LogiPen LogiNotes Digital Pen Input Device Review

Did you ever get stuck as the official notes-taker for a meeting?  It’s not so bad if you can take your laptop in and type them up as you go, but it’s a pain if that’s not an option.  You can photocopy your handwritten notes, but sometimes you’re expected to get them into the computer.  There are some digital pens out there that allow you to upload handwritten notes to your computer, but they require you to use special, expensive papers.  LogiPen has introduced a new digital pen that allows you to take notes on your own paper, upload them to your computer, then save them as an image file or convert them to text.  When LogiPen offered a LogiNotes pen to The Gadgeteer for review, I told Julie I’d like to give it a try.

What’s in the box:
Digital pen
Receiver unit
2 pen batteries (SR41)
Standard ink refill
Stylus tip
USB cable
Quick reference guide
LogiManage software and MS Office Plug-in CD



System Requirements:
Microsoft Windows XP (SP2), Vista, Windows 7, and Mac OS 10.5 (limited version)
50 MB available hard disk space
Minimum screen resolution: 1024 X 768 pixels
32 bit color quality

Specifications:
Coverage area: up to A4 page (size: 210 X 297 mm, or 8.3 X 11.7 inches)
Resolution:  100 dpi
Connector: USB
Standards:  CE and FCC compliant

The instructions with the LogiNotes system say to install the batteries and ink refill in the pen, connect the base unit (receiver) to the computer with the included USB cable to charge the battery (battery type not specified in included documents), then load up the software.  (Since it could take up to 12 hours to fully charge the receiver, I had plenty of time to load up the software and read the documentation!)  I was told to go to the LogiPen support page to download the most recent version of the software.  I have 64-bit Windows Vista, and I was a little worried to see I was getting a beta version of the LogiManage software.

Click to enlarge.

Just a note here about all the photos below this point.  Many of them are screen captures.  A few of them will show the full workspace of the program.  Some of them I have cropped to show only the information of interest to save space.  Also, the LogiManage software defaults to using a blue-lined background for the uploaded page.  The LogiPen isn’t able to import the design of the actual paper you wrote on.  You can change the background page layout to blank, grid, or lined.

Handwritten note entered directly into the computer with receiver connected via USB.

The LogiManage software controls getting data from the receiver to the computer.  A conversion program, to convert your handwriting to text, is required.  Vista has a native handwriting conversion program, Digital Ink.  While the receiver is connected to the computer via USB, you can use the LogiNotes pen/receiver and LogiManage to create handwritten notes and drawings directly on your computer.  You can export this data to Office Word files or to email as images or editable text.  You can also use the pen as a mouse, but I found it was difficult to use as a mouse.

You have to write on paper using the ink refill, or you can use the stylus tip and write on your mouse pad (I guess), to use the LogiNotes pen as a mouse.  It seems to fight with your regular mouse for control of the computer, unless it is allowed to time-out after one minute of non-use or unless you park it in the pen holder on the receiver.

Clip to hold receiver to a notepad. The bump on the bottom left is the USB socket.

The true beauty of the LogiPen LogiNotes system is that you can use the receiver to capture handwritten notes even when you aren’t connected to the computer.  Simply attach the receiver to the top of your paper or notepad (up to A4 in size), and take notes using the pen transmitter.  According to the online documentation, the LogiNotes receiver can hold up to 150 full A4-sized pages.

The LogiPen system uses ultrasonic sounds to capture handwriting.  The pen transmits ultrasonic signals that are “heard” by microphones in the base unit.  The LogiPen system calculates how long the signal takes to reach the microphones in the receiver to determine your hand movements and position on the paper.

Scan of page from my notebook.

So how well does the LogiNotes work to capture handwritten notes?  I clipped the receiver to my notebook, traced around the bottom of the receiver to show its placement on my page, and then I started writing.  I tried handwriting, printing, and drawing. I made notes at various places on the page so I could see the limits of coverage.  (I was using 8.5 X 11 inch paper, instead of the A4 paper.)  I have a couple of screen captures to show the text as it appears when uploaded by the LogiManage software, and as it appears after conversion to text.  I also scanned my actual notebook page so you can see the original.  You can see that the uploaded image matches the actual image well.  There is missing data from the extreme right/left sides of the page, and the data I wrote near the top of the page, at the sides of the receiver, is missing.  I can store this as a note (.ant file) that can be read by the LogiManage program, or I can export it as an image (PNG or gif file), ISF, MHTM, txt, or RTF file.  I can also send the file to email or to Microsoft Word, which I’ll talk about more in a bit.

Page as captured by LogiNotes. (Click to enlarge.)

