IRISnotes Executive 1.0 digital pen

Knows your writes

Executive treatment

The IRISNotes Executive app acts as a document management/text-recognition tool allowing you to organise your documents into binders, and OCR them into text (in 21 languages - or more if for instance count US, GB and Canadian as separate languages). The recognition software can handle printed, capitalised, or normal handwriting styles, and prior to recognition you can also specify specific areas on the page that you want the software to recognise as drawings.

IRISnotes Executive 1.0

The Irisnotes app offers OCR to convert scrawl to text

It can then render your sketches, à la Newton, into nicely squared-up drawings (although it did have trouble with my version of a datastore symbol). Even after recognition it stores both the handwritten and text version of your documents, which you can view side by side. You can then export your documents as RTF, SVG, or in a raster image format - png, jpeg, bitmap.

Amazingly, it pretty much works as advertised, out of the box. And after several weeks of testing, I’m still using it in anger, and it really does simplify the note-taking and specification capture process of the sort I do in my day job. The pen seems quite robust, and I haven’t had to change the small-looking refill unit or watch batteries that power it yet.

A couple of caveats: the unit uses two sensors that need direct line-of-sight to the pen tip, so if you have a tendency to curve your hand to stop the boy at the next desk from cribbing, you’ll need to adjust the way you grip the pen. It also features a mouse button, and when the receiver is attached to your machine it can be used as one. On my Mac, this is extremely irritating, so I generally tend to leave the unit connected in order to recharge overnight, rather than deal with a wandering cursor at work.

IRISnotes Executive 1.0

Diagrams can be refined Newton-style

One other source of irritation - the IRISNotes Executive app eschews standard Mac or PC look and feel in favour of its own bamboo jungle look. Perhaps this is an attempt to hide it’s cross-platform Java roots, but it would be nice to be able to turn it off.

Verdict

The IRISnotes Executive 1.0 passes the Ronseal test: it’s great for saving you from transcribing pages of handwritten notes, but the software interface could use some serious redecoration, and it lacks the audio functionality of the LiveScribe. ®

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IRISnotes Executive 1.0

IRISnotes Executive 1.0 digital pen

Digitally captures pen movements – without the need for special paper – for transfer to computer and OCR conversion.
Price: £127 RRP