Taking a note on a piece of paper may sound too 20th Century, but there’s no denying the ease at which pen goes to paper when compared to having to use a laptop keyboard or an onscreen keyboard on a mobile device. But it sure would be good if that note could be digitized afterwards so as to take advantage of what digital can offer. That’s especially true when the notes span pages and includes diagrams, charts or even just doodles. The solution would seem to be finding a way to combine the “analog” note taking with the “digital” note results. If that sounds good, then the Neo SmartPen N2 is exactly the solution requested.
The N2 experience consists of the pen and specialized notebooks which feature paper sheets that are not of the common variety found at a stationary store. The pen itself feels ordinary which is on purpose — to use the pen no one has to learn a new method, just place it against the paper and write! Its aluminum body contains the electronics which turn on when pressure is applied (i.e., the pen touches the paper) and has the ability to store scads of pages when paired with the free app (iOS/Android) because the smartphone is accepting the material via Bluetooth.
One should also note that the pen itself is well constructed and a quite attractive aluminum — simple to use with minimal controls and the ink cartridge easily removed when dry. The pen has a camera in it that functions in a manner of recording that which is seen on the paper which has a pattern that is designed to react to this.
As mentioned above, the N2 is designed to work with specialized notebooks (each containing over 100 pages), which provide the surface for the notes to be taken. Through the automated syncing with the app, the digitized handwritten notes can be saved or shared, with full search and organizational abilities. Of course the text can be translated into digital and so a wide range of common languages are supported for the transcribing. The notes can be saved to Evernote or via the Google Drive manager, uploaded Google Drive and then shared with other devices or used in conjunction with applications such as Adobe creative suite and Dropbox in varying formats (JPEG, PDF, etc.). It’s even possible to play back the entire note taking sequence along with any audio made and synced to the strokes of the pen.
The N2 functions efficiently and seamlessly and there’s no complaints to speak of — especially for those who’ve learned that taking notes by hand is more convenient and sensible at a moment’s notice than trying to use a keyboard (be that physical or onscreen). This includes students of all ages as well as anyone who prefers to put pen to paper but not give up on the 21st Century’s perks. It’s neither retro nor silly to use the most effective means to write down needed materials — especially since “analogue” can be used under almost any condition without concern and the phone that’s needed is there anyway since no one goes anywhere without their phone anymore.
The Neo SmartPen N2 comes in either silver white or titan black, retails for $169.00 and will require repeated purchases of the notebooks in order to be effective (a set of the N ring notebooks costs aprox. $20). For those looking to return to the ease of use that note making on paper brings but still have the abilities of digital when it comes to adding search and control functionality (not to mention digital saving of material and audio capabilities), there is no substitute but to get this.