Alternatives to PenPresenter – looking for a real-time Digital Pen
My search for a digital pen has taken a new direction.
I’m basically looking for something that will allow me to draw on a notepad, and display it on my laptop and a projector live and in real-time. Yep, a tablet can do that, but I travel, so it needs to be light, easy to carry just in case I need it, and work without fuss.
I was looking at the Anoto PenPresenter. Anoto are the force behind the ‘digital paper’ used by many of these products, where a nearly-invisible unique pattern is printed on paper, and a pen with an embedded camera can recognise exactly where it is. PenPresenter looks great, but it’s hard to find in the UK, and costs over £300. The big sell is that it allows you to print a presentation with the pattern overlaid, so you can then write comments on the paper copy as you’re giving it. Great. But I just want to draw a few diagrams, don’t need, or want, to print my presentation first, and I don’t have the 600dpi Oki laser printer that’s necessary to create the pattern.
Logitech IO2, which seemed to be similar, appears not to display in real-time (apparently the pen is streaming- capable, but not enabled with Logitech’s software or licence). Also, you can’t find them anywhere, and they’ve now sold out to Destiny, who are using the tech more for real-time form filling in blue-collar jobs. No sales presentations here.
So – by a chance search for ‘Digital Pen’ on Amazon, I’ve found a few other options.
A load of companies appear to have OEM’d a system based on a corner sensor – one of them being IOGear. Look at Amazon, and several companies are basically selling the same tech, with the same sensor and pen. This looks great, in that it even works on normal paper – you place the sensor on the corner of the pad, and then it detects the precise position of the pen. The disadvantage is a bulky ultrasound transmitter near the nib, which requires quite vertical writing. The sensor’s small and, now, wireless, so it’s portable. This was my preferred option, until I found Papershow.
Livescribe looks fantastic – if you’re taking notes. It not only records what you’re writing, but the audio at that time. You can then play back the audio by tapping on the text you wrote at that time. Genuis idea. But doesn’t help my presentation.
Papershow, from Oxford, looks much like PenPresenter. It also seems to do what PenPresenter can, including real-time display, and even live presentation markup. Its a lot cheaper – around £120. The main differences seem to be that you have to use their USB dongle as a receiver and file store, and you can’t print the pattern – instead, you print onto special paper purchased with the pattern pre-printed (by Oxford, of course). Sounds like a good option, as I can buy pads, and don’t then need the 600dpi printer. They’ve also got some fairly entertaining videos with Phil Jupitus.
Papershow it is!