Much has changed in the world of pen computing since I argued three years ago that it should be written off. One source of my dissatisfaction with the whole notion was the awkward usage of a stylus, something that Apple has banished with the iPhone. (It also banished the thumbboard, though, something I remain more keen on).
Now that the stylus is on the run from the mobile device, it’s trying to set out on its own in the guise of the ordinary ballpoint. One of the main approaches toward enabling the digital pen are from Anoto, which requires the use of special dotted paper. It’s been a success for Leapfrog with the FLY anf FLY Fusion, and is now being used in the Tag successor to the hugely successful Leap Pad. It’s been a failure for Logitech with the IO and IO2, but is also the underlying technology behind the imminent LiveScribe Pulse smart pen which slickly marries it with voice recording..
Another approach, such as that from Israeli firm EPOS. tends to cost less and don’t require any special paper. However, it needs some kind of receiver, sometimes enbedded within the top of a clipboard. I’ve tried a few such products through the years and found them to work quite well. The new IOgear product is not based on EPOS technology, but the implementation is more similar to how EPOS works. At $50 less than the entry-level LiveScribe product, it is just ahead of and costs less than its higher-tech competitor. Still, both face a rough terrain in extending computing to the province of pen and ink.