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IOgear Mobile Digital Scribe offers Tablet PC without the PC

image 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.


  1. Mike Mike March 4, 2008

    I know, I’m biased (for multiple reasons); but I’m curious why you perceive the IOgear product as “just ahead” of the Pulse?

    No other digital pen captures audio; let alone at the same time as you write, and links the audio directly to your notes.

    When you factor in that you could be a horrible notetaker (both in your thoroughness and your handwriting), it seems to me that the audio portion of the data becomes well worth the extra cost.

    It also would worry me that with the IOgear, if you lose the receiver, you’re stuck with a dumbpen.

    The IOgear also requires “Office XP, 2003 or 2007”; unlikely to be a barrier for any professional user, but for a college student?

  2. Ross Rubin Ross Rubin March 4, 2008


    Good points. I wasn’t making a qualitative assessment, at least not yet. All I meant was that the product was shipping before the Pulse.

  3. steve robes steve robes July 16, 2008

    looks useless to me. why the excitement. what can you do with it ?

  4. Ross Rubin Ross Rubin July 17, 2008


    It’s a handy way to digitally capture information when a PC isn’t practical. It’s also handy for getting diagrams into a document without having to deal with a drawing program. You may have seen my Engadget columns on it and its competitors:

  5. Ryan Ryan November 21, 2008

    I’ve read your blog post of the Pulse smartpen and wanted to share some new commercial and demo videos that we just uploaded to the Livescribe YouTube channel:

    From now until 12/31/08, you can get 5% off a Pulse smartpen at by using SCRIBE5A50 at checkout. Thanks, and enjoy the videos!

  6. Tracy Gough Tracy Gough January 21, 2009

    Nice review of the IOGear Mobile Digital Scribe. Check out my review at Digital Pen Reviews to see what my thoughts were.

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