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Old 10-22-2014, 03:00 AM   #1
ejasmudar
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Ebook reader + Handwritten notes

I am looking for an e-ink (or similiar) device that can also be used to take notes with a stylus. Handwriting recognition is not needed. I just need to be able to write as normally as possible on it and avoid carrying my notebooks around.

BTW, budget would be around ~150$

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Old 10-22-2014, 02:34 PM   #2
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E-ink does not really lend itself to handwriting, because of the constant need to update the screen. I've not heard of an e-ink reader with this ability, but if one exists, I'm sure someone will chime in.
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Old 10-23-2014, 01:42 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by susan_cassidy View Post
E-ink does not really lend itself to handwriting, because of the constant need to update the screen. I've not heard of an e-ink reader with this ability, but if one exists, I'm sure someone will chime in.
The Sony PRS-T1, T2 and T3 each come with a stylus and the ability to write notes but I don't know how well it works. I'm guessing not up to the standard the OP wants.
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Old 10-23-2014, 02:32 AM   #4
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The Sony PRS-T1, T2 and T3 each come with a stylus and the ability to write notes but I don't know how well it works. I'm guessing not up to the standard the OP wants.
The screen uses infrared sensors to get the position, which aren't very precise. So, normal sized handwriting looks pretty bad, at least on my T1.
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:45 AM   #5
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I've not heard of an e-ink reader with this ability, but if one exists, I'm sure someone will chime in.
Sony Mobius, 13.3" Digital Paper.

$1000.
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:59 AM   #6
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I have researched this subject to some extent. Here is a brief summary of what I know:

Hardware:
- There is nothing wrong with e-ink for note-taking, the screen refreshes only at page turns, similar to reading.
- Monochrome LCD also works, but it has less contrast, so you need good lighting.
- I don't like taking notes on backlit color tablets, because the light hurts my eyes.
- For accurate and comfortable handwriting, the device should have an "active digitiser" in the screen (Wacom or similar). This allows the screen to ignore your hand and avoid unwanted marks. The small Sony devices (T1, T2, T3) don't have this technology so I would not recommend them.
- Screen size: ranges from 5 to 10 inches, should be an important factor in your choice. I prefer 8-10 inch devices.
- Sound recording: if you want to use the tablet for meetings or lectures, sound recording can be useful.
- Camera: if the device has a built-in camera, you can snap a photo of the whiteboard or a document and embed it in your notes.

Software: depending on what you want to do and how frequently, some devices will fit you better than others. For example, my workflow involves writing, erasing, inserting and deleting pages, saving notes, renaming notes, searching notes by key words in the title, sorting notes, editing notes after saving, making backup copies, and converting notes to pdf when I migrate to a new device. Not all devices support all of these functions.

Here is a summary of the devices I have used and my experience:
- Asus EeeNote EA800: 8-inch screen, unfortunately monochrome LCD, not e-ink - otherwise the best device I have used so far. Excellent hardware (rugged aluminium frame, sound recording, camera, responsive and accurate stylus) and software (fully supports the workflow above, plus undo, copy-paste, custom templates, etc.). Highly recommended for note-taking if you work in a well-lit environment - otherwise go for an e-ink device. Not great for reading due to the screen. Not sold by Asus anymore, sometimes avalable on Ebay as new or used, 100-150 USD
- Onyx Boox X60: 6-inch e-ink. Good for reading (supports most formats, has good zoom/font functions). Only o.k. for handwriting as software is not optimised for my workflow - too many taps required to do what I want. It's drop-proof so a good choice for a child as a first reader. 50-100 USD
- Onyx Boox M92: 10-inch e-ink, excellent for reading, even better than its smaller brother (e.g. supports multitasking). You can even run Linux on it (Obuntu)... Only o.k. for handwriting as software is not optimised for my workflow - too many taps required to do what I want - but usable. Available new or used, 200-300 USD.
- Irex Iliad: a very old device, but quite capable for both reading and writing. It uses a real Wacom digitiser so is more accurate and pleasant than Onyx or Hanvon (which use a slightly different technology). Its 8-inch screen is a good compromise between visibility and portability. One disadvantage is the proprietary charger - if you break or lose it, you can't use an USB charger instead. Only available used, 100-250 USD.
- Irex DR800: the successor to the Iliad, with great hardware and software. It's small and light, and has an 8-inch e-ink screen. My only gripe is that the stylus is not as accurate as the Iliad's, especially on the top part of the screen. Used only, 150-250 USD.
- Irex DR1000S: very large reader with a 10-inch e-ink screen. Excellent for reading as well as writing, although the screen is not as white as the M92. Discontinued, so only available used, 200-300 USD.
- Hanvon WiseReader N800: 8-inch e-ink. reader with very good hardware and software, but almost impossible to find (I bought mine on AliExpress, but it seems to be gone now). Originally 400 USD.

I have not owned the following, but they may come up on your radar:

- Pocketbook 903/912: uses the same stylus as Onyx and Hanvon but as far as I know it's not possible to take notes on it - if somebody knows otherwise, please let me know.
- Hanvon WiseReader E920: seems to be a very capable 10-inch e-ink device, not sold directly but you can buy it new on Ebay or AliExpress.
- Sony DPT-S1 (mentioned above as "Mobius"): not tried it, probably great for writing, but supports pdf documents only. Also the price is very high.
- Several other, smaller Hanvon ereaders support handwriting, these are available via Amazon or Ebay.

