Creative Journaling with Windows Tablets. Part 1: An Apple fan transitions from Paper to a Windows Tablet

My wife has been looking at the iPad Pro devices for the last few months. She’s seen what I’m able to do with my Surface Pro and Galaxy Note pen enabled devices and has become interested in converting her coloring and more importantly her journaling to a digital format. She uses her Hobonichi Planner and a custom fountain pen I bought her to run our entire household, manage our children’s schooling, track our healthcare, and as a form of creative output. She prints pictures from the HP Sprocket and sticks them on various pages or diary entries about our activities. She colors, doodles, stickers, and even paints on some of the pages. You can see her custom leather journal cover from Chic Sparrow  inscribed with the now famous Zelda quote, “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this!” in the featured image above. People don’t go to that expense and trouble for something that isn’t important to them. Convincing her to go digital has been a long, long journey.

Her journal is a very effective tool and an art form in and of itself, but as our family becomes busier and we rely more and more on the information contained within it, the technologist in me can’t help but see several major flaws with the paper system. The biggest of which is that it’s a single copy of important data with no easy method of backing it up. The best I’ve come up with is taking pictures of some of the more important pages. Other problems crop up when we need to incorporate digital information into the system like sites and passwords. The Sprocket lets her add photos but other digital media is out of reach. There are also challenges when she needs to share the info with other family members. I’m concerned about security; if she leaves it at a restaurant whomever picks it up will have access to important personal information just by flipping through the pages.


She’s prefered Apple’s technology for quite some time now. I’ve lost count of how many iPads and iPhones she’s cycled through over the years. As I’ve said in other articles, I’m not a brand oriented technologist, I use whatever works best for the task at hand. For her, that’s been Apple devices, hence her interest in a new iPad with an Apple pencil.

However, I’ve noticed that she needs to borrow my PC to accomplish certain tasks more frequently than she realizes. She likes games like The Witcher 3 and Sims 4 that just don’t run on Apple’s stuff. The full Microsoft Office is required when doing anything complex. Our educational curriculum requires the use of web-sites that still employ Adobe Flash. When it comes to digital pen input, Microsoft and Samsung have had years to perfect their solutions and they work in the entire system across all apps, not just a select few. These reasons led me to convince her to convert to a Windows 10 tablet instead of an iPad with a pencil.

She had been using my Surface for some of the PC related tasks I mentioned above and liked it. To show her Windows was the way to go, I set her up a customized user profile and she played with it for a couple of weeks. She enjoyed it for the most part, but was nervous that the learning curve would cause a lot of frustration. I didn’t argue, just agreed that it might and promised that if the transition wasn’t worth it, we’d return or sell whatever device she ended up with and I’d get her an iPad with an Apple pencil no questions asked.

I think a big part of the attraction to iPads over Windows is the physical size. People assume that the Surface Pro is the only available system; nothing could be further from the truth. For her birthday I got her a Samsung Galaxy Book 10.6″ which is a Windows 10 tablet that is roughly the same size as the smallest iPad (10.5″) that you can use the Apple pencil with. I’ll be writing a full review of it just as soon as I can pry it out of her hands and spend some quality time with it. It really is an impressive piece of hardware and I’m more than a little jealous.


She spent several hours, a couple of days really, getting Windows tweaked and installing software. Things like Google services, Email, Instagram, Facebook, Flipboard, Spotify, Pinterest, Amazon, Nook, Kindle, Audbile, Office 365, Steam, etc. were all just as easy to setup on the PC as they were on the iPad (her words). 75% of the software including Office 2016 came pre-installed and the rest was just a matter of opening the Windows store and finding the apps. Most modern apps store their data in the cloud, so once you get them installed and have logged on with your account everything is just there. I helped with some of the advanced stuff  like: making a Windows theme out of her favorite pictures, arranging her Start Menu, enabling surround sound on her headphones, and exporting / importing data from her apple devices.  I gave her a quick lesson on how to manage bluetooth and Wi-Fi, where to find all the settings she might need, and how to create and pin shortcuts.

When I followed up with her a few days later she told me how well the transition had been going so far. In her opinion, Microsoft has really nailed it with Windows 10. Cortana kicks the crap out of Siri in every way, she bragged about how awesome it was to have a voice assistant that could actually assist. She loved the speed of her new system and how it could play her favorite full games or stream them from our Xbox, Playstation, or gaming PC. She’d figured out the hand-writing input; had used bluetooth to pair a Dualshock controller, an external mouse, and her Sprocket printer. She setup all of her network connections, synced her iPhone and more. I was impressed. For most of it she just asked Cortana, “How do I….?”.

The trouble started when she logged on to the Windows store to download the Goodnotes app she’d experimented with on her iPad mini. Unbeknownst to me, this specific app was a big part of the reason she was willing to attempt to convert from paper to digital journaling. The Goodnotes app is featured in many journaling groups on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter and has a lot of fan support on Youtube. It wasn’t there. Now what? She likes Windows 10 and doesn’t really want to change to an iPad, but the journaling portion of the project was the most important part to her. Was my plan busted before it really got started? To be continued…..


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