Leuchtturm1917 v Moleskine Notebooks

For all today’s gadgets, there’s a great deal still to be said for pen and paper. It’s cheap, reliable and you don’t need to worry about the battery life. Setting those practicalities aside, I find great pleasure in a beautiful notebook and a fine fountain pen, though my handwriting still leaves much to be desired. I’m not a alone in this pleasure with a resurgence in paper notebooks and the legendary Moleskine has pushed to the fore. Is it the best? Here we have two lined notebooks, one from Leuchtturm1917  and the other from Moleskine – let’s take a look and find out.

Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskine Notebooks

Both Moleskine and Leuchtturm draw on their heritage. Moleskine’s dates back into the early 20th Century name-checking Picasso, van Gogh and Hemingway. Although originally French, it died out in the 1980s, only to be resurrected in the late 90s by an Italian publisher. On the other hand, Leuchtturm goes back to 1917 (hence Leuchtturm1917) with roots in Hamburg, Germany and a reputation for stamp collecting albums, which continues today. These stories are laid out by both companies in small cream folded inserts that accompany each book. The message is clear; you aren’t buying only a notebook, you are continuing the traditions of culture, history and travel.

Physically both notebooks are very similar but there are subtle and useful differences. I’d call them medium or A5-sized notebooks though strictly the Moleskine isn’t wide enough for A5. Both are 21 cm tall with hardcovers but the Moleskine is only 13 cm compared with the the Leuchtturm‘s 14.5 cm. Each has an elastic enclosure band, page marker and an expandable pocket inside the back cover. They also come in wide range of colours and pair well with 7″ tablets, such as the Nexus 7.

Leuchtturm1917 Moleskine

Opening the notebooks shows that both have lined pages with the same line spacing, but with the Moleskine, that’s about it. Although both have an Owner page at the front, the Leuchtturm goes further with three Contents pages and each page is numbered for easy reference. In addition, there are eight perforated pages towards the back that can be removed, along with some stickers to assist with archiving once the notebook is full. The Leuchtturm1917 is for those who want to be organised! “Datum / Date” is printed at the top of each page too, which may put people off but suits me fine.

Ink BleedBoth notebooks have lovely paper which is a joy to write on with pencil and ballpoint. However, the Moleskine has a problem with pen ink bleeding from one side to the other, particularly with black ink, which makes the Leuchtturm a better choice for fountain pen writers.

Overall, both the Moleskine and the Leuchtturm are stylish notebooks with a great feel both in the hand and under the pen. For me as a fountain pen owner, the Leuchtterm wins out by default, but the contents pages and page numbering make it my choice for those reasons too. Pencil owners and people looking for something a little neater may prefer the Moleskine. Whichever you choose, you’ll never go back.

Available from all good stationery retailers, the Leuchtturm1917 retails for around GB£13 with the Moleskine for a few pounds less.

MSI has Two New Ultra-Portable Gaming Notebooks

MSI SteelSeries keyboardMSI has announced two new thin and light notebooks that are designed for serious gamers. They are the GS60 Ghost and the GS70 Stealth gaming notebooks. Each comes in either a 17-inch or a 15-inch model. Both are part of MSI’s GS Series.

The GS60 Ghost is the lightest 15-inch notebook to hit the market. It is the first gaming notebook to use Mg-Li alloy in its design. Both the GS60 Ghost and the GS70 Stealth use NVIDIA GeForce BTX 860M/870M Graphics. They come with 4th Gen Intel Core i7 processor.

For sound, these gaming notebooks use Sound Blaster Cinema, Dynaudio speakers and MSI Audio Boost technology. They are able to output to 4K displays and can connect to multiple independent monitors simultaneously using the Matrix Multi-Monitor Display.

Both the GS60 Ghost and the GS70 Stealth have the SteelSeries full-color backlight keyboard with Anti-Ghosting capabilities. They have the SteelSeries Engine which allows gamers the ability to personalize their playing style with over a billion customization options.

You won’t have to worry about these gaming notebooks getting too loud or too hot. They have two ultra-slim fans and a better and more intelligent air flow design that works with ultra-slim builds. Both the fan and temperature control performance have been improved, resulting in faster reduction of temperature and less noise. MSIs GS70 Stealth and GS60 Ghost are available at $1,699.99.

gDoc Binder

gDoc Binder gDoc Binder is the electronic version of the traditional physical binder. It has the three rings, tabs and sections just like a regular binder. gDoc Binder is a great way to organize a project. Each binder can be secured with a password and has 256AES encryption. You can store text and images in the notebook. They hope to add the ability to store audio and video files in the future.

The gDoc Binders is a Windows only application, but you can easily share the content to an iPad. You can print, copy,  share a page, a whole section or an entire notebook easily. What makes these binders great is that they help you organize information in an easily searchable and shareable format. Right now gDoc Binders is looking for users for their beta program, however they expect to sell a set of ten binders for $10.00. More information is available at the gDoc website

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net, and Daniel J. Lewis of the The Noodle.mx Network and the Audacity to Podcast

Support our Show Sponsor:
30% off your new order @ GoDaddy: gnc30
1.49 .com New or Renewal geek149
$1.00 / mo WordPress Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: press4
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today
PlayPlay

Samsung Series 9 Notebooks

If you are in the market for a new notebook computer then you may want to check out the latest offerings from Samsung with their Series 9 version, which was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just recently.  Samsung calls it the world’s thinnest laptop, which is saying something given the MacBook Air and all of the new UltraBooks that were unveiled at CES.

