Since the beginning of time I’ve been searching for a device to replace paper. The problem with paper is that I use a lot of it. A whole lot of it. For performing a quick calculation, jotting down some notes, making a quick sketch etc., paper is the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to get that done. But there are several problems with paper.
Paper occupies physical space. I have so much paper lying around everywhere in the form of notebooks and refills and random scraps of paper it’s crazy.
That brings me to another problem. Managing all of this paper. One can form only so many stacks and each stack can only be so high. The result is that I can never find anything and I just have to dispose of the older stuff. It’s all quite depressing.
A few years back, I got the HP iPaq 211 PDA. That was my first serious paper replacement contender. With a 4″ resistive touch screen that has a 640×480 resolution and Windows Mobile 6.0 , I thought it was perfect. I got the ultimate writing app too – PhatPad (shown below).
Soon I realised it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. While it is very responsive, the screen size, 4 inches, is just too small for writing stuff. You will notice also that the edges of the screen are raised creating a barrier around it that shrinks the writing space even more. The app is also pretty slow when it comes to flipping pages and awkward when changing colors or undoing something. The same goes for other apps too. It does have character recognition software that can turn written notes into text but that’s not the point. So the iPaq didn’t deliver what I was looking for.
Then Apple announced the iPad. As soon as I heard the iPad was coming, I knew I had to get one. I thought the iPad combined with a stylus would be the combo I’ve been waiting for. I have most of the popular and not so popular notes apps on the market. From Penultimate to Noterize to Note Taker HD to Note Hub to Use Your Handwriting Gold (UYH Gold). I got ’em all. Of the 500+ apps that I have installed on my iPad, a good number of them have something to do with notes. I also got a capacitive stylus early on. Unfortunately, although the apps are top notch, the accuracy of a capacitive screen/stylus is really low. These devices are designed for finger use and not for pen input. I use the Apple wireless keyboard more than I do the stylus now.
I believe the solution is finally upon us. The NoteSlate is it. Here’s a break down of the features:
– REAL PAPER look design (pictured at the top of the page)
– ONE COLOR display (Optional multi-color display?)
– ONE TOUCH ability just with pen / eraser
– 210x310x6mm thin body
– 13 inch matte monochrome eInk display
– 190x270mm active display, 750x1080pixels
– 180 hours battery life (almost 3 weeks of daily work !)
– 280 g weight !
– basic inputs: pen with eraser, USB mini, SD Card, Jack 3.5 mm, AC/DC 12V
– Wi-Fi module on request with order (no added charge (!))
– no web browsing !
– end price $99
– ONE POINT OF SALE – NoteSlate online e-store
The highlights are 3 weeks battery life and the 13″ e-ink display. It’s flat like a paper notebook with no raised edges. It runs custom software so it’s probably not going to have performance issues. If you’ve seen e-ink eBook readers like the Kindle or the Kobo reader, you can appreciate the quality that e-ink technology offers. It’s very close to paper quality clarity. That, together with a stylus and high screen sensitivity and accuracy can make for the ultimate paper replacement.
This thing is not like the feature rich tablets that we have today. It’s bare-bones simple yet powerful. The perfect paper replacement. Lets just hope it doesn’t remain vapourware. It’s set for release in June 2011.