A month ago Jackie sent me an email with the subject line of “Interesting Product” and a link to the Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet from Improv Electronics. It looked interesting to me too, so I posted a quick news blurb about it and kept waiting for it to come in stock so that I could buy one to try it for myself. I got lucky a few weeks ago and was able to order one through Amazon. I’ve been playing with it the last few days and here are my thoughts.
Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet
Stainless steel telescoping stylus
The Boogie Board is a 8.75 x 5.5 inch thin plastic slate that will remind us 40 somethings of the Magic Slates from our childhood. Remember the waxy black cardboard tablets with a thin layer of grey plastic that you would draw on with a plastic stylus? When you wanted to make a new drawing, you would just lift the plastic to erase the ‘screen’. The Boogie Board has taken that concept and modernized it.
The Boogie Board tablet does not need an on or off button because it does not require any power to continue displaying what has been written on the LCD. In that way, it is similar to e-ink ebook readers like the Kindle and Nook. According to an article in the March 2010 article of Popular Science:
The Boogie Board sandwiches trillions of liquid crystals—tiny modules that arrange themselves in spirals—between two sheets. At rest, the screen appears dark because the spirals lie in a way that lets outside light pass through to the black plastic below. But direct pressure causes the spirals to stand upright. Light then bounces off them, naturally creating a bright Whitish color, no energy-hogging light needed. The image stays put without power, unlike a traditional LCD, because polymers mixed in with the liquid crystals help keep them in place. To erase, you press a button that sends a charge between the plastic sheets (which are coated with conductive film) and re-scatters the spirals.
It’s always ready for you to write or draw on it. Just take the included stylus and write on it the way you would with a pen and paper. Since the board does not have a spongy surface, it feels surprisingly similar to writing on paper. It almost feels magical the way the ‘ink’ flows out of the stylus on to the screen. I know that sounds crazy, but it sort of feels that way. Like you’re writing with a super smooth magic marker.
When you want to clear the board for a new drawing, you press the Erase button at the top. The board flashes (like a Kindle) and then turns Black again, ready for new notes and scribbles that will stay there till you press the Erase button again.
The Boogie Board does not have a back light and unlike the images shown on Boogie Board’s own site, the ink is not neon Green. As you can see (click on the images for a larger view), it’s more of a light Grey. You won’t be able to read the board in the dark, but you’ll have no problem viewing it in a normally lit room.
Writing and drawing on the table is a lot of fun. I found myself doodling like I haven’t done in years. But that’s where the bummer comes in… you can’t save anything that you write or draw on the board. I guess you could take a picture of it with a camera, but that isn’t too convenient.
Another bummer is that the battery that powers the Boogie Board is not user replaceable. Once it’s depleated, the board is useless. According to the Boogie Board site, that’s around 50,000 erase cycles.
Other than the fact that this product has a somewhat limited lifespan, the only other complain I have is that there isn’t a clip or tether for the the stylus.
I hope there will be a version 2.0 of the Boogie Board that somehow allows image saving and maybe even other ink colors. But until then, this is a fun little product that I’ve enjoyed testing and using.
There are now a few accessories available for the Boogie Board:
The Magnet and Stylus Clip set pictured on the left includes a few magnets that you can stick on the back of the Boogie Board so that you can slap it on your fridge or file cabinet. Also included is plastic clip that holds the stylus. $2.97
There’s also a neoprene sleeve that has a sewn in stylus holder. $9.95
Both of these items are available on Amazon.