A few months ago I accidentally dug up my old Newton circa 1997, and was amazed at (a) how tightly integrated and well designed the software and user interface was and (b) how good the handwriting recognition was. Someone had thought carefully about what you might want to do with the thing, and then built it to do that. It was the size of a VHS cassette, but made phenomenal use of the available hardware. And there was so much you could do with the stylus — entering an appointment took one stroke, not finger taps through many confirmatory menus.
I can only hope that the forthcoming Apple tablet will allow for handwriting recognition. There seem to be rumors along those lines.
You can find a pretty accurate video of the handwriting recognition at the four-minute-mark on the video at www.youtube.com…
I can vouch for the fact that my twelve-year-old model still recognizes my cursive.