The Dom Perignon III Speed Contest ended on December 20th, with
the fifty contenders recording an impressive average speed of 50
words per minute! The contest was sponsored by Textware
Solutions and cosponsored by Astraware, Blue Nomad, IA Style,
Neohand, PaulComputing, PocketInformant, Quik Sense, and ttools.

Winning in the three categories are Jenneth Orantia of Canberra,
Australia, Jim Belich of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Patrick Yam of
Vernon, British Columbia:

Category Method Speed Winner

Pocket PC Fitaly - Pocket PC 78.25 wpm Jenneth Orantia
Thumboard Treo thumboard 84.00 wpm Jim Belich
Palm FitalyStamp - Palm 73.55 wpm Patrick Yam

All three winners have received the prestigious Dom Perignon
award in time for New Year's Eve.

Over 50 participants entered the contest this year using more
than 10 different input systems. Average speeds achieved for
major methods are shown below:

Method Speed Entries

Fitaly - Pocket PC 59.38 wpm 11 Entries
FitalyStamp - Palm 58.86 wpm 10 Entries
Thumboards 57.98 wpm 6 Entries
MessagEaseST - Palm 50.63 wpm 6 Entries
Atomik Stamp - Palm 46.65 wpm 3 Entries
Qwerty Keyboards 31.09 wpm 4 Entries
Handwriting Methods 28.87 wpm 7 Entries

One clear result is that there are now many much faster
alternatives to handwriting recognition on PDAs. The average
speed achieved with handwriting methods such as Graffiti and
Calligrapher was under 30 words per minute - well below the
average 50 words per minute achieved by all participants.

Another conclusion suggests that alternative keyboard layouts
based on the idea of minimizing pen travel between keys, as
pioneered by the Fitaly layout, provide the fastest speed on
PDAs. Fitaly for the Pocket PC and FitalyStamp finished first and
second, with an average speed approaching 60 words per minute.
Two other methods that are also based on minimizing pen travel -
MessagEase and IBM's Atomik keyboard - both delivered average
speeds around 50 words per minute. In contrast, the average speed
reached with an onscreen Qwerty layout was barely above 30 words
per minute.

The contest confirms that excellent speed can be achieved with
thumboards and Jim Belich's 84 wpm breaks Faith Perez' 82 wpm
previous record established with FitalyStamp in the Dom Perignon
II contest. Yet it may come as a surprise to some that using two
thumbs on a thumboard did not yield a better average speed than
using a single pen with a method like Fitaly that is based on an
optimized layout. Obviously, only one key is typed at a time,
whether one or two fingers are used, so that two fingers do not
necessarily type faster than one. The advantage of a thumboard
over an onscreen Qwerty keyboard used with a pen appears to be
mostly that it reduces finger travel on a layout designed for ten
fingers. Note also that for applications that alternate text with
pen taps on buttons and menus, as opposed to straight text, the
finger travel reduction on thumboards will be less. (Transfer
times between pen and keyboard reduce speed just as transfer
times between car and train mean that it is sometimes faster to
just drive.)

Like prior contests held in 1998 and 2000, the Dom Perignon III
Speed Contest confirms that it is possible to enter text in PDAs
at speeds around 50 words per minute. As PDAs are evolving into
real business tools and email is becoming more prevalent every
day, the fast input methods they require are now available. These
methods are actually so fast that the computer in your pocket may
become your primary computer!

More info at

Jean Ichbiah