Rest of the page as captured by LogiNotes. (Click to enlarge.)

Results of converting handwritten page to text within LogiNotes. (Click to enlarge.

I tried converting the page to text, and I did not get good results.  The drawing and math formulas didn’t convert at all, and the text was jumbled and didn’t match what I had written.  I probably shouldn’t doodle on my notes pages anymore.  I decided I’d try writing another page with only words to see if that will convert to text with better results.

Original of page with no drawings. (Click to enlarge)

Uploaded file in LogiManage. (Click to enlarge.)

Page converted to text. (Click to enlarge.)

I have another series of photos here showing a scan of my original handwritten page, the page as it appears in the LogiManage software, and as it appears after conversion in LogiManage.  For some reason, the uploaded page has one line curving up at the end, and the second “L” in will in the third sentence is missing.  You can see that the text still didn’t convert properly.  I wonder if this is because the version I’m using is a beta version.  In any event, I think exporting the uploaded page as an image will work better than the text conversion.

Page exported to Microsoft Word. (Click to enlarge.)

There is another method to convert the page to text.  You can export the page to email or to Microsoft Word as an image or as text.  The above example shows the page exported to Word as text.  This is a much better conversion that could be quickly corrected.  If I could not use an image of my handwritten page, I’d export it to Word for what seems a much quicker clean-up.

I find the LogiPen LogiNotes system to be a great method of capturing handwritten notes for later transferal to my computer.  I don’t know if the problems with conversion to text within LogiManage is due to the beta version I’m using or because of the Vista handwriting recognition utility, but I hopefully it will improve in the official release for 64-bit Vista.  It’s really not a problem because exporting the page as text to Microsoft Word seems to work well, and I can always keep my notes as an image file.  LogiNotes will make transferring notes to my computer a snap, and it won’t require any expensive paper.

Edited to add pictures requested by Bryan:

I only use Circa notebooks – I don’t even own a legal pad – so I hope this picture shows what you wanted to see.

In the second picture, you can see the receiver is small enough that I can leave it on my paper and still zip the notebook.



 

Product Information

Price:$129.99
Manufacturer:LogiPen
Pros:
  • Rechargeable batteries in receiver
  • Doesn't require special paper
  • Can capture up to 150 pages of notes
Cons:
  • Problems with converting to text
Posted in: Computer Gear, Laptops and Gear, Reviews

28 comments… add one

  • Bryan Sherman February 26, 2010, 11:52 am

    Interesting product. I would love to see pics of the receiver attached to the notebook. I have similar “success” converting my LiveScribe pages to text, but have really found having the digitized handwriting to be enough. Can you search on the written pages without converting? The Livescribe let’s you do it, and it works better than OCR.

    I adore my LiveScribe pen (you can check out the related posts link). I didn’t think I would like having to buy special paper, but the notebooks are pretty inexpensive, and they have a variety of formats. I also like the ability to record audio and sync it to the notes. This has been indispensable for what I use it for. Love to see strong competitors to keep companies on their feet, though.

    BTW, I actually bought my Livescribe over a year ago based on Julie’s review (and before I started reviewing here).

  • Janet Cloninger February 26, 2010, 10:44 pm

    Bryan, I’ll get a photo for you this weekend. Apparently, you can only search when you are in handwritten note mode – entering text directly into the computer. I can’t find any way that you can search the uploaded notes. I’ll play around with that a bit, too.

  • DP February 27, 2010, 12:43 pm

    To me, the $64,000 question is whether it can get searchable notes into Microsoft OneNote. That’s something the Livescribe pen can’t do, so if this pen can, it would be a major selling point.

  • Janet Cloninger February 28, 2010, 1:21 am

    Bryan, I hope the added pictures show what you need. This is the only type of notebook I have, so I don’t know how it would look attached to something like a legal pad. I also can’t find any way that I can search in the image file.

    DP, the only option is to export the files to Word. You can export it as an image or as a converted file.

  • shayish February 28, 2010, 3:27 pm

    full text search in onenotes is possible
    send ink to word => copy the ink => paste into OneNote
    and viola the hand write strokes are searchable and highlighted
    i hope it will be improved in future version so i can send it directly into OneNote
    overall logipen is a great digital pen for onenote if this is what you are looking for

  • yz March 25, 2010, 12:39 pm

    In the brief time that I was able to play with the pen, both writing and mouse functions seemed to work well, although the mouse movement took a bit of getting used to.