I hope you find this useful. Let me know if you need more information. You can also check out the Flea Market for such devices currently on sale.

Last edited by Jmirko; 10-23-2014 at 07:24 AM. Reason: Added approximate prices
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Old 10-23-2014, 11:41 AM   #7
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The Sony PRS-T1, T2 and T3 each come with a stylus and the ability to write notes but I don't know how well it works. I'm guessing not up to the standard the OP wants.
As do the previous Sony PRS-950, -650, and -350. On my 350, handwriting notes is laggy. If I write too fast, somehow some of the letters aren't as tall as I wrote them. Also, it has no palm rejection, requiring me to "float" my writing hand in the air when writing onto the upper left of the screen, even on the smaller 5" screen of the 350.

It's a nice addition in a pinch for occasional notes, but not recommended as a regularly-used feature.
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:02 PM   #8
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- Pocketbook 903/912: uses the same stylus as Onyx and Hanvon but as far as I know it's not possible to take notes on it - if somebody knows otherwise, please let me know.
I have a PB 912. Note taking works just fine. There is a slight lag between writing and it appearing on the screen but it works fine.

I have a couple of blank 50 page pdf files I use to take notes in. Alas, I don't use it anymore as I find it is just a little bigger than I want to carry.

I have a PB 302 which is not nearly as good at taking notes. I would think the 600 series would be about as good as the 912.

IMO the PB software is superior to all others. One feature I like is the ability to have more than one book open at a time. It's easy to jump from one to another. I don't know of any other reader that can do this. That being said, my current reader is a heavily hacked Kobo Aura HD since I can't easily get a PB here in the USA.
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:59 PM   #9
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I have a PB 912. Note taking works just fine.
Thanks Jim, that's good to know. I spent a few minutes with a colleague's PB 903 but we couldn't figure out how to take handwitten notes on it. Then I read somewhere that note taking didn't work on the PB, but it may have been only that some of my pet functions were missing.

The next time you use your PB, would you mind checking which functions (listed under the "Software" section of my long post) actually work? I would really appreciate it.
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:13 PM   #10
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I still miss the Graffiti function on the Palm-based PDAs
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Old 10-24-2014, 07:35 PM   #11
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The next time you use your PB, would you mind checking which functions (listed under the "Software" section of my long post) actually work? I would really appreciate it.
I should have read the software section of your note a little more thoroughly. I would guess that you would say the the PB 912 can't take notes. Any notes are really just handwritten (scribbles if you will). You can highlight but it sounds like you are typing notes into your book. Really all the 912 can do is allow you to make handwritten annotations. For me that's good enough.

I have a Kobo that I use most of the time now. I've installed an alternate reader on it (Koreader) and I like the highlighting in Koreader. One nice feature is the ability to export highlights to Evernote. It's open source software and right now has some active development going on. I've contemplated doing some programming on it. Note taking might be a useful feature to add although it might be more than I want to bite off.
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Old 10-25-2014, 02:30 AM   #12
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No, you read it right the first time I was referring to handwritten "scribbles" the whole time, as this is what the OP needs.
I also use handwriting in meetings because it's much faster than typing with the stylus. (My Hanvon also has handwriting recognition, but you need to write much slower than you normally would.)
Another advantage of handwriting is that you can easily go back, cross out, draw arrows and other objects, circle/underline, etc.
In addition, research shows that you can better remember text you write by hand than text that you type.
So, if you could spend a minute or two to explore the scribble functionality of your PB and share it here, that would be great!
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Old 10-28-2014, 11:58 AM   #13
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I would really like something that would allow you to handwrite brief lists like grocery lists and to do lists. I would be even better if you could toggle between writing and erasing. A quick swipe of your thumb to remove done items from your list. My pockets seem to be always full of lists and notes. Having them right there in your kindle would be really nice.
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Old 10-29-2014, 01:39 PM   #14
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All e-ink devices that support handwriting also support erasing, so you can create lists and erase items when they become obsolete.
However, the remaining items will not shift up to take up the space - nor can you sort, filter, or search them, or add deadlines and alerts. For that you need a to-do application. I am not aware of an e-ink device that supports handwriting and has a built-in to-do application. Your best bet is an e-reader with Android which allows you to download hundreds of to-do apps on the Google Play Store. I think currently the Onyx Boox M96 fits the bill, but it's quite large and expensive, and does not support touch - so you can't "swipe your thumb" to clear items, you would need to use the stylus.
Netronix (the company which makes Kobo e-readers) recently demoed a 6.8-inch e-ink reader with Wacom, touch, and open Android. I don't know when it will come to market, but I believe it will be the first device to be able to do what you want (and a lot of others besides).
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Old 10-29-2014, 01:42 PM   #15
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I still miss the Graffiti function on the Palm-based PDAs
So do I It was a really nice way to enter text, and quite quick as well - can't compete with thumb-typing though when it comes to speed.
There are apps for Android phones that allow you to use Graffiti, if you're nostalgic.
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