Magic Slates for the 21st Century

Did you have a Magic Slate as a kid? It’s a thin cardboard pad with a dark rubber-like bottom layer and a thin sheet of opaque plastic on top. You could draw on it with a stylus, creating dark lines. Then to start over, you would peel up the plastic, lay it back down and your canvas would be cleared. Definitely NOT a high tech tablet/drawing tool. Enter the The Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet. It’s an electronic alternative to paper, pencils, and pens. Like the Magic Slate, you can draw on it with a stylus or your finger. But to clear the screen, you just press a button. They are available for $29.97 at Amazon.

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16 comments… add one
  • Mark February 4, 2010, 1:04 pm


    They are currently unavailable at Amazon but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more.

    That would be so convenient at home on the fridge or at work playing with design ideas. I use a whiteboard now but this would be handy for on the go sketching.

    • Julie February 4, 2010, 1:12 pm

      @Mark Darn! I have known about the Boogie Board for awhile now. Jackie Cheng sent it to me in an email. But I waited for Amazon to get them back in stock before I posted about it. They were in stock this morning, so I posted. 🙁 I managed to order one for myself. I hope it actually ships. Follow them on twitter and you’ll know when they back back in stock. @Boogie_Board

  • David Simpson February 4, 2010, 2:07 pm

    Is there any way to save the drawing?

  • Woofb February 4, 2010, 2:38 pm

    It sounds as if this would be seriously cool if there was any way to store the graphics

  • Sandee Cohen February 4, 2010, 2:39 pm

    I’m with David Simpson on the need to save the drawing. As a coach, I would want to be able to leaf back and forth between the past six or seven drawings.
    I would also like to be able to save a certain number of drawings and then transfer them (via a micro SD or USB cable) to a computer.
    I like the idea of replacing paper.
    But even a pad of paper can save several drawings. And I can always scan them into a computer later.

    Yes, I know the Gadgeteer doesn’t make these things. I will send this post to the makers of the Boogie Board.

    • Julie February 4, 2010, 2:43 pm

      You could take a picture of the board 🙂

  • Don Holt February 4, 2010, 6:01 pm

    Way too cool, and thanks for the trip down memory lane about the Magic Slates!! 🙂 Now, if I ever had enough talent to draw stick men that actually LOOKED like stick men!!
    Awww, I want it anyway!!! I won’t have to worry about ripping that top heavy plastic page with my red plastic stylus anymore!!!

  • Justin Roberts February 4, 2010, 6:21 pm

    Apparently the iPad will be able to do this after a firmware update.


  • Blacknimbus February 4, 2010, 6:45 pm

    This always seems to be out of stock….glad you snagged one. You’ll have to do a review when/if you get it.

    • Julie February 5, 2010, 9:27 am

      @Blacknimbus They are supposed to have more today and Monday. Just follow them on twitter to find out when they are available.

  • Don Holt February 4, 2010, 6:57 pm

    @ Justin . . you may be on to something here . . . if it comes to “yeah, there’s a Boogle Board app for that” you MAY have actually uncovered something the iPad can do!!

  • Sam February 4, 2010, 8:19 pm

    These are an interesting application of a technology I’ve been keeping an eye on for awhile, cholesteric liquid crystal displays (ChLCD). ChLCD uses stable reflective liquid crystals, so like electrophoretic (“e-ink”), its reflective and doesn’t require power to maintain an image.

    Back in the mid-90s this seemed like a real competitor to e-ink, but apparently e-ink won this round for ebooks. One of the interesting things about ChLCD was that potentially you could have video rate updates for full motion; I guess something about that didn’t pan out since Kent Displays (the developer) doesn’t appear to talk about that anymore.

    Anyway, this is a neat application of ChLCD, where instead of making a traditional display, they use it to make a pressure sensitive surface using nearly no electronics and very cheap manufacturing. The pressure of a stylus changes the state of the liquid crystals underneath from nearly transparent so that the colored (in this case black) backing shows through to a color chosen to contrast well with the backing color. Power is used to erase the surface by resetting all the liquid crystals to transparent. There are no pixels here, it’s all one continuous surface.

    Apparently someone has figured out a way to read the state of these liquid crystals, but that would make for a much more expensive product, since you’d actually have to build a pixel array, instead of just a big glop.

  • BaldSpot February 5, 2010, 10:25 am

    How is this powered? User replaceable/rechargeable batteries? AC adapter? I want one of these by the phone.

  • Sam February 5, 2010, 1:01 pm

    BaldSpot: It has an embedded (nonreplaceable) watch battery. Their website claims that’s good enough for “over 50,000” times.

    It might be interesting to take one apart. The actual LC surface is probably flexible (think about wrapping it around something; if you can remove the backing, the surface should be translucent or perhaps even transparent. In theory you should be able to cut the surface into shapes with scissors, though you almost certainly need to do something about sealing the edges.

  • Jean-Denis Haas February 12, 2010, 8:41 pm

    I just got mine today and it’s awesome! So thin and the writing feel is great. Definitely excited for the “memory” version, but the current one is great for quick notes at home or in the car. Great price! Only thing I miss is a simple pen clip holder thingie, but that’s all.

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