Selwyn Electronics – DigiMemo A502 review

digital notepad to capture your handwriting
Photo of Selwyn Electronics – DigiMemo A502
£75

Consumer CAD equipment has always been a bit of a mixed bag; very few companies find a way to effectively combine the natural ergonomics of traditional media with the accuracy of digital input. Selwyn Electronics’ DigiMemo pad is an interesting new solution that allows you to write and draw on a paper-based pad, the contents of which you can later upload to your PC.

The DigiMemo A502 uses a collection of sensors in the pad to interpret an electromagnetic signal activated by a microswitch inside the pen when it is pressed on the paper. It’s ingenious stuff and, in terms of accurately copying what you’ve written or drawn on the paper, works flawlessly.

The A502 is effective through up to 12mm of paper, storing your writing and diagrams in 32MB of built-in memory, although there is a supplemental Compact Flash card slot for increasing the capacity.

Each page of paper you write on is stored as a virtual page in the pad’s memory and you use a set of control buttons to move through virtual page storage spaces when you move on to another piece of paper. For this reason it’s useful to actually write the new page number at the top of every new piece of paper so you don’t overlay one block of text onto another in the virtual pad.

How you use the pad really depends on what you want to do with the information you’ve written down. The software supplied allows you to transfer the pages as images into a digital form to include in e-books or to e-mail out. If this is your aim then the pad is as flexible as you need it to be; the DigiMemo is excellent in that it captures every detail of what you’ve written on the page accurately on screen.

If you want to convert what you’ve written to text, you’ll find that the MyScript Notes software provided has built-in handwriting recognition. The accuracy of this technology is always under scrutiny and you do have to write quite neatly if you want to minimise the reading and corrections you’ll have to carry out when the conversion is complete.

If you happen to have neat handwriting anyway, you may well find you get a high accuracy rate without too many errors. Unfortunately, those of us who have found their handwriting reduced to hieroglyphic scrawl after being camped on a keyboard for too many years will have to make an extra effort to make this method worthwhile.

Company: Selwyn Electronics

Contact: 01732 765105


Verdict
The DigiMemo pad is a niche solution but does work well for its intended purpose. If you want to use such a notepad on the move then the DigiMemo A502 is certainly good at what it does. Keen doodlers might also appreciate getting some of their more impressive works on screen.