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Copy and paste from paper to PC

First INQpressions ACECAD DigiMemo A402
Thu Nov 30 2006, 17:09
THE DIGIMEMO A402 is a smart clipboard that allows you to transfer your scribblings from pen and paper to ones and zeroes.

In the box you'll find the clipboard, pad of paper, pen, batteries, CD, USB cable and manuals.


The clipboard itself is fairly simple, the front is rather obviously dominated by the paper, with a clip at the top to hold it in place, much like clipboards of yore, the new fangled bit is the display and five buttons down the side. The buttons handle power, page up and down, delete page and new blank page.


On the back of the board you'll find a battery and cartridge compartment containing two replacement ink cartridges and one plastic pen tip. The board runs on four standard AAA batteries. Along the top you'll find a mini USB port for connecting to a PC and on the right hand side you'll find a slot for adding an SD Card for extra memory. The board itself has 32 MB of memory and can store up to 999 pages on both the onboard and SD memory.


The display is quite informative for such a small LCD, providing info current page number, whether the page is blank or contains writing, which memory source you are using and memory status, time, battery information and whether the board is currently receiving input. Incidentally the board recognises that it is receiving input when the pen is nearby and the nib is pressed in. During testing I did have one or two cases where the virtual pen thought it was somewhere different from the actual pen, but this may well have been something I did.

Using the DigiMemo is very straightforward, essentially you switch it on and start writing. The board remembers the last page number you were on. In the manual it suggests marking each new page with its corresponding digital page number, which is an excellent idea as it can be very easy to get confused otherwise. If you're starting a new page, you can scroll through the pages or just hit the 'New Page' button which will jump to the next available page number. About the only vaguely complicated bit is remembering to change the page number if you're flicking backwards and forwards between pages, but it doesn't take long before you get used to it.

Uploading your notes is just as easy, you plug the board into your PC and Windows detects the new device and treats it like any other removable storage device, such a USB thumb drive, creating a new drive letter from which to access the data. From there you can use the DigiMemo manager software, which comes on the CD, to import, export and edit your documents.


On the CD is also a 30 day trial of ACECAD's MyScript Notes program, which does handwriting recognition. If you have both programs installed you can just click the icon in the manager program to open that page in MyScript for conversion.

Frankly I'm very disappointed that only a trial version is included in the package, it would be better if a full version was included as I would consider the conversion into actual text a vital part of the reason most people would own this product. The coversion software itself is not too bad, but you have bad handwriting like this hack, you'll spend as much time fixing up the incorrectly converted parts as you will just retyping from your notes. With extended use I'm sure you'd be able to find a good style that is fast and still legible to the software.


If you're worried about losing the pen, which of course renders the entire thing useless, you have two options, to attach the pen using the small holes at the top of the clipboard and the pen, or to buy the extra portfolio, which is probably the option most business sorts will go for.

In short
The DigiMemo A402 is very simple to use, and if A4 isn't the right size for you then ACECAD also sell the DigiMemo series in other models L2 (Letter), A502 (A5) and 692 (6"x9"). The biggest problem I see is that of practicality, I really battle to think of people for whom this would be worth spending around £100 on.

If you needed to distribute your notes around and they didn't need to be typed up, or if the person who types up your notes is not usually near by, then this may be a great idea. A sketch artist might also find this a useful tool being more versatile than a standard tablet, but I'm not sure there is enough precision and the lack of colour and style options may be limiting in this sense. ? L'INQ
DigiMemo Product Line


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