14 July, 2008

Who uses Digital Pens?? saw the zPen reviewed on fives GadgetShow


After watching UK channel fives Gadget show tonight, I was really impressed with a new digital pen that has just been released in the UK. Part of the show is called the 'Focus Group' and tonight they did it on Computer Peripherals. They included:

Anyway I have been looking for a digital pen for some time, so was really happy to see this on TV. Everyone likes to write things down.. telephone calls, meeting notes, brainstorming. Trying to use a Wacon tablet with OneNote was a real PITA. Also when I attend my monthly team meeting, all of us are sitting behind laptop screens, checking email and not engaging with the meeting.

Digital pens have been around for some time, but have always needed a special tablet, or special paper. I don't mind putting some money down upfront, but I do NOT want to keep having to buy new paper everytime it runs out. Also, it needs to be portable.. The Dane Elec zPen should be, and according to theUS Amazon site you should be able to:

  • WRITE with the pen, on any kind of paper (with the receiver on top of your page)

  • DOWNLOAD your handwritten notes on your PC and view them on screen

  • FIND keywords back on your handwritten notes

  • CONVERT your handwritten notes in digital text, to use it on your standard word processing software applications

It takes standard biro refills, and apart from one downside - the battery life does not seem to be that great - it looks a sure fire winner! It has the ability to upload 1Gb of data (using a proprietary .eli format) which creates PDFs, and these can then be OCR'ed to your text editor of choice.. Maybe I can convince the boss to buy 25 of them and tell everyone to turn the laptops off!

So I need to know if anyone has used this yet?? Any US or UK customers willing to point me to a couple of reviews? google didnt bring much back I'm afraid.. and there is no zPen wikipedia page (there is one for digital paper)


  1. Hey... Our company has a version of Digital Pens that does use the special paper but the reason for it is to collect the data in fields. The application of this tool is to replace the inquiry cards college recruiters use when going to high schools or other recruiting events.

    In short, students fill out the cards with these pens, and the recruiters upload the data at the end of the day to the laptop. From there, a simple upload process to our system generates a personalized (branded) email to the student. Taking it to the final degree, the email could actually contain a link to a personalized portal for the student, complete with links and events based upon the interests they identify on the form.

    Anyhow...thought you'd be interested. Here's the product - www.azorus.com/digital_recruit.html

  2. @Susan - The first link took me to a hidden page, but I soon found the page, and found it very useful!

    @tobykeeping - cheers for letting me know about your product. I understand where you position your pen in the market, and it may even be useful for companies who hold events to quickly capture feedback from participants as they leave!

    UPDATE-- also found a great NewYork Times article - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/technology/personaltech/03pogue.html - entitled "Digital Pens to Write on Any Paper" .. good comparison between The Mobile Digital Scribe (from Iogear) and the ZPen (from Dane-Elec)

  3. Hey, great article and comments. I found more in a couple of minutes here than I did Googling, thanks everyone.
    I just saw this pen on the Gadget Show repeat and I'm wondering if it'll be useful for note-taking during lectures and seminars when I start my PhD...

  4. I bought a Z-Pen about two months ago. It worked just fine for about a week and then it just stopped working for two days. It would not turn on despite being charged overnight. Then as best I can tell, it spontaneously started working again and then stopped again. It is working now but who knows how long it will continue. Others have written some very negative reviews of this gadget. I've tried twice to get the people at Dane-Elec to answer my emails with no success. I suggest that people wait until this company has the problems sorted out. In the meantime, I am just scanning my written notes.

  5. Jewellery...

    an interesting take on a interesting topic....

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