Pen-based systems—including many tablet PCs, personal digital assistants, and other types of handheld computers—use a pen for data input (see Fig. 1).
computer use a pen for data input
Fig. 1: handheld computers—use a pen for data input.
This device is sometimes called a stylus.
You hold the pen in your hand and write on a special pad or directly on the screen.
You also can use the pen as a pointing device, like a mouse, to select commands by tapping the screen.
You might think that pen-based systems would be a handy way to enter text into the computer for word processing. In reality, developers have had a great deal of trouble perfecting the technology so that it deciphers people’s handwriting with 100 percent reliability. Because handwriting recognition is so complex, pen-based computers are not used generally to enter large amounts of text, although they are used frequently for taking notes, creating short messages, and writing annotations on electronic documents.
PDAs and tablet PCs are popular for these kinds of tasks, which do not require keyboarding.
Pen-based computers are commonly used for data collection, where the touch of a pen might place a check in a box to indicate a part that must be ordered or a service that has been requested.
Another common use is for inputting signatures or messages that are stored and transmitted as a graphic image, such as a fax. When delivery-service drivers make deliveries, they often have recipients sign their names on such a computer-based pad. As handwriting-recognition technology becomes increasingly reliable, pen-based systems will undoubtedly become more common.

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