Logitech io Personal Digital Pen. DAY ONE. A review in parts.

“The Logitech io Personal Digital Pen: It writes as well as any ballpoint, but also permanently records all your ideas, sketches, and notes in digital form on your PC.” – from the main Logitech io page

“Digital paper with Anoto functionality is created by printing a proprietary pattern of very small dots on ordinary paper that is perceived by the eye as a slightly off-white color. The dots have a nominal spacing of 0.3 mm (0.01 inch). As you write, the built-in digital camera in the pen continuously takes pictures of the patterned paper. Then, when you place the pen in its cradle, all of your writing is transferred automatically to your PC.” – from the Logitech io technology page

Though I love my Tungsten C, none of the PDAs I’ve owned(starting with the original Pilot 5000) has allowed me to, comfortably, take pages of notes in meetings. The ThinkOutside Stowaway keyboard for my Palm V came close, but I couldn’t draw diagrams, etc. And then…

After reading about the Logitech io “Digital Pen” on Daily Gadget, I knew I had to have one. On Sunday, I read every post on the Logitech io forums and ordered one that night. It arrived today.

This pen is 3 or 4 times thicker than a normal pen, but it is light. Also, I feel confident that the pen is durable, despite the fact that a tiny camera sits at the tip, next to the ballpoint pen tip.

The pen writes well. The refills are very small, though, and I expect that the ink will run out quickly. It comes with 5 refills and more are available online.

The io software is clunky(loading, restoring the window after minimize), but downloads from the pen are fast and trouble free. Within seconds, you can put your pen in the cradle and, if the software is already running, open the downloaded document.

So far, I’ve only tested writing on the included Post-It Notes. I’ll try using the included notebook tomorrow. All the text I wrote(I normally print and I was a little careful) converted to text successfully. Unfortunately, text chunks with a lot of space between them were treated as different blocks of text and could not be copied to the clipboard as one chunk of text. I expect that the OCR stuff will work a lot better with the notebook. Also, I drew a pie graph with 4 slices and the shape recognition failed miserably.

The MyScript software that converts pen input to text is an additional $40. The pen comes with a 30 day trial of that software. I wonder if there is a free solution out there for OCR of the “.pen” files.

The paper is a little expensive ($25 for 3 notebooks – 160 pages each), but it is available in a lot of different formats. Several statements on the forums indicate that some people have successfully photocopied the paper and used the copies. I tried that on the copier at work with notebook and post it paper. The dots showed up, but the pen wouldn’t record.

The pen itself was $158 at Amazon. It’ll be worth every penny if it means I can get rid of a few of the piles of notes on my desk.

System requirements
Windows® 98, Me, 2000, or XP
Pentium® II 233MHz,64MB minimum,128MB, 300MB of free disk space
Screen resolution of at least 800×600 and 256 colors
Internet access
Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.01 or later; Microsoft .NET framework (both included in box)
Available USB port
CD-ROM drive
Pre-printed paper (initial supply included)
Email support requires one of the following MAPI-compatible email clients:
Microsoft® Outlook® Express 5.0 and 6.0
Microsoft® Outlook® 97, 2000, and XP
Microsoft® Hotmail®
Lotus® Notes® 5.0 and above
Eudora® Mail 5.0 and above
Netscape® Mail 6.2 and above

Tomorrow, I’ll report on my first full day of note-taking with the pen.

Crossposted to PalmAddicts

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