The recent addition of digital pens to the computer accessories has recently become more competitive with the introduction of the Zpen by Dane-Elec.I have been testing the Zpen for a month now during the normal course of my work, which during this time has also involved the writing and editing of a substantial book.
The pen itself is sleek and stylish with an ergonomic design that is similar to normal pens, which appears to be a rarity in the digital pen marketplace, where digital pens have traditionally been cumbersome and stand out as such. As such, it does not put any extra strain on the users hand and is comfortable to write with. When writing the receiver battery has lasted for several days when taking notes from lectures, before needing recharging via a free USB port.
In contrast to a lot of input peripherals for computers, the software and manuals for the pen are all integrated onto the 1GB memory in the receiver and the memory is accessible through a standard USB memory key interface. This means that you can access your handwritten notes on any computer that you have access to and also use the receiver as a standard memory key – useful if you want to exchange information at a meeting.
The movement of the pen is monitored by digital, IR & acoustic signals from the pen which are monitored by the sensors built into the USB dongle, and the onboard software calculates the relative position of the pen to the dongle and saves this information to the flash memory as part of a note file (.ELI) The Zpen is highly accurate from my own experience when monitoring pen strokes and is suitable for both writing and technical drawings (the manual states resolution between 300-900dpi). See below for an example of my handwriting as written by Zpen.
The inbuilt “Pen & Ink viewer” software allows you to view and export your written notes as a .pdf file for further editing and includes a handy “Note Search” tool for searching through your handwritten notes.
In addition to the digitilisation of your handwritten notes, the Zpen comes packaged with “Myscipt Notes by Vision Objects” which allows conversion of your handwritten notes by complex OCR (optical character recognition). The software is designed so that you do not need to undertake the training of the software yourself and can instantly convert your handwritten notes to editable text for export to email, word or simple text (unformatted). It manages to maintain formatting and also allows diagrams to be exported.
The Myscript Notes software includes a software trainer, so that you can optimise the OCR for your handwriting (no small undertaking with my level of handwriting!) and this did indeed improve the OCR element for me. The dictionary used for the OCR can be customised to include more specialised terms (for me this was essential) which makes the usage of the Zpen applicable to a wide range of professions.
I myself would highly recommend this digital pen for both students and professionals. For both parties it provides a very good way of storing large amounts of handwritten notes without the need to carry the paperwork with you, allows easy access to the work, and allows export of the digitalised notes in either there native or OCR derived form to all of the major software applications (PDF, word etc). For more information go here (DaneDigital website).