When I started studying at HSR I’ve decided that I want to store all my notes digitally and only use as little paper as possible. Of course a laptop is the most obvious choice and for most classes that works fine. But there are some classes where it’s easier to use paper, for example when writing math formulas or drawing quick sketches.
The problem is.. once you’ve written on paper you either have to keep the papers in a folder or digitalise them one way or another. The downside of a folder is.. it takes physical space and the downside of digitalising is it takes a lot of time to do properly. But there’s a third way:
The IRIS Notes 2 Express Pen
IRIS Note 2 consists of two parts. A black ballpoint pen and a small receiver box that you can clip on top of your notepad. The pen itself is powered by two small button-batteries and the receiver-box is rechargeable per USB and it can store up to 100 pages of A4 sized notes. This may seem like an artificial limit.. but really you’re gonna run out of juice long before you reach 100 A4 pages, so it’s more then enough storage.
How it works
The pen sends a sonic signal out when it is pressed onto the paper (while writing), this signal is received by the small black box and it calculates the position of the pen on the paper. For notes this works really wonderful and it’s astonishing accurate. Once you’ve reached the end of a page you simply press the button on the receiver-box and it starts recording a new page. Of course the receiver also has a small display that shows how many notes are already stored.
The pen uses standard ballpoint-parts, so you can replace them once the four that come bundled with pen are empty.
Once you’re out of juice or want to export your notes to your computer you can connect the receiver to your computer through a usb-cable. To export your notes a software called “Easy Note Taker” is included.. though while it does the essential functions well it looks and feels a bit outdated on a modern pc. It has some semblance of a note-organizer but personally I prefer to export the notes as picture-file and then store them in Evernote.
The one thing that I’ve found nice about “easy note taker” is that it allows you to edit the raw data of your notes.. so if you wrote something wrong you can just select those letters, lines etc. and delete them right out of the note.
There are also two “additional” features that I haven’t mentioned yet. I write “additional” because I don’t really use them on a regular basis.. so you’ll have to judge yourself if they’re important for you.
For one thing you can also use the pen in a “mouse-mode” while the receiver is connected to your PC. So you can directly see on the screen what you’re writing on paper. I’ve found this to be somewhat laggy and since I already own a real graphic tablet there’s not much use for me there.
Then there’s also software for handwriting-recognition included in the bundle, but again since I mainly use this pen for math I haven’t really tested that software extensively. If you’re really interested into the handwriting-recognition you may want to Google some more to see if it’s any good.
The IRIS Note 2 Express pen is a great product and I’d recommend it for everyone who wants to take notes digitally while not losing the flexibility of writing on paper. It’s astonishingly accurate and performs very well so far. However it also has some shortcomings. For example it would have been nice if the software had an option to directly export note into Evernote (after all the product is advertised as Evernote compatible). Also it’s kind of annoying that they don’t offer their software for download.. since my laptop doesn’t have a CD drive I had to copy it onto my desktop first.. which is not a huge problem but in 2012 you would expect all companies to offer drivers for download (also if you end up losing the CD or breaking it).
But overall those are some minor issues and for the price of 109CHF or about 99$ it’s well worth to pick one of those pens up.