When Technology Fails: Problems with Digital Pens

Monday, June 03, 2013

Iris Executive Pen Two

When technology works it is a wonder. When it fails, frustration is the first response. Digitizing hand writing and drawings for editing and saving has promise. To take a drawing and manipulating it in software like Illustrator, or to turn handwriting into something a word processor can handle is an excellent idea. Sadly, the execution is still a work in progress.

Two companies have tackled the perplexing task of turning what is composed with pen on paper into something a computer can understand. Iris, a document based company, produced the Iris Executive Two. This device allows one to write on any paper and then digitize the handwriting and make it editable in a word processor.

digital pen

the digital pen

Wacom, a respected name in tablet design — they virtual dominate the designer realm of tablet software and hardware– have produced Inkling. What this program does is take drawings, on any paper, and allow them to be turned into vector graphics. The result is an image that be further manipulated in Photoshop, Illustrator or any number of applications that can handle