Product review: DigiMemo L2/A402

24 Apr 2007

After a staff meeting or brainstorming session I often find myself with a handful of refill pages full of my scribbling. Generally I retype everything or spend a while scanning them in, both fairly time-consuming tasks.

The DigiMemo L2/A402 digital notepad by Acecad looks to be a pleasing alternative. It is a lightweight device that resembles a clipboard with the addition of a USB connection, memory card slot and a few buttons on the side.

If you lug a laptop to a lecture or meeting purely for taking notes when you know you won’t need to access programs or the internet, then this DigiMemo pad is a handy option.

It was quick and easy to set up. I slotted in the batteries at the back, stuck in a few pages of A4 notepaper under the clip and started writing with the accompanying Acecad pen. This ink pen also incorporates a sensor, so only writing from this pen is picked up on the DigiMemo. The flashing pen icon displayed on the tiny LCD screen on the left hand side of the writing pad reassures you that all is going well.

Unfortunately only the DigiMemo pen can be used with the writing pad and the price for a refill is pretty steep, at €19.99 a pop.

Do remember after each page you fill to not only insert a fresh sheet of paper but also to hit the down button on the DigiMemo to turn a fresh digital leaf too, otherwise you’ll end up with a mess of layered writing. Also, only clip on two or three sheets at a time because the pad sensor might not pick up the pen movements through a thick layer.

The DigiMemo has a built-in memory of 32MB so it will hold 999 digital pages, according to the manufacturer. As I didn’t have time to test this claim, I’ll take its word for it. The memory slot on the side takes an SD card also.

Meanwhile, in order to transfer your writing to a computer the accompanying software must be installed. Make sure to turn off the DigiMemo before hooking it up via USB. There are two different ways to handle your writing. First, Acecad DigiMemo Manager displays your writing, which can then be saved as an ebook and printed or emailed. DigiMemo Manager also has some tools for basic editing such as inserting a text box, highlighting, changing the colour of your writing and adding in some new handwriting from your computer.

This program is nothing in comparison to what the handwriting-recognition software can do. MyScript Notes learns to interpret your handwriting with a little help from you. On your DigiMemo pad you write out the alphabet, numbers, symbols and some sample sentences in cursive, as suggested by MyScript Trainer. Then hook up the DigiMemo to you computer, and your page of sample handwriting is used to teach the program how to accurately interpret your individual writing style.

I found that before I even did this training session MyScript Notes was fairly accurate at picking up my writing, more so when I used block capitals. As a journalist I noticed that it could also be trained to read my personal shorthand. I was able to tell the program to interpret some of my bizarre squiggles as certain words by re-labelling my sample words and letters with what I wanted them to represent. As with any handwriting recognition software, the more examples you give it, the more accurate it will become. Shapes, tables and diagrams also can be converted into print.

MyScript notes, however, only comes with the DigiMemo L2/A402 as a trial version, so I felt somewhat cheated when I learned that I had to part with another €49.99 after my 30 days.

The DigiMemo also works as a standard tablet device in Windows. When connected to the computer, turn it sideways and it can be used as a horizontal writing area in all Windows applications. You don’t have to use paper with it, just put the cap on the digital pen and move it across the plastic surface.

Price: €169

Pros: Great handwriting-recognition software
Cons: Expensive add-ons

By Marie Boran