Tag Archives: notebook

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.

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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.

Notebooks Lead HP Consumer Focus

At CES 2011, HP today announced a raft of changes to its portable computing portfolio, bringing an exceptional mobile experience to its consumers through upgrades to processors, graphics, audio and design features.  Additionally, the Pavilion line of desktop PCs benefits with similar changes to their specifications.

The HP Pavilion dm1 is ideal for the mobile user, being thin and light while delivering notebook performance in small package.  At less than 1″ thick and with an 11.6″ screen, the dm1 comes with AMD’s VISION technology capable of delivering a full 1080p HD experience.  The AMD Fusion-accelerated processing unit integrates a Ms DirectX 11 GPU into the main processor.  And keep things from overheating, the dm1 is equipped with HP’s CoolSense technology, which intelligently controls fans and routes waste heat according to use and situation.

Next, the HP ENVY 17 now features HP’s CoolSense technology making it the first high-performance HP PC with advanced cooling technology. Further, the laptop is able to intelligently switch between the low power integrated graphics and the dedicated AMD Mobility Radeon HD 6580M for high performance.  Twinned with the latest Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs, this is a seriously powerful multimedia notebook.

The Pavilion line (notebooks dv6, d7 and desktops p6700, s5700 and HPE-500) get a spec boost with the latest Intel processors and AMD Radeon graphics chips. New to the desktop PCs is HP’s Multi-Display Capable technology (that’s running two monitors at once to you and me). Selected models have also been upgraded to Beats Audio, created by Beats by Dr. Dre. Working with HP, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine tuned and applied the signature Beats sound profile across the premium notebook and desktop lines to provide a great sound experience.

Finally, the HP Mini 210 netbook gets a fashion makeover with raspberry and iceberry tartans (plaid), though the former will be available exclusively in Best Buy. A matching range of mice and other fashion accessories is also available.  With an Intel Atom processor and six-cell battery, users can expect over 10 hours of use.

Cr48 a Gift from Google

Yesterday afternoon an unexpected package arrived by UPS from Google, inside was the cr48.   After installing the battery and attaching the power cord.  I lifted the lid of the lap top and the Chrome logo appeared  I  entered my Google account information to register. I then watched  a brief tutorial.   After the tutorial the chrome browser appears.  This is your world on this computer, there is no desktop , no file system everything you do is through the browser.  There are a couple of problems I ran into right away and I wanted to discuss them in this post.

The first problem I ran into was how I was going to upload a picture I took of it with my Iphone, on my Mac I either email it too myself and then drag it too my desktop or I add them too my Iphoto library when I sync.  There is a usb port on the cr48, but it doesn’t recognize the Iphone (or any other hard drive) so copying directly from the Iphone isn’t an option. I discovered that for photos on the Iphone email is the best option. Just email the picture to yourself, I emailed from my Mobileme account to my Gmail account.  Once you get the email hit alt right click on the image then hit save as.  The image will go into your download folder.  At that point you go to your favorite photo website such as Flickr or Picassa hit the upload button and go to /chronos/user/downloads and choose the appropriate file. Then follow the instructions on the website.  If you need to edit the photo, Picnik work well.   If you took the picture with a digital camera that has an standard SD card, the cr48 does have an SD card slot and will recognize any standard SD card. Again go to your favorite photo site hit upload then locate your SD card and the image  and proceed as instructed by the site. Both these methods should work with any file type as long as you are uploading the file to the appropriate site

Beside the usb port and SD card slot there is a headphone jack on the right and side of the computer. On the left hand side there is a VGA port.  However when I first attached a VGA cable to it and to an external monitor nothing happened.   Most sites I went to said the port was dead, however I was convinced that it should work, I was right I found the answer at Search Engine Land blog .  Once you attach the secondary monitor, hit ctrl and the key that looks like a couple of panels one on top of another.  Then the second monitor works, however the laptop monitor goes black, so there is no way to use the lap top monitor and an external monitor at the same time. all indications are that Google is in no hurry to fix this.
I do like the computer  I am still in the process of learning how things work.  I do think that it needs some work before it will be ready for the general public, especially people who don’t use Google Chrome as their everyday browsers.  This is where the Google app store shines.  However deciding which application is best for what you want is some of a hit or miss operation right now, the only thing to go by are the ratings and what Google recommends.  Ratings can be gamed and the top rated application may not be the best one for you.   I plan to do post in the future, about the various applications that I use and why, but for now I am still exploring.   I  very happy I received this early Christmas present from Google and look forward to sending in my thoughts to them.

HP Brings 3D To Laptop Line-Up

Today, HP announced its autumn line-up of notebooks, with the HP Envy 17 3D taking the flagship role as the first 17″ laptop to support 1080p 3-D and Blu-ray.

