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reviewing ritePen handwriting recognition software

Discussion in 'Tablet PC' started by Avner Ben, Dec 22, 2003.

  1. Avner Ben

    Avner Ben Guest

    Product review: ritePen 2.0.15. from Pen & Internet.

    I installed the new ritePen version and have been using it for two days, and
    here are my first impressions:

    There is noticeable improvement over the Previous Version. The good the handwriting recognition is substantially better than the TIP (for me at
    least). Some remarkable features:

    - Option - at last! – to cancel the annoying "add space after text" feature.
    - Option for separate letter recognition. This enhances recognition for me,
    as I naturally do not combine letters.
    - The shape of the ink is smooth and the ink lettering is pleasing to the
    eye. It looks like my handwriting at last!
    - Right mouse menu for Word-by-Word correction of the last-input batch
    suggesting alternatives for each Word
    - Capital I and digit 1 are identified in text without problems. For
    example, this text - “TIP” - was input all three capital letters, with the
    letter I having serifs.
    - The gestures work reliably (but there are too few - e.g. tab is missing,
    and there is no facility for adding gestures).
    - The engine is intelligent enough to support retroactive insertion to text,
    Windows-Journal-style, (as long as ink is still present). I tested the late
    addition of t crosses (including one cross over double t!) i dots and even
    complete characters. For example, in this text - "this IS a test" the letter
    h was inserted between the first t and the i after writing the last t!).

    Some less successful features:
    - The Product consults its own dictionary (currently English and German
    only). I had rather use (and enhance) the same dictionary as the TIP. There
    is supposed to be a 'fusion' option where ritePen works hand in hand with
    the Microsoft recognition engine, whatever that means. (Does that include
    unifying the dictionary?) Unfortunately, I found this option to be greyed
    - Poor recognition of punctuation and special symbols inside text.
    Recognition is improved when symbols are input standalone. Certain letters
    are always capitalized when input standalone. I did not manage to input
    standalone lower-case l.

    RitePen features only one input Mode: write directly on screen. The lack of
    an omnipresent TIP window has many advantages, but also some disadvantages.
    Since I have behind me some three years of direct screen writing on a
    pen-top computer, I had little problem redoing (and enjoying) the paradigm
    shift. However, this approach has some setbacks. for one, it does not allow
    you to start writing with punctuation (which an omnipresent TIP allows).
    While you do not start with punctuation when inputting text, you do need
    this functionality to edit existing text (which the engine does not see). I
    believe that - contrary with what handwriting recognition engine designers
    have in mind - the latter usage is more frequent. Here, the "Mama knows
    better" approach does no good and simply stands in your way. so, I would
    appreciate the addition of a character-input ruler that may be summoned
    easily to begin dumb character input, punctuation included, like the one I
    believe I have seen in a LoneStar preview.

    Another setback of this input method is that each touch of pen to screen is
    first interpreted by the recognition engine, which has to decide whether to
    let it go as innocent mouse movement. RitePen does a good job of not
    interfering with most programs, but it does interfere with some, most
    regrettably with Phrase Express – the two products do not seem to be able to
    work together. Working with Message Ease becomes practical after reducing
    the selection time to 200ms (you must remember to give the Message Ease
    keyboard that little delay). An option to suspend recognition over some
    apps' windows could be handy!

    The bottom line: I needed a TIP Replacement for writing program code (while
    on the move) and for entering other non-Standard-English highly technical
    text. It so happens that the default TIP is 100% unacceptable for the job. I
    have found that a basic response for my requirement is supplied by the
    combination of the new ritePen handwriting recognition, the MessgeEase
    software keyboard and StrokeIt gesture recognition . However, to make the
    solution complete, I would need an intelligent pop-up character-mode input
    ruler and the ability to use Phrase Express Without turning ritePen off

    The configuration I downloaded came bundled with a second application called
    'riteMail'. It is basically a Windows Journal clone with shape-smoothing
    capabilities and a Java client for exchanging ink-based Mail. The
    recognition is inferior to Windows Journal and lacks some basic features
    (available in Journal and even in ritePen!), such as editing ink while
    copying text to the Clipboard. The shape recognition is excellent, doing
    also concentric circles and arrowheads. However, it lacks Corel Grafigo 1's
    ability to translate text in place. The lasso tool works fast and smooth,
    doing without the slow point-by-point dragging of Microsoft's default. I
    have not tested the Mail capability yet.

    Avner Ben, Dec 22, 2003
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