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.

7 thoughts on “Boogie Board Rip Hands On Review

  1. Chuck,

    You’re right that it’s difficult to OCR the PDFs and I just add the PDF to Evernote as attachments. This is fine for me I don’t have the requirement to search and my “indexing system” is based on date rather than anything else.

    Further, I’m not sure how many of the cheaper OCR packages can handle vector PDFs as most of them expect scanned images. Software from these guys may help but they don’t mention PDF in the list of supported formats.

  2. I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S2 because it has USB host functionality, which allows you to hook the RIP up to it and view your previous notes when necessary. I’ve only used this function once in the few weeks i’ve had the notebook, but it’s nice that it’s there right on my phone if I need it.

    For the evernote import, how are you making this work when evernote doesn’t do handwriting recognition on PDFs? I thought it would be a great combination, but the lack of the handwriting OCR on PDFs in evernote, makes

  3. I was looking for a note-taking device for the office and this was one of the devices I considered. I liked the price and simplicity, but without search functions it’s merely an input device – you can’t quickly find previous notes during a meeting, for example.
    I ended up buying the Asus Eee Note, and I’m very happy with it. It’s great for handwriting, uploads to Evernote directly (over wifi), stores thousands of pages, and you can find any note in seconds with the search function. The battery lasts for about 10 hours of continuous use, which in my case translates to weekly recharging. The screen is 8 in. which I find sufficient, despite having switched from an A4 notepad. Some additional bonuses are the ability to record voice (which I use for important meetings), and the e-book reader function which handles pdf-s and epub-s.
    In my opinion, the only downside of the Eee Note is the price (USD 240 on ebay) – we are getting accustomed to seeing full-fledged tablets at this price. Of course, those tablets can’t capture handwriting…

  4. t_b

    It is an interesting device but I think you are right that it’s a bit too expensive for what it is. The eee note from Asus is also very interesting – I’d heard about it but not checked it up. I might see if I can get review model.


  5. Gerdich,

    Yes, you can write back to external drive. It appears as any memory stick would. Obviously it’s a bit small at 8 MB to do much with it, but for the small .pdfs it’s fine.


  6. I think it is an interesting device, but the eee note from asus has a lot more options and does handwriting very well (costs a bit more though…).
    Still tempted to buy the boogie board but the price needs to be lower then.

  7. A very important inofrmation is missing in every report I’ve read.

    The boogie board is an external drive for pc.

    Can you also write back from pc to boogie board what you have saved on pc?

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