While Input Panel has its limitations, it will work with every Microsoft Windows application that runs on the tablet, even command-line applications. Part of your success in using Input Panel is knowing which part of Input Panel to use for which situation and when not to use it at all. Each input option has its advantages, disadvantages, and best uses.
The on-screen keyboard is a tedious way to enter more than a short sentence worth of text. Since it actually is a keyboard, however, there are no handwriting recognition errors and symbols such as @ are easily accessible. The on-screen keyboard is best for entering passwords, Web addresses that are not real words, uncommon technical terms not found in the tablet’s dictionary, and small on-screen text corrections.
The writing pad is best for entering up to four or five sentences of normal English. Exactly how many sentences varies with how well the handwriting recognizer understands your handwriting and the language you use, as well as your tolerance for going back and correcting mistakes. The writing pad works well for short e-mail messages, Web addresses based on real words, minor document editing, and many general Windows tasks, such as naming new folders.
Write Anywhere is a variation on the writing pad that provides more writing space and a transparent writing surface. The word recognition error rate is the same as with Input Panel but it is more comfortable to enter a paragraph or more of text with handwriting. It’s somewhat harder to use your pen in place of a mouse while Write Anywhere is activated.
Speech input is done through Input Panel and is good for text input of many paragraphs. It’s fast, but it requires concentration to avoid “ums” and “uhs” and time to go back and correct mistakes. Speech input frees you from typing or writing as you think, which can be helpful for getting your thoughts down if you don’t type quickly, and it can be useful for transcribing documents if you’re not a fast typist.
A standard keyboard is still the best tool for entering text quickly and accurately. To use your tablet fully, some kind of external keyboard is required at least some of the time.