The Envy 17 3D comes with active shutter glasses which wirelessly sync with the HD display giving a full 3D experience when viewing films or playing games that are “3D”.

Under the hood, it’s Intel quad core processors coupled with ATI Mobility Radeon graphics giving smooth Blu-ray playback and the cinematic experience is completed by Beats audio and a triple bass reflex sub-woofer.

Available for the holiday season and pricing not yet set.

Moving on to the HP Envy 14 Beats Edition, this is the one for the audiophiles.  Featuring Beats Audio,  a high-tech audio system developed by HP and Beats by Dr. Dre to deliver the best possible audio sound experience when listening through headphones or external speakers.

Inside, Intel i5 quad core CPUs do the heavy-lifting, complemented with 4GB RAM and Radeon HD5650 graphics.

The notebook itself comes in aluminium soft-touch finish, with the distinctive Beats black and red logo on the lid.  In a refreshing change from the usual blue back-lit keyboards, the Envy 14 comes with red back-light. Nice.

To top-off the package, each Beats Edition notebook comes with a set of Beats Solo headphones from Monster.  Very nice.

If I was in the market for a new notebook, I’d definitely be giving the Envy 14 consideration for its audio capabilities.  Who am I kidding? I just want one because it looks cool.

The full spec is available on HP’s website and the Envy 14 Beats Edition is available now starting at $1250 (less a penny).

To round-off the multimedia extravaganza, the HP Wireless TV Connect will wirelessly stream full HD content from any HDMI-equipped laptop to an HDTV. The sender unit is powered via USB from the laptop, so there’s no need for additional power but obviously, it will drain the battery laptop faster.

Although apparently aimed at the consumer market, I can see this being a hit in the business presentation market where big screen HDTVs are replacing the traditional data projector.  Available from October starting at $199.

The One Thing Apple Did Wrong this Year

First of all, I know there are going to be people disagreeing on this, so let’s just say we’ll agree to disagree….

I have seen a few articles on the web talking about the 10 things that Apple has done right and the 10 things Apple has done wrong. While I look at some of the items on these lists, I agree with it for the most part. You can probably guess some of the things like Apple and AT&T, the Tablet rumors, not upgrading the Mac Pro, etc.

All in all, there is one thing that I think Apple should have done this year and didn’t really do. It’s something that was on Beta News top ten list of things they did right. But I disagree:

Apple did not lower the prices enough.

Back in June the gossip was that Apple was lowering prices on their Macbooks. Everyone was a flutter with a possibly “affordable” machine. But in the end, the reality was that the Intel Dual core laptop started at $999. If you wanted a more affordable Mac – The mini only costs $599.

Now if you compare that to a PC Laptop – 2.66 Dual core with 2 GB DDR3 memory and 250GB hard drive, you will find that price is at about $700. It is said that 30% of the macbook sale is profit. That is about $300 for the Apple name and OS. Apple is expected to have sold about 3 million new machines in this quarter alone, meaning $300 million in sales – or (if numbers stayed the same year round) $1.2 Billion.

Before we move forward – I realize that Apple has to answer to investors. Making profit is key, especially in this economy. However, this last year and a half has not been good to some. Most companies have tried to lower prices so people can buy more and re-stimulate the economy.

Apple didn’t do anything viable for the average consumer.

If they would have done the same thing as with the original Macintosh, then I would be more sympathetic to the cause. Basically, Apple – Back in 1985 – started a program to build, or even rebuild school computer rooms. I was lucky enough to go to a High school that had received 30 Macintosh Classics from this program.

But in this go-around they didn’t. They pretty much profited the money from the sales.

I am all for making a profit in any economy. PC manufacturers would always complain that the problem with building computers was they would only make a couple dollars from selling because the competition was so high. That is why companies made support plans – to make some extra cash on a sale.

My problem lies with the fact that a low end Macbook is not affordable to the average consumer. That is why Microsoft made the PC hunter commercials. A Mac for $1000 whereas a PC Notebook for $500. Yes, it might have a slightly slower processor to it, but will the average consumer actually notice a500 Mhz difference? We could also talk about how AMD processors would match the speed and keep the price low. But let’s not get into THAT argument.

Add to it Apple’s other interests, like iPhone sales, which are great. It costs them $179 to build a 16 GB model. Now while you are saying “That’s OK, I only paid $199 for the phone”, the reality is you didn’t. AT&T picked up the difference for the exclusivity. A $400 difference.

Here is how it works – AT&T pays Apple a monthly fee per phone on their system. So within 2 years, AT&T will pay Apple around $400 for your phone ($12-15 per month). Making Apple about $400 on your $179 iPhone ($600 in total). Of course, if you buy the phone outright, it will cost you $499.

