Evernote mates paper and cloud in unholy matrimony
Evernote, the company that stores all your documents in the cloud, has just tried to marry the digital world with the paper one. Meet the Evernote Smart Notebook.
If you're reading this, then you're probably a tech-head, like me, and may have an ambivalent relationship with dead trees. I scan every bill and letter that comes through my mailbox, whether it's the property management company diligently informing me of the latest strata council minutes (whoo!), or Revenue Canada telling me how many kidneys I'm going to have to hock on eBay to pay my tax bill.
Much of this stuff goes into Evernote (except the stuff with sensitive data). I take notes in Evernote, too, with my iPad, but it's far from enjoyable. I don't like typing, and I can't draw diagrams very well on the screen. And, at the risk of geek disapproval everywhere, I quite like the scratch of pen on paper. I like having a notebook that I can carry around with me, and a nice pen to write with.
This Smart Notebook looks like an interesting marriage of the two. You get a conventional Moleskine, but the pages have tiny dots on them. When you line up the page with your phone's camera and take a picture of it, the updated Evernote app on your phone recognises the dots, and adjusts the image to fit so that Evernote can better recognise your handwriting. It enhances the image to get rid of shadows and make it more readable, and then stores it for posterity in your Evernote account (with fully searchable handwriting recognition).
This is similar to the Echo pen, (formerly the LiveScribe) which is a pen with a built-in dot scanner. The pen would watch for the microscopic dots printed on the special paper that LiveScribe sells you, and stores that information in its memory. When you synchronize the pen with your computer, you see your handwritten notes appear on screen - and it recognizes that handwriting, too.
With the Evernote Smart Notebook, though, you don't need a special pen. You just need the magic paper, so that you can use whatever writing instrument you like. The notebook also comes with coloured stickers at the back that you can stick to a page. The app will recognise different stickers as tags that it will automatically use to tag your notes with.
I like this idea, and might almost buy it, but I'm put off by the $25-$30 rip-off price tag for a Moleskine. Hell, I won't buy books with words in them for that price. When I pay that much for a notebook, I'm scared to write in the damn thing. Whatever you write in this book, you'd better make sure it's precious (but not so precious that you'd be afraid to store it on Evernote's unencrypted servers).
Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets