Many note takers today must lug a laptop everywhere or write everything down by hand and then manually enter their notes into a computer. The Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe is an innovative alternative: an ink pen with a digital component.

The Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe comes with a receiver, and it saves everything you write to plain paper as a digital file. When you plug the receiver into a Windows PC, the device lets you upload your handwritten notes and convert them into text documents via the bundled My Script Notes 2.1 Lite optical character recognition (OCR) software.

You can use the Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe while the receiver is not connected to your PC and then upload what you've written when you're back at your computer. Or you can use it while the receiver is connected to your computer, watching on screen as it captures your scribbles in real time.

Another option, when the Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe is hooked up to your PC, is to swap in the included inkless cartridge and use the pen as a stylus mouse. The receiver (which is about the size of an old pager) connects to your computer via an included USB cable. It saves up to 50 notes at a time; three small clips on the back of the receiver let you attach it to the piece of paper or notepad you plan to write on.

The Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe pen itself uses standard ink cartridges; however, whenever its tip meets the paper, the receiver senses the pressure. In our tests it captured everything we wrote, as long as we pressed down.

The biggest weakness of the Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe package is its bundled OCR app. My Script Notes 2.1 Lite did a less-than-stellar job of converting handwritten notes into text documents. After we uploaded our digitised handwritten notes and launched My Script, the converted text usually came out garbled and had inappropriate paragraph breaks.

Having to remember to press the receiver's lone button every time you move the Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe on to another page can try your patience. In the real world, switching to a new sheet of paper leaves no doubt that you're done with the preceding sheet; but in the digital realm, failing to signal leads to writing over notes that you took earlier. And of course the overwriting further confuses the OCR software.

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Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe: Specs

  • USB 1.1 and 2.0 compliant
  • requires: Microsoft Windows® 2000, XP or Vista, Minimum 128MB RAM, 50MB available hard disk space, Minimum 32-bit colour quality, Office XP, 2003 or 2007, USB Port
  • USB 1.1 and 2.0 compliant
  • requires: Microsoft Windows® 2000, XP or Vista, Minimum 128MB RAM, 50MB available hard disk space, Minimum 32-bit colour quality, Office XP, 2003 or 2007, USB Port

OUR VERDICT

At £99, the Iogear Mobile Digital Scribe may be a bit too pricey for casual buyers, which is a shame. Seeing what you write on a piece of paper appear on your PC's screen is more gratifying — and mind-boggling — than it might sound.

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