Now we will talk stocks: This last week, Apple shares rose to $209 – the highest they’ve ever been. Why is that? No other reason than the fact that a rumor is going around about a Tablet that might be coming.


I could go on with numbers, but I think I made my point. Apple could have easily dropped a Macbook to $700, and a Macbook Pro to $900. They would have then sold Apple care for $70 a year and still made a tidy profit.

So the rumor of the Tablet is it will sell for $600. I would venture a guess to say it will be more $800 (if this rumor comes true). Why? Because Apple doesn’t want to “Cheapen” the computer experience for anyone. And they certainly don’t want to lighten the pocketbooks.

Athlon 64 Netbooks enter market – Could a $100 machine become possible?

  • gateway_netbook3.04 lbs
  • 1.03 inches thick
  • single-core CPU  @ 1.2 GHz, with 800 MHz FSB & 512 KB L2 Cache
  • 2 GB of DDR2
  • ATI Radeon X1270 graphics
  • AMD RS690E chipset
  • 250 GB hard drive
  • 802.11b/g
  • 11.6-inch high-def WXGA Ultrabrite LED-backlit display
  • 3 x USB 2.0, multi-card reader,
  • high-def audio support, a mic & audio out
  • 0.3 mp webcam.
  • Windows Vista

This is the Gateway LT3103u – a new netbook containing the AMD Athlon 64 L110 chipset. The price? Well, this one is $400. But if they can make an Athlon 64 Netbook for $400, what can they do with a mobile Turion?

Can you say $100 netbook?

Last week I listened to Dr. Michio Kaku talk about “Disposable Computers”. The data will be in the cloud, the computer will be a facet to get to it. It won’t be totally disposable, but the idea is you will not continue to use the same machine to get to your information.

In order to get to that state, we need machines that are not only deemed “Disposable”, but also safe to dispose of.

Still, the first step is to create low cost machine. A netbook is a low cost machine. More compact and easier to use in some ways. Heck, I wished I had one on the flight to Vegas last week. I sat trying to use my laptop with the 13″ screen. You would have laughed at how I was positioned to use it.

The guy next to me had an iPod and a guy across the aisle from me had a DVD player to watch movies. The person in front of us had a netbook. They were working on a project – but they were working more comfortably.

So what would we need to get to a $100 Netbook? Well, first and formost, technology must have low overhead. A $100 machine should cost less than a $100 to make.

According to Business Week, an Apple iPhone 3GS costs $180 to make. It’s predecessor – when it came out – was averaged to cost $220. Next years model could cost $140. Within 5 years we could see Apple iPhones at $99 simply because the phone costs less than $80 to build.

Apply that ideal to a netbook.

AMD says they are not entering into the Netbook market, but wanted to give a “High End” solution for netbooks. I am sorry AMD, but you can’t really say “We are not in the netbook market – by the way, here is a netbook”. Besides, if you don’t embrace the technology, someone else will find an alternative and you could be left to explain to investors why you didn’t take the opportunity.

Do we have $100 Netbooks already?

A couple months ago, we heard about Freescale semiconductors efforts to use an ARM chip and Google Android to make a $100 netbook. Great for surfing, video and small tasks. Yet, it’s not a netbook; It is a Smartbook.

Functionality of a notebook – portability of a netbook. Add to it a price that can’t be beat. That is what we want.

Wait, no. Add to it the fact that a netbook can now be FASTER than the notebook I currently own for a lesser price than I paid. Yet that is the Technology way, right?

Dear AMD: Make a low cost netbook. Thanks.

Sony Pocket Vaio – CES 2009

Sony_logo Do not be fooled by it’s size the Sony Pocket Vaio is a powerhouse and is absolutely not a netbook but a powerful PC with design considerations for the user with the device built around the keyboard.Sony-vaio

Take a closer look and that’s all it takes to realize what makes a VAIO notebook special. With unrivaled attention to detail and style that always makes a statement. Each series features a unique blend of textures and colors that can’t be ignored. It comes in four colors green, black, red and white. Easy to use, comfortable to use and it has this full type in keyboard that’s very easy and functional to type on. Weights 1.4 lbs with 8 inches ultra wide screen with 1600×768 resolution that can easily display two web pages side-by-side. Connectivity: with built-in Verizon 3G mobile broadband technology, embedded GPS and Microsoft Streets 2009 software. It uses lithium polymer removable battery. The standard battery gives you two to four hours of use and the extended battery is double the capacity and available for $129. It has Bluetooth built-in and a connections on the side called display LAN adapter for VGA-out and hardwire LAN out. The Pocket Vaio is available now starting at $900. Find this unit at www.sonystyle.com.