Pegasus Mobile NoteTaker
Neat idea - shame about the price?
Review For many people, my mum included, it's still easier to organise life with a pen and paper rather than a notebook, PDA or smart phone. There is still something more immediate about being able to grab a pen and a scrap of paper and to scribble. There's no boot up, no need to be able to touch type and for the great majority of us our drawing skills remain far superior with a pencil than with a mouse, writes Gordon Kelly.
Step forward Pegasus, a company that believes it has come up with a way to bridge the gap. Its answer is the Mobile NoteTaker, a portable device designed to store handwritten data so it can be transferred to a computer at a later date. The concept consists of an electronic pen with real ink and a memory unit with a monochrome LCD display and 2MB (50 page) memory that, when positioned above the writing surface, records all strokes on its scrolling screen. The effect is twofold, while you're making real world written notes a virtual copy of every mark you make is being recorded.
For good measure, the Mobile NoteTaker can also be plugged directly into a PC allowing handwritten notes to be made within Microsoft Office documents and emails. So far so good, but I'm going to jump straight to it rather than lead you on, because the theory is way better than the practice.
To begin with the equipment feels cheap. The pen is bulbous, not particularly comfortable to hold and has a scratchy writing head. The memory unit likewise is chunky at 10.7 x 6.5 x 1.9cm, weighing 90g. It's like carrying a second mobile phone around. Continuing the theme, the keypad and on/off switch are wobbly and have too much travel on the buttons. At a glance, the whole package reminds me of those free gifts you see advertised on the front of stationery catalogues.
Next up, the pen takes three SR41 batteries and the memory unit two AAA which seems a little excessive. There's no way to measure the pen's remaining battery life. On the plus side there is very little set up required beyond switching the memory unit on and writing with the pen, but while the LCD scrolls around admirably to map the pen's movements around the page its graphics are blocky and joined up writing is impossible to read. There are also very few options within the memory units itself. Capture, browse existing captures, set date, screen contrast, sound options, and memory status are the sole commands and it is impossible to get out of some menus from the keypad, meaning you must push the pen nib into the first of five command shortcut pin holes at the front of the unit to get back to the root menu.