    I did experience hardware problems with the receiver, which was unfortunate as I had to send the entire unit back to be exchanged. I found it unusual that despite already paying shipping costs (international shipping between the US and Canada), I was required to pay them again in order to cover the product exchange. Aside from the shipping fees being a bit of a disappointment, overall I found their customer service prompt and helpful.

  • Joe April 6, 2010, 7:41 am

    If you are looking to interface with Onenote, see Adapx.com.

    Thanks

    Joe

  • Roger June 16, 2010, 12:09 am

    what is the size of say a 2-3 page file?

  • Janet Cloninger June 16, 2010, 7:59 am

    @Roger I’m sorry, but I don’t have the LogiPen any more to check it out for you.

  • bari June 19, 2010, 2:33 am

    files size of each page i download is around 40-60kb average .
    as for the MS OneNote question its simpler that the answer here
    all you need to do is to copy the ink strokes and paste it in OneNote thats all
    once the strokes are in MS OneNote you can do what ever you feels like ( transform your handwriting into text or manipulate the ink in many ways )
    i am using logipen notes for a while now and i must say that i am very happy with the results it gives me

  • Nathans Schor July 1, 2010, 7:44 pm

    I’m impressed! Your review of this product is excellent and thorough. If only all (or even a sizable minority) of reviews were this competent gadget users lives would be much improved. We all owe you.

  • Janet Cloninger July 1, 2010, 10:20 pm

    @Nathans Schor Thank you! It’s nice of you to say so!

  • rafael July 6, 2010, 9:10 am

    i am using logipen as digital signature beside other fixtures, like it

  • Brian Smith July 13, 2010, 10:03 pm

    Do you have to unclip and reclip the receiver everytime you write on a new page?

  • Janet Cloninger July 14, 2010, 2:44 pm

    @Brian Smith I had to because I clipped it onto loose paper in a notebook. It’s big enough that it would probably need to be moved even with a legal pad. I no longer have the pen, so I can’t test that for you. Sorry.

  • rafael July 25, 2010, 1:07 am

    you can work w/o clip on logipen, you still write stable, the manufacturer have the trial run for working w/o clip,
    http://www.alphalogi.com is the manufacturer

  • Alex August 15, 2010, 11:10 am

    Thanks Janet for a very thorough review, and thanks also to all who responded with comments etc. This is very helpful. i have been trying to decide on which digital pen to buy and i am pretty much sold on this pen because of the interface to MS Office

  • Janet Cloninger August 15, 2010, 11:24 am

    @Alex I hope whatever you finally decide on works well for you!

  • Charles August 27, 2010, 2:34 pm

    Alex, will you share with me if logipen has satisfied you ?
    advisor2000@gmail.com
    I have to buy several digital inputs for our survey team and need to make the right choice.

  • Matt August 29, 2010, 3:20 am

    Hi Janet,

    Can you tell me how well it works when you have it connected straight to the PC and try to write into Word or maybe Powerpoint? I’m interested in using this or something like it to help present to my class in real-time. If there is a better pen for that sort of thing I’d love to hear about that too. Thanks in advance.

  • Janet Cloninger August 29, 2010, 12:57 pm

    @Matt I found that the LogiNotes pen worked better when I wasn’t trying to convert my handwritten notes into text. You can also write directly into Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. I admit I didn’t try that out, and I no longer have the pen available to me. However, there is a brief video about the pen on the LogiPen website that may help you. http://www.logipen.com/logipen-notes.php?&tab=2

  • Jack Lee September 2, 2010, 5:32 am

    Hi,
    I have bought a fujitsu digital notetaker, which I believe should have the same technology with the reviewed Logipen. It worked as advertised but I will return it and ask for refund.
    The reason is simple, it is very uncomfortable to write with this type of pen! When I push the pen tip on the paper and start to write, the tip just retract a little bit (probably to push a trigger behind) and this makes the writting very uncomfortable.
    Is that the same with your logipen?
    thanks!

  • Matt September 2, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Ok thanks much Janet, I think I’ll go ahead and take the plunge. I’ll be back after using it for presenting for awhile and report how well it works for that.

  • raf November 29, 2010, 10:12 am

    the Logiplayer http://www.logiplayer.com is spin LogiPen

  • raf December 8, 2010, 1:08 pm

    prfect XMAS present

  • raf December 13, 2010, 11:41 pm

    there is pack of 5 units? as XMAS pack

  • james October 16, 2011, 5:48 pm

    the closest ink refill i found is on this site

    http://www.coloradopen.com/category/multi-pen-refills

  • James July 12, 2013, 3:28 pm

    Never worked, even the IT people at work could get it to work, poor customer service, or I should say NO customer service, after repeated attempts to contact them I never got a response.

    JLC

Leave a Comment