E-Pens Mobile Notes Review Inverness
E-Pens Mobile Notes Review
While we all love our notebooks, there are many who prefer the feeling of pen on paper. E-Pens Mobile notes hopes to give you the best of both world’s by converting your written notes into editable text on your computer.
Open the well packaged box and you’ll find all the components neatly laid out. There is an installation CD, two inserts for the pen itself - an ink cartridge and a stylus, for use when in ‘mouse mode’ (see later)- two extremely small batteries, and a receiver for capturing and storing your notes.
The technology itself is quite sophisticated with the pen transmitting your hand movements to a receiver that is mounted to the top of your paper. The receiver, which also acts as a storage device, translates your hand movements into digital signals that can be transferred to your computer in real time, or at a later date.
Notes, drawings, etchings, and doodles are converted into digital format by an intelligent character recognition (ICR) programme called Myscript. Once the conversion is complete, your electronically morphed handwriting can be either saved, edited, or deleted. Once on your computer, the converted notes are saved in Mobile Notes Note Manager software, and from here they can be exported into a word processor such as Microsoft Word.
Unfortunately, testing didn’t go as smoothly as it could have done - the e-pen isn’t Mac compatible for a start. Nevertheless, once a PC was located, we got straight back to it - albeit, rather disappointed by the device’s secular platform range.
The installation process itself proved quite tiresome, and we experienced some major problems when attempting to install the Myscript and Mobile Notes software - downloads, plug-ins and a lot of patience were all required at this point.
However, the most notable annoyance is that Mobile Notes requires Internet Explorer to be set as your default web browser before you can begin doing anything. This would be all well and good if 46 per cent of PC owners didn’t use either Mozilla, Safari or another browser, but unfortunately they do, which is a big design flaw that really should have been addressed during the development stages.
You will additionally require the latest version of Flash to view the tutorial videos. However, it is worth persevering with as the videos - once you get past the lo-fi production - are very informative, and take you step-by-step through everything you need to know.
On paper (excuse the pun), the idea behind Mobile Notes is brilliant, with the time saving aspects of the technology the primary advantage. For instance, you only need to make notes once, either in or out of the office, and they can then be sent directly to your word processor, removing the need for rewriting or retyping reams of notes, making it an attractive technology for professionals whose line of work involves extensive note taking.
However, in our tests we found that the device is far from 100 per cent effective at converting handwriting into electronic text format – it turned out to be actually more like 60 per cent. This means that once you have text exported from the receiver/storage unit, you have to spend time, correcting mistakes where letters have become lost or changed in conversion.
In terms of functionality, the device has two modes. One is Connected - for real-time work, either in the office, or when you can connect directly to your PC. The second is Mobile, for when you can’t get to a PC, and your notes are stored in the receiver/storage unit for uploading at a later point.
When in connected mode, the pen can work in two ways: pen mode or mouse mode. Pen mode is meant to let you capture in real time, and mouse mode makes the pen act like a mouse. To swap between the two modes, you simply tap the pen twice near the receiver/storage unit, enabling you in theory to have the best of both worlds.
In practice, this wasn’t the case - the pen would not switch between modes, no matter how many times we tapped it near the receiver/storage unit. So, while connected, we could only use the device in mouse mode, meaning we couldn’t do extensive testing of Mobile Notes real-time performance.
Furthermore, the pen mode proved very hard to control as the pen is not a good substitute for a conventional mouse. Put simply, it’s excessively sensitive, and is very time consuming.
Fortunately, in mobile mode the device really comes into its own. Throughout testing we tried a number of different handwriting styles, and while Mobile Notes conversion isn’t 100 per cent accurate, it’s still impressive. Once some of the flaws are ironed out we can definitely see the potential.
As an application simply for note taking, where 100 per cent accuracy isn’t always an absolute necessity, Mobile Notes is an extremely useful tool, particularly since you can edit the text once it has been uploaded to your PC.
Also, the storage/receiver unit is very portable, being roughly the size of a USB stick, which attaches to the top of your paper. This portability, combined with Mobile Notes ability to convert your saved notes into text on your computer is certainly a strong point, eradicating the need for re-writing, which will inevitably save time for some professionals. However, overall this is not enough to save the device, unfortunately, with the issues we had meaning that the cons exceed the pros.
Author: Richard Goodwin