Boogie Board Rip Hands On Review

Boogie Board RipThe Boogie Board Rip from Improv Electronics is an electronic clipboard that will save handwritten notes and drawings to Adobe‘s .pdf format for later transfer to a PC via USB. You draw or write with the included stylus on the pressure-sensitive 9.5″ dark monochrome LCD screen, which results in light coloured lines and writing.  When you want to save your work, you simply press the “Save” button at the top. To start over, the “Erase” button wipes the screen. It’s that easy.

Here’s a few scribblings and the complementary .pdf. I’m no artist. That’s an A4 notebook behind it for scale.

Improv Electronics Boogie Board Rip

Improve Electronics Boogie Board Rip PDF

I’m not sure exactly how the stylus and the screen work together to record the image as any stylus can be used to write on the screen, but only writing from the included stylus will be recorded in the saved .pdf. Sometimes, I found that I wasn’t pressing hard enough for all the lines to be recorded; if you look at the picture of the hedgehog, you’ll see that the drawing is much spikier than the .pdf. This was an early trial picture and you get used to pressing that little bit more firmly.

Boogie Board Rip Hedgehog

Boogie Board Rip Hedgehog PDF

The internal memory is only 8 MB but this is sufficient for around 200 .pdfs. Getting the .pdfs off the device is simple – just connect up via micro USB and the Rip appears as an external drive. I had no problems connecting it up to both Windows and Linux machines. The Rip has an internal rechargeable battery which charges via the USB and lasts ages – the manufacturer suggests a week of normal use and I can see no reason to disagree.

I found the Rip to be a great partner for tools such as Evernote. I could take notes in a meeting and then transfer the notes into Evernote, creating a chronological record of meetings and discussion. Personally, I was looking for a simple paper notebook replacement that was a relatively cheap and robust, and nowhere near as expensive as a full tablet.

In the end, I had mixed feelings about the Rip. It does what it does well, but it’s not the complete package that I need it to be for the Rip to replace my A4 notebook.

First, the 9.5″ screen is too small. Being used to A4 notebooks, I struggled with the narrower page and often used the Rip in landscape mode rather than portrait to get extra width.  If you are a Moleskine person, more used to the A5 format, it will perhaps be less of an issue but I look forward to a larger screen.

Second, the “resolution” of the screen and stylus combination isn’t detailed or fine enough. When I write with my normal handwriting, it’s difficult to read the writing on the screen because the lines are quite broad. As a result, I have to write larger which compounds the small screen issue. To be fair, the saved .pdf does record the handwriting accurately so perhaps I just need to get over the display and rely on the .pdf.

Boogie Board Rip Handwriting

Boogie Board Rip Handwriting PDF

I admit that I have specific needs so I would also emphasise the Rip’s good points.

First it’s very easy to use. There are two buttons, “Erase” and “Save / Wake” and when you do press the buttons, the device responds almost instantly. There’s no PIN or password to enter.

Second, it’s lightweight with little difference between it and a paper notebook.

Third, the saving of drawing and notes straight to a .pdf is the brilliant bit. No need for scanning or special paper. I can instantly upload the .pdf to Evernote (or Microsoft’s OneNote) for a historical record of meetings and other activities.
Finally, it’s fun and you’ll never run out of paper.

In summary, Improv Electronics’ Boogie Boards are styled as paper replacements and they’re not far wrong but for me it’s just not there. At the moment, the Rip is best suited to drawings and sketches but falls short for handwriting, so I’ll be keep my A4 notebook for now. However, I genuinely look forward to the Rip 2, which will I’m sure will have a larger screen and a more detailed stylus.

Boogie Board Rip

As a project manager, it’s essential that I take notes during meetings. I’m a big fan of an A4 notebook, with each meeting on a new page, written in pencil or ink. The advantages are that it’s cheap, robust, in date order and it’s easy to refer back to previous meetings. The big disadvantage is that it’s difficult to share my notes without either scanning the pages or typing them up.

I have tried using a tablet to directly type into a document. It works, in that if I’m careful with filenames I can create a timeline but it’s slower to type notes in and drawings aren’t easy to do. The tablet’s also expensive and not that robust. The great benefit is that the notes from the meeting can be circulated almost as soon as I get back to the office. However, I’m not convinced that it’s the best solution.

Into this space comes Improv Electronics‘ Boogie Board Rip eWriter which I’m very keen to try out. When combined with a tool such as Evernote, I think this could be a very effective notetaking tool bringing together the freedom to write and draw with the ability to store the notes digitally.

If you haven’t come across the orginal Boogie Board (.pdf), it’s a pressure sensitive LCD tablet that you write or draw on with a stylus (or finger) and that’s all it does. Think of it as a replacement for a sheet of paper that you simple draw on, but when you are done, you press a button at the top and the page erases so you can start again with a blank page.

The latest version, the Boogie Board Rip (.pdf), uses the same idea but also has a save function, which will store a copy of your notes as a .pdf file for later transfer to your PC. For me, that’s what makes it a compelling solution.

The Rip will be available in USA and Europe from 1st November for $130, £100 or €120, with pre-ordering now. I hope to bring you a hands-on review shortly.

The BoogieBoard from Kent Display

The Boogie Board

Do you remember when you use to hang a white board on the refrigerator or on your door and when you wanted to leave a note you would take the pen that was always hang by a string to it and try to write a note. I say try because most of the time the marker was either dry or worn out. Maybe its a piece of paper with a pencil hanging from it. What ever the case the Boogie Board is here to replace it.

It is a light weight only 4.2 oz and very thin 1/8 of an inch thick. It uses reflective, pressure-sensitive, plastic liquid crystal display that you write on. Although it comes with a stylus, you can use anything to write on it as long it creates enough pressure. To erase the board, you simply push a button at the top of the board. This will erase the whole board, at this time there is no way to erase a part of the board.

The messages on the board can be seen best in normal room light and the writing will appear dimmer as the room gets darker. It is very durable and can be used more then 50,000 times. The Boogie Board can be found at Amazon or Brookstone along with the Boogie Board web site for as low as $39.95. Joe from Kent Display at CES 2011 also showed Andy the an electronic skin for the iPhone or iPod called the Skin-flick. The design on the Skin-Flick appears or disappears by flicking on the skin. The Skin-flick should be available later this year.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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