Every so often you come across new technology which appears magic. The InkLink, from Seiko Instruments, is just such a piece of kit, enabling an ordinary pen and paper to become a computer input device for notes, diagrams and sketches. The paper can be any old pad that you’d like to draw or write on, and the pen, although it has to be the one supplied with the InkLink, uses a regular ball-pen refill.
The InkLink pen transmits the coordinates of its tip to a receiver, designed like the clip of a clipboard, which you attach to the top of a paper pad. This clip can be connected directly to a PC by the supplied USB cable, or through a small, infra-red transceiver to the port of a Palm or Pocket PC palmtop. The whole system is battery-powered and fits into a small carrying box about the size of a pencil case.
InkLink is designed to work with most Pocket PC devices and any Palm, Handspring or Sony Clié using Palm OS 3.1 or later. It also works with a notebook or desktop PC running Windows 95 or above, as long as it has an available USB socket.
In use, the InkLink does pretty much what it says on the box. Attaching the clip to a pad of up to around 50 sheets of paper and using the pen produced a respectable copy of both drawings and handwriting in the supplied InkNote Manager software, on the screen of the notebook we used for testing. InkNote Manager shows thumbnails of each note you transfer, for quick recognition when you need to call one up.
There’s no handwriting recognition built into the product, so any notes you take are purely bitmap representations of what you’ve written. This reduces its usefulness, as you still have to transcribe longer text notes into a word processor, but it’s very handy for taking in quick sketches, which you can then tidy up in a painting program. Being able to write or draw on an A4 pad is certainly a lot easier than being confined to the dimensions of a PDA screen.
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