While I don’t anticipate 100% adoption anytime soon, I try to keep my office as paper-free as possible.  However, as an attorney, I take copious notes about everything – from telephone calls to conversations, to work in progress.  Unfortunately, there is a large part of my note-taking that is not easily (or at all) done on the computer due to location, manners, and convenience, so I need to be sure I have the ability to take hand-written notes anytime, anyplace.

I’ve tried using my tablet, and while I like EverNote for organizing personal projects (mostly because my tablet is nearly always handy outside of my office), I don’t like it for note-taking because the tablet surface is too slick and overly-responsive to accidental touch.  I’ve used my tablet at conferences (particularly before I started using the technologies that are the focus of this series of posts), but it was a struggle and distracting to my listening.

I’ve tried several technologies, and all have their pros and cons.  Mostly (and I can’t stress this enough FutureLawyer), it comes down to personal preference – what works for YOU (or, in this case, what works best for me).

My analysis is based upon what I need in a note-taking device: 

  • Convenient and reliable note-taking
  • Digital capture and transfer to my computer (or some other storage location that I regularly use)
  • Migration toward the complete elimination of physical paper
  • Added features – Transcription of handwriting to text

The top technologies that I am going to review are LiveScribe, Rocketbook, and Remarkable, and they are “top” because of almost completely different reasons.

Black Dolphin Aegir SmartPen

LiveScribe Aegir Smart Pen is the current name of the technology that started out as Echo.  I had an Echo when it was first released, and liked it well enough, but it was large, clunky, and hard to hold.  LiveScribe pen is much smaller pen profile, and much easier to use (and they FINALLY made a version that is black (Black Dolphin, pictured) and not pastel green or pink (really? for professional applications?)

PROS

  • Good digital transcription and formats to PDF
  • Extremely portable
  • Records audio (the only format that does this) and can link audio with the relevant section of notes
  • Easily syncs to any smart device for live transcription or uploading via Bluetooth or direct connection
  • Affordable – $120 via Amazon, plus the cost of notebooks (comes with one)

CONS

  • Requires paper (see above for “paperless goals”).  Also, requires specially-printed paper in the form of a wide-assortment of notebooks and tablets, or you can print your own from a downloadable template.
  • Monochrome – no color – the Aegir might be different – I’ve only used it with one color
  • Requires ink refills – small ink cartridges that are sometimes hard to get.  Watch out for cheap knock-offs of questionable quality.  You can get ink colors, but they don’t upload as color (that I can tell – the Aegir might be different)
  • Lack of confidence that the device is capturing text when you are writing.  With the Echo, especially, and with the LiveScribe, rarely, I have written along, decided to download, and then realized the pen wasn’t working (battery low).  I do not want to have to go to the trouble of launching the “receiving device” when I reach for a pen to write, just to be sure the silly thing is capturing text.
  • Requires paper (this is a big problem for digital-only-wannabes)
  • Demographic is more for students and others who have a need to capture audio recording along with notes.  More bells (audio recording) than I need.

My favorite tech-attorney, FutureLawyer highly recommends this device and has used it since Echo. (While I follow his recommendations on a lot of tech, my husband actually purchased my first Echo for me as a gift).  I agree with him that the Aegir is a vast improvement over the Echo, and once the desktop application was available, I was on board.  I use this primarily for specific projects that require extensive and on-going notetaking, so I have a single, bound volume to store with the rest of the paper file (while “paperless ” is a goal in my office, I recognize that it is not entirely achievable, and still have a fair amount of paper files – though vastly less paper than 10 years ago).

Unfortunately, this is only one of my digital tools, and will likely never be my “go-to” for digital note-taking.  I never use it outside the office because of that “lack of confidence” thing.

Rating – 7 out of 10:  Excellent for what it is made to do – take notes which can be automatically uploaded to the cloud or computer, and record audio.  However, it lacks a lot of the features I’m looking for.

 

 

 

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