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Gadget Reviewio2 Digital Writing System

By Kailas Narendran
STAFF COLUMNIST

Pros

• Unparalleled convenience in digital note-taking

• Extremely flexible

Cons

• Overly large

• Doesn’t fit comfortably in hand

The Lowdown

The io2 Digital Writing System is an incredible technology that brings analog notetaking into the digital age. What looks like a medium point Sharpie is actually a sophisticated tool, capable of recording all your pen strokes, as long as you use a special stationery. You can download up to 40 pages of notes to your computer at a time for storage as either handwriting or converted text or pictures.

Incredipen

I completed an undergraduate education at MIT, and like many other graduates, I have almost 100 pounds worth of paper notes, bibles, and the like to prove it. They have moved with me from apartment to apartment, in and out of storage, and now to my office, where they currently ensure the floor doesn’t fly away. One thing they’re not doing, however, is making me smarter. Trying to find anything is like looking for Schr dinger’s cat. To this day, I still can’t keep track of paper notes; writing anything down during a meeting is just a recipe for disappointment. That’s why I love this product: it seems to be the only talisman capable of lifting the curse of paper and pen.

Write Away

Using this product is intuitive, as both the hardware and software are well-designed. Everything works out of the box as expected, and you can be up and writing in only a few minutes. As you write on special stationery (purchased through Logitech), the pen scans the surface of the paper. Imprinted on the surface is a superfine dot pattern that tells the pen the type of stationery, the page number, and the exact location on the page you are writing.

Once you have written to your heart’s content, you simply drop the pen in its cradle, and the pages are downloaded to the io2 software. In the software, you have the option to export the handwriting to e-mail, Word documents, OneNote files, etc. In addition, the pen is bundled with MyScript, an excellent handwriting recognition program.

Once the handwriting from the pen has been imported into MyScript, you can convert handwriting to text, or even drawings. I found the accuracy of the software amazingly good. The secret seems to lie in the fact that instead of simply using an image of your handwriting, the pen actually records your strokes, providing a wealth of information about the letter you are writing.

I tested it with print, cursive, and a mix, without going through the training process. It thoroughly amazed me; I achieved a general hit rate of about 80 percent or higher, even when I included mathematical formulas. The drawing conversion is great for creating flowcharts, and converting scribbled boxes and arrows into professional looking line-art.

Options

There is also an io Personal Digital Pen, which seems to be the same as the io2, without the handwriting recognition, and in a slightly larger packaging. That does come at a $100 price break.

The Bottom Line

Jumping on this bandwagon will set you back about $200. Given that the only other option for digital notetaking is a $1,500 tablet PC, this is definitely the way to start. The stationery for the pen, in its cheapest form, is about $0.03 per page with 150 pages per notepad. Even if you don’t go for this product, I would definitely recommend Logitech stock, as their steady stream of kick-ass gadgets has never failed to impress. You can find out more about the pen at http://www.logitech.com/.