I had the opportunity over the past couple of weeks to try out the
Adesso CyberPad, a device that records your
handwritten notes and sketches and allows you to import them to your PC. If this sounds Tablet-like, it is. Think of
the CyberPad as a distant cousin to the full digital ink experience offered by a Tablet PC.
The CyberPad, physically, resembles a clipboard with a small LCD display and a row of buttons running down one edge. It uses plain paper, unlike the Logitech IO pen and other handwriting capture systems which require the use of special (and rather expensive) paper that uses a metallic grid printed on the surface to track the pen's position as you write. That's a huge advantage over time.
Adesso has put together a nice package. In addition to the CyberPad clipboard, the system includes a high quality leather (or at least leather-like) zippered portfolio, the special pen (which uses standard ink refills and runs on a single AAA battery - also included), a battery recharger for the included 4 AAA batteries that power the CyberPad, and a nice collection of software including EverNote, RiteMail (which provides the ink to text conversion capability), tools for using ink in Office documents and PowerPoint presentations, and a photo editing and painting application.
At first, that last software package might seem to be a curious choice but itís not. Thatís because the CyberPad can
also be used as a graphics tablet for your PC. You simply swap the ballpoint pen nib for a plastic tip, removed the
paper pad from the clipboard, and use the CyberPad surface a big drawing and navigation pad.
The CyberPad has 32 MB of built-in memory, sufficient to hold approximately 150 pages of notes. It also incudes a SD card slot for virtually unlimited storage. The CyberPad connects to your PC via USB for data transfer and when using it as a graphics tablet. It can also, in a pinch, be used as a removable drive to transfer files from one PC to another. Given the current commodity price for USB thumb drives, this is more of a convenience than a major benefit.
I used the CyberPad to capture notes at a Microsoft Partner event I attended and in the training class I attended last week and it performed flawlessly. The notes I took were easily converted into text files or transferred to the clipboard for pasting into another application. The batteries life was excellent - after a full day of use I still had more than 50% left on the battery meter and the AAA batteries charge in about an hour in the included charger. Adesso claims 20+ hours of writing time or 68 hours of stanby time from a single charge.
The CyberPad retails for $199.00. OK - itís not a Tablet PC. But it is a versatile, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive way to add digital ink to your work. I think it would make an outstanding gift for a student.