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Hi-tech History

The need

Using a computer keyboard to take notes in archives and reference libraries seems an obvious need to me, but never seems to be mentioned.  Anything smaller than a laptop has a cramped keyboard, but space is often limited in archives, and a full-sized laptop is heavy and cumbersome.  Most now have a screen with the same proportions as wide screen cinema, which is wrong for sensible tasks.  The screens are also highly reflective, making video look wonderful but wrong for note-taking under bright room lights.  The answer for the last few years has been ‘netbooks’, laptops with smaller screens (and smaller keyboards), light, compact, and possibly having a battery that would last a whole day.  Asus, the trailblazing manufacturer, and its emulator Acer have decided to stop making netbooks.  It will still be possible to buy slimline, lightweight laptops with long battery life, and for those who can afford them, they will probably be the answer.  

I suspect that many people will be taking notes on Apple iPads and similar ‘tablet’ devices with touchscreens.  It is possible to buy separate keyboards that plug into iPads etc, and stands that raise the devices half vertical.  That seems a rather unsatisfactory arrangement.  Devices for reading books, like Amazon’s Kindle, started by offering ‘paper white’ screens, and even alphanumeric keys, but are now turning into iPad style backlit touch screens.  Oh dear.

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