Papershow

August 1st, 2009 Desktop, Gadgets & Hardware, Tech

Price: $349

Making paper-based information digital has a long history in computing from scanning to optical character recognition, but Papershow takes it to the next level, digitising notes as you scribble them right on paper in front of you. It consists of a pen, USB stick and special pad and as you write or sketch, the corresponding software does the same like magic.

It’s not magic though, it’s Bluetooth. The system is completely portable from one system to another because the Papershow software and any files you save stay on the 256Mb Flash memory drive. Every time you insert it into a USB slot on your PC the software starts up automatically.

Much like in an office suite you can start a new session, open an old one, save, close and add pages. Clicking ‘escape’ puts the drawing board into full screen to give you more space to view your results.

The first time you load the software it will prompt you to pair it with the USB pen, a bulky but simple biro with a Bluetooth transmitter in it. We had trouble having the software recognise the pen but after a little troubleshooting the system was off.

Cleverly for distributor Bantex and retailers like OfficeWorks, Papershow doesn’t work on any old notepad. The set comes with a pad of drawing paper for use with the pen or individual sheets you can feed through your printer. It’s about $50 for a replacement ream, but the magic ingredient is a tiny grid of dots that you can see if you squint right up close. From a normal viewing distance they simply make the page look slightly greyish, but the pen sends the signal about what it’s doing to the software, which reads where it’s pressing in relation to the grid.

The way the pen communicates with the software then gives you the power to do much more than just draw and write. You can select from three pen thicknesses and change colour. Draw two adjacent lines and you’ll have a perfect rectangle, draw a rough circle and you’ll have an ellipse. Selecting from the colour chart before you draw can create shapes with coloured outlines or fills, and other little paper-based control panels let you erase or undo what you’ve just done, create new pages or scroll between them.

You can also print your own images onto the loose leaf sheets and annotate them as necessary, so the system offers a lot of possibilities. It’s more realistic to use the export feature to share your brainstorming sessions as a PDF or PowerPoint slideshow than for the whole team to sit hunched around a PC in a meeting, but it’s just a few more steps to projecting the image through a digital projector for a seminar or presentation.

Papershow.com.au


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