Logitech io Personal Digital Pen

  • Editors' rating
    7.5 Very good

Pros

  • Ideal for getting text and drawings into a computer
  • digitiser works well

Cons

  • You must work to the constraints of digital paper
  • battery life and memory capacity are limited
  • conversion to text requires additional software
  • pen is large and unwieldy to use

The io Personal Digital Pen from Logitech, which looks like a futuristically designed marker-pen, incorporates an optical sensor that captures your keystrokes. Software inside the pen digitises these, turning them into information a PC can understand and display. For the pen to work in this way, you have to write on special ‘digital paper’, although its ordinary ink cartridges allow you to write on standard paper too. The digital paper incorporates an irregular grid of tiny dots, and it’s these that allow the optical sensor in the pen to do its job.

Several types of digital paper are available. A digital notebook offers pages for general writing and pages for producing calendar and to-do entries; you also get a pad of digital ‘post-it’ notes. The pen ‘understands’ the functions of the different types of digital paper, and can act on the paper’s contents accordingly. Each A4 sheet in the provided notebook is divided into a number of standard sections. The largest is a general writing and drawing area, while at the top there’s an area designed for subject or keyword notation. Space is provided at the bottom for email addresses, and beneath this are check boxes to designate the page contents as email or a note. When setting up the desktop software, you tell it what applications you use for email, to-do items and calendaring. Then, information designated as these types is automatically dropped into the right application when you dock the pen with your PC using the provided USB cradle. Nothing on any page is digitised unless you check the ‘Done’ box relating to it. Logitech’s desktop software is a perfectly good organiser for digitised pages, and allows you to annotate and augment documents that have been pulled into it with typed text. These can then be stored, shunted off into emails, built into calendar and to-do entries, or saved to a range of document formats including DOC, GIF, JPG and TIF. The software also integrates with Microsoft Journal (supplied with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition) and OneNote 2003 (part of the Office 2003 family).

Performance

The io Personal Digital Pen performs well as far as transferring notes on paper to the computer is concerned. We created a number of emails, appointments and to-do items which sent themselves happily off to Outlook. We also transformed digitised documents into Word files to form part of larger documents, and saved other documents as images. All this worked without a hitch. Many will argue that the real advantage of the io Personal Digital Pen is its ability to transform handwriting into editable text. This is achieved via a third-party application called MyScriptNotes from Vision Objects. Logitech bundles a 30-day trial version; if you want to carry on using it after this expires, you’ll need to stump up another £30. Results here were mixed. Writing in our standard (relatively fast) way using cursive script, the quality of translation was poor. We had to slow down and form letters individually to get decent text conversion. Doing this produced usable results, but constrained our writing onto paper during meetings. For example, where we would normally use meaningful shorthand, we had to use longhand, and where we might normally scrawl knowing we’d recognise our own writing, we had to take more care to ensure maximum efficiency in converting to text later on. Both the concept -- developed several years ago by Swedish company Anoto -- and general execution of the io Personal Digital Pen are interesting, and there will certainly be markets for it. But the constraints could prove too many to allow it to become widely popular. The reliance on digital paper is likely to be a drawback in many office situations, while the pen itself is relatively large and unwieldy to use. The need to concentrate on what and how you write in meetings may also prove a nuisance to some people. Power and data storage on the pen itself could be an issue, too: according to Logitech, the pen has battery power for up to 25 pages of writing between recharges, and will store up to 40 A4 pages in its 1MB of available memory between downloads (at which point its memory can be automatically cleared).

Specifications

General
Device Type digital pen
Wireless Receiver USB wireless receiver
Power Device
Type power adapter
Input Device
Connectivity Technology wireless
Battery
Included 1
Software / System Requirements
Peripheral / Interface Devices CD-ROM, SVGA monitor
System Requirements
Min RAM Size 64 MB
Min Hard Drive Space 300 MB
OS Required Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP, Microsoft Windows 98/ME
Header
Brand Logitech
Product Line Logitech io
Model Personal Digital Pen
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Expansion Slots
Type none
Software
Type Drivers & Utilities, Microsoft Internet Explorer
Dimensions & Weight
Width 1.1 in
Depth 1.1 in
Height 6.9 in
Weight 1.87 oz
Service & Support
Type 2 years warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 2 years

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