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Review: Boogie Board RIP

I have the new Boogie Board RIP on my desk at the moment, and I have to say that it was a lot more interesting than I expected.

Early last year Improv Electronics shipped their first product, the Boogie Board. This was an 8.5″ digital writing tablet based around a new type of cholesteric LCD screen.

This isn’t your average tablet.  It might have a new hi-tech screen, but Improv built a product that behaved as not much more than a sophisticated etch-a-sketch. You might also think of it as a digital whiteboard, because like a whiteboard the Boogie Board couldn’t show anything other than what you drew on it and it also couldn’t save your scribbles after the screen was wiped.

That not being able to save the screen killed the idea for me. At least, it killed any interest I might have had in the first gen Boogie Board; the Boogie Board RIP is a whole other matter.

Given that this is an ebook reader blog, you can probably guess that I’m interested in screen tech. So I’ve been keeping an eye on the Boogie Board, and about 2 months back Improv Electronics shipped their second gen device, the Boogie Board RIP. This model costs a lot more, but it adds that one key feature that I wanted.

Now I can save the screen shot as a PDF.

The RIP has only 4 functions. You can scribble, clear the screen, and you can save the screen as a PDF.  After you save the PDF, you can then transfer it to your PC via a USB cable. The RIP has 8MB of storage, and that’s enough space for thousands of single page PDFs (each is about 2k in size.)

And there’s also a 4th function. After you install the companion software (Windows only), you can plug the RIP into your computer and use it as a Wacom type of writing slate. You cannot do anything more than the same 3 functions you had when it wasn’t attached, and I think it’s actually more useful unplugged. But it’s still cool.

You can draw on the black monochrome screen with almost anything, but a stylus works best (one is included). In a pinch you could use a pen with the cap on.

As you scribble, your marks will show up as gray lines on the screen. I found that the best way to use it was to write at a normal speed. This was quite readable. Also, if I scribble quickly the lines get thin, but if I draw at about writing speed then the lines are more visible.

It took me a few minutes to learn the best way to use it, but once I did I began to see the value. This tablet would make a great semi-permanent sign. I know someone who has the original $40 Boogie Board and uses it as a whiteboard (an alternative to notes on the fridge), but that’s just one use.

This tablet doesn’t quite do what I need but it’s interesting none the less. I seriously considered bringing it to CES so I could take notes on it, but eventually I realized that I usually needed to start any set of notes with a couple entries that I wrote at home. And when I go to a trade show, I usually have a dozen or more sets. That means I need to have a pad of paper with the starter notes, and once I have the pad I might as well stay with it.

But if I didn’t need to start my notes with saved info then the RIP would be great. This tablet could make a great replacement for paper notes in certain situations. For example, it might be usable for a student in a lecture.

On the other hand, it does save the notes as only single page PDFs. I can easily foresee that by the time I took a few dozen pages of notes, sorting through them will be rather annoying. I wish it could concatenate the pages into a single file or that the RIP offered screenshots instead of the PDFs.

Still, this is a neat little gadget. If you get a chance to see it at CES 2012 (or some other trade show), you should.

Improv Electronics

Companion Software Download

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Void January 5, 2012 um 4:00 pm

I will not be interested till I can selectively erase. I would use this mostly for working on physics equations, and having to clear the whole screen and start over to fix a minus sign error is simply no acceptable. Until then I will stick with my whiteboard, pens with erasers on the cap, and Evernote (to record the picture of the board before I erase).

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Lily June 4, 2013 um 2:00 am

Does the boogie board have to be plugged into the computer to erase? I just got mine today and I can’t get it to erase unless I have it attached to the computer! That is not cool as I am not with my computer all the time….

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