Rocketbook Beacons review

REVIEW – I love my Rocketbooks – I have a couple of Executive and Letter sized Everlast notebooks that I routinely use.  So when the folks at Rocketbook announced they would solve the corporate problem of distributing pictures of whiteboards used in meetings, I asked to move to the head of the line to take a look.  Let’s see how well they solve this problem!

What is it?

The Rocketbook Beacon is part of the Rocketbook family of products designed to help you get notes into the tools you use every day.  Beacons are foam triangles with microsuction backs that you can place, use and reuse as many times as you like.  Content within the beacons can be captured and processed by the Rocketbook app on either your Android or iOS device, and then sent to a number of locations like Evernote, OneNote, email, Google Drive, Dropbox and more.

What’s in the box?

Four reusable and restickable foam triangles

How does it work?

I placed the 4 beacons on my whiteboard next to my desk.  Here is the raw picture of the board with the beacons in place:

There is a fair amount of glare on the board from the window on the opposite wall.  I left the blinds open because in a conference room – unless you are using an old-school projector – this is the scenario you will likely be dealing with.  The beacons are placed in the corners of the board and will form the rectangle within which the Rocketbook app will do its magic.

One interesting note – if you contain some text within double hashtags, Rocketbook will process this text as a title.  If your destination is OneNote (for example), whatever is contained within the double hashtags will become the page title.  In this case, I called my board Meeting Smart, although in the real world I would probably have used the name of the meeting.

If you are prolific during your meeting and end up with multiple whiteboards, Rocketbook can handle that, too.  Not as single pages, but rather as a collection, making it easy to keep your meeting information organized and searchable.

So, with content to collect and the beacons in place, it is time to launch the Rocketbook app.

As you can see from the capture screen in the app, you can select either a Rocketbook or Beacons.  I normally use the Rocketbook but Beacons works exactly the same except that once the camera processor senses the 4 beacons, it will automatically snap the picture.

Once the picture is snapped you can continue to collect images (helpful if you have multiple whiteboards of data) or just hit Next to move on to processing.  In processing, Rocketbook will allow you to select multiple destinations.  You could send an email to a distribution group, send the images as PDF files to either Evernote or OneNote, send it to a Slack channel or a Trello board, save it in Google Photos and your usual cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox.  This is Rocketbook’s secret sauce – they support most of the commonly used tools and services, so it easy to get the data where you need it.

I chose OneNote, and here is the notebook it landed in (note – no pun intended – that the Meeting Smart label between the hashtags was processed as the page title).

Well, one minor annoyance: because Rocketbook brings the pictures in as PDF files, the page title, as well as the document title, are the full name – including the PDF extension in the page title.  Seems like that should be something easy to fix, but the problem has been around forever.

Earlier I mentioned that my office has an abundance of light which causes glare/reflection on my whiteboard.  The first few experiments with the Beacons I was unable to get large portions of the whiteboard to capture.  In almost every attempt the hashtag title was not recognized (in the OneNote screen above you will see one such experiment – because the title was not recognized, Rocketbook assigned it a default timestamp as the file name/title).  There were also parts of the main section of the board which were not captured.  After a couple of tries, I closed the blinds and also re-oriented my monitors so I could remove as much light as possible.  The image below from the PDF file shows the best quality I could obtain.

In regular photo captures you can (mostly) see the text that has been obscured by light (see the raw capture near the top).  Rocketbook’s image processing, however, seems to be cropping that out of the end result.  If this is going to be useful in a corporate environment, Rocketbook needs to fix this ASAP.

What I like

  • The number of destinations you can send captures to
  • When it works it is a real time saver

What I’d change

  • There are some image processing bugs that need to be addressed quickly

Final thoughts

Although there are some issues with image processing, these all seem like things that can be resolved quickly.  With the launch of Beacons today, Rocketbook certainly has the time to turn a good idea into a great product via a fix in the app.  The current version of the app on Android is v3.1.11.  If the image processing issues are resolved in the next update, I’d highly recommend Beacons.  At the moment, though, I cautiously recommend it.  If you can live with the issues as they stand today, these could be a great solution to a problem we’ve all had.

Price: $15
Where to buy: From Rocketbook or Amazon
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Rocketbook.

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