Imagine having a notepad with the ability to transfer what you've written on paper directly into your Windows operating system? What a remarkable convenience that would be. ACECAD makes it all possible with this DigiMemo A501! The A501 is a stand-alone device with storage capability that digitally captures and stores everything you write or draw with ink on ordinary paper, without the use of computer and special paper. Then you can easily view, edit, organize and share your handwritten notes in Windows. Imagine that.
- Versatile digital note tablet for storing handwritten notes electronically
- Easily view, edit, organize, and share handwritten notes in Windows
- Instantly and digitally records notes, ideas, sketches, drawings, and flowcharts without scanning
- Manages up to 999 digital pages on 35 MB storage device
- Notepad weighs only 1.24 pounds
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 3 inches ; 3 pounds
- Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds
- Shipping: This item is also available for shipping to select countries outside the U.S.
- ASIN: B0009OD4CS
- Item model number: 692
- Date first available at Amazon.com: September 14, 2004
Works as advertised – light inexpensive alternative to laptop in the field
So far I am cautiously pleased. DM works as advertised. The unit is light, the pen comfortable in the hand, and writing is faithfully recorded.. The image on the computer screen is a faithful representation of the page (occasionally small strokes are missed),
The software interface for dumping pages on the PC is acceptable – it could be smoother but works without any glitches or major hassles. Actually, I rarely used it, since most of my uploading is done directly to the Hwr recognition program (more below). It is surprisingly good a recognizing tables as tables/spreadsheets.
For me, this unit would be largely useless without HWR. I found that Myscript does a surprisingly good job of reading my scrawl (it is a scrawl – my handwriting is terrible, I often print more than write, but found it reads script about as well as printing). If you write neatly the whole process is much easier.
Myscript is particularly useful if you 1) use the built in training program (helped some) and 2) create lists of words (“Personal Lexicon”) and shorthand conversions (“Auto replacements”). The former is good to aid recognition of specialized and technical terms, names, etc. The latter is the most useful feature, though. With it you can create an entire shorthand (“&” becomes “and” “sy” becomes “Sincerely Yours” etc.). Best of all, I discovered an undocumented feature. Instead of entering shorthands or lexicon words one at a time you can simply open the .txt file (“Autoreplacements.txt” and “lexicon.txt” in the Myscript folder) and enter these wholesale. I now have hundreds. The handwritten “Wed td” at the top of a page comes out as “Wednesday To Do List.”
My old Newton learned from corrections, so it became increasingly accurate. Myscript doesn’t (I asked – the nice people who answer my emails told me that it is trickier to implement than I suspect). People do learn though, so what happens to me – and I’m sure most people – is that my own style adapts to what the system has shown it can recognize. People are good continual improvement machines.
This is not the ultimate system. The paper size is too small for some uses (unlike some reviewers, though, I have found 6X9 pads easy to find at drug or office supply stores). It would be nice if the system had a video out and/or drawing table functionality. The more expensive Cyberpad takes 8.5″ X 11″ paper and serves as a tablet, I am told, and the Acecad folks indicated that the next version of Digimemo (“out soon”) will also.
The batteries really do last a long time (100 hours as advertised seems about right). It would be nice if the lcd screen on the clipboard did more than show if a page is written or blank, but thast feels like niggling.
This is a very good device but not all people or purposes. This is not for you if you need HWR but aren’t willing to spend time making it work. But…if you hate taking out a laptop in meetings or classrooms, if you are disorganized and like having your written notes together in one place, if you need to draw something and shoot it off in an email (the ability to connect to mobile web for this would be a killer app for DM), if you need to take notes while standing or walking and don’t want to have to re-type them all, then this may be a great device for you.
A very nice device for everyone
The product actually looks and feels a lot better than its picture projects. The operation is very easy and straightforward.
The notepad is the standard 6×9 (the actual writing size is a bit smaller: 5.9×8.3; but who cares?), available almost everywhere. (I bought a 200-page writing pad 6×9 from Stop & Shop for $4.00. I’m sure less expensive ones are available elsewhere.)
The built-in memory card allows for at least 160 pages before the memory is full. With CF card so cheap nowadays, one can easy get a separte card to use.
Battery life (4 AAA) is 100 hr. I think it’s a very good deal overall. If you are thinking of getting a tablet PC to do digital hand-writing, this one should be better in that regard, since it’s much lighter and less expensive.
1) Despite that the software is very nice, it does not do OCR. As a result, your handwriting cannot be converted later into a text file. Although personally I don’t think it’s a big deal, it would be the software could do that, given today’s OCR technology.
1) It doesn’t come with a protective case. For something like that, you really cannot treat it like a $4 pad. It would be nice if it comes with a leather case we can put it in and carry it around. But I guess one can get one portfolio to deal with that.
Does what it says, mostly
–It records my handwriting and doodles just fine.
–The right size pads are available at every Office Depot
–Refills for the ink are easily available (Cross pen refills).
–battery sizes are pretty standard, too.
–It is a cinch to open up single pages straight from the hard drive by clicking on them, and you can open an entire set of pages with the software and export them as one single PDF file.
–Any program that will import a pdf or tif can use the exported pages, including OneNote. I have quite good results importing images into Word and annotating there, too.
–The pen does not feel cheaply lightweight (as do the styli for notebook computers), nor is it excessively large or clunky. It does not feel like a quality writing instrument, of course, but it’s quite comfortable to use.
–the page images record lines, which are annoying — they do not correspond to the lines on the pad, and my writing is invariably askew on the image even if it is perfectly straight on the page.
–The OCR software is about 85% accurate with my scribble even after “training”, and considerable editing effort would be required to make a printout presentable. Since the OCR software costs as much as the device itself, I will not be upgrading after the trial.
–After decades of keyboarding, I actually CAN’T write well with good pressure and clarity with a ball point cartridge without causing writers cramps. Until they invent a roller ball model, I guess my hand muscles just have to be in training.
–From the promotional website, it seemed that the software would help you organize your notes. It does not — it just lets you highlight or annotate the notes and save them as “ebooks” or image files. Exporting to OneNote is a better way to go
–The pen will almost certainly get lost — the place to attach it to the device is less than secure — and new ones are pricey at $26.00
Summary: When used in conjunction with Acrobat and OneNote, this seems to be a valuable addition to my box of tools and it is far from the most expensive peripheral I have.
One more thing: I debated whether to get the 692 or the larger pad. Although the paper size is smallish, the 692 total dimensions resemble those of a standard notepad and I really think anything larger would be awkward. You can fill the entire 692 pad, quite literally from edge to edge, and this gives quite a bit of writing surface.
The price is right if you also get the handwriting recognition software. With that this device can substitute a tablet PC if your main concern is taking notes in a digital format. The downside is that you still need physical paper but you get what you pay for. You do get the benefit of leaving the tablet safe and sound at your desk.
The best thing for is that the device works like a CF card reader when it connects to the PC. Why is this so good? Not only can I use it for backup purposes but it will also work on my linux machines and should work on apple machines as well. You can’t read the notes without the Acecad software but that can be solved with special software like wine, cedega, vmware and win4lin for linux; and parallels and bootcamp for apple machines.