The new Samsung Series 9 will come in both 13 inch and 15 inch versions.  The new laptops are extremely thin and light and sport all-aluminum bodies.  In addition, the Series 9 has a back-lit keyboard, a 128 GB or 256 GB SSD, an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and a high-resolution 1600 x 900 screen.  The Samsung Series 9 notebooks should be available sometime this spring for an as-yet-undisclosed price.  You can get a look at the 15″ version in the video posted below.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Support our Show Sponsor:
30% off your new order @ GoDaddy: gnc30
1.49 .com New or Renewal geek149
$1.00 / mo WordPress Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: press4
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today
PlayPlay

The HP Envy 14 Spectre

HP logoLast week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas computer maker HP unveiled the Envy 14 Spectre, a new 14 inch laptop with some fairly impressive specs behind it.  It comes with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, an option for a 128 GB or 256 GB SSD, 4 or 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, Mini DisplayPort, HD webcam, Gorilla Glass inside and out, and USB 3.0.  Users also get a choice of Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate or Professional, but you will have to go with the 64-bit version, as this new notebook doesn’t come in a 32-bit version.  HP claims a nine hour battery life, but perhaps the nicest touch is the keyboard, which has individual LED’s behind each key to make them easily visible in low, or even no, light conditions.

Although I haven’t seen the HP Envy 14 Spectre referred to as an “Ultrabook” that’s the first word that comes to mind when I see it.  The sleek, thin design and the lack of an optical drive all point to that category, which was the hot meme at CES 2012.  There is more to this notebook than just the specs I listed above, but you will need to watch the video below to get all of the details.  The Envy 14 Spectre will start at an MSRP of $1399.  You can also visit HP for more info.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

Support our Show Sponsor:
30% off your new order @ GoDaddy: gnc30
1.49 .com New or Renewal geek149
$1.00 / mo WordPress Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: press4
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain! Promo Code: geeks12
GoDaddy Promo Codes always save you money, check out my Promo Codes Today
PlayPlay

Vivick Anti-Theft Backpack Debuts at CES

Vivick LogoThe theft of mobile electronic devices has become increasingly attractive as the value of gadgets rises and the economy falls. A particularly easy way to steal is to simply open likely-looking backpacks and rucksacks while they’re being worn and remove the gadgetry without the owner noticing. Sometimes the pack can be unzipped quietly, other times it’s cut open with a knife or scissors. A skilled thief can do this while someone is walking along but more commonly it happens on trains and buses.

To defend against this thievery, Canadian firm Vivick will debut their new line of anti-theft backpacks at CES in January, comprising three bags constructed from an anti-slash military-grade gauge nylon with a combination lock built into the zipper tab. Each model is designed to look good while being sturdy and durable, and the carry straps are also strengthened.

Rifling through my satchel this morning, I found a laptop, a tablet, an MP3 player and a somewhat old smartphone (Palm Treo Pro). Even with this last item, the total value of the technology exceeds £1000 (or $1500), so this isn’t a purely theoretical risk.

Vivick is known for its professional electronic designs, having worked for Apple, Sony, Samsung and Dell to create accessories for their own product lines. Vivick has also worked with Aston Martin and Ferrari on interior automotive accessories. Based on these credentials, I’ll be very interested to see what they come up with at CES.

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.

GammaTech DuraBook Rugged Notebook

Paul Kim, VP of Marketing for GammTech demonstrates his rugged laptop to Esby and Jeffrey by giving it some abuse – you’ll have to watch the video to see what he does.

The new D12C is a 12″ convertible, being able to switch between a tablet and notebook configuration. It’s A10F-spec graded withstanding a 3ft drop and spill-resistant – it even has drainplug so that liquid can be let out of the bottom. The exterior of the case is a magnesium alloy.

GammaTech sells plenty of these to the military and the emergency services but they’re also available to consumers via BestBuy and other major stores.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast and Esbjorn Larsen of MrNetCast.com.

Please Support our CES 2011 Sponsors.

Save 25% on 4GH Hosting 1yr Subscriptions Save 25% Promo Code CES2.

A Look At The Acer ICONIA

You have probably seen or heard about the stunning Acer ICONIA notebook PC that was shown off on stage during the Microsoft CES presentation.  You couldn’t miss it – it was 14″ dual touchscreen beauty.  It had first been shown at an Acer event in New York last month, but information went dark after that until now.

Both of the 14″ screens are multitouch enabled.  The bottom screen can display content in addition to a traditional QWERTY keyboard or a variety of other types of controls.

Inside the inventive little PC is an Intel Core i5 CPU, up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated Intel graphics, a hard drive up to 750 GB, and Windows 7 Home Premium.  For connectivity there are two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, HDMI, and VGA.

Early reviews from people who got their hands on it report that it is fast and responsive and typing is no different than on an iPad, but a bit more comfortable thanks to it’s notebook shape.