Fastest Text Input Test: Laptop, iPhone, Pen, Palm, or Newton?

In this totally unscientific but reasonably fair test, one man writes a long paragraph on several different devices (including pen and paper) to test speed. The results may surprise and anger you.

The contestants: MacBook (unibody), pen and paper, iPhone (portrait), Apple Newton, Palm Treo 650 (hardware QWERTY), and Palm VX (Graffiti handwriting recognition software). There are some details that are a little troubling, of course; with handheld keyboards, speed greatly depends on how often you use then, and the tester has been using an iPhone as his main handheld for 18 months. A dedicated BlackBerry (or Pre) user would almost certainly do better with a hardware QWERTY than the tester did. That being said, it's pretty much impossible to have a perfectly fair test of this sort, and the tester clearly did what he could to eke out the best time possible for each device, so just take his results with a grain of salt.


The results: The laptop keyboard came out in front, which is no surprise, with the iPhone, Treo and pen and paper coming out essentially even, about 50% longer than the laptop. The two handwriting recognition devices finished way behind the pack.

I was a bit surprised, as was the tester, that the laptop keyboard didn't absolutely destroy the handhelds—just goes to show how good those little things really are. But you don't really care about that. It's Apple Tablet week, and what you care about is how this affects our predictions for the Tablet. And I'm not going to disappoint you.

I predict that the Tablet will not be made of ink and paper. You can quote me on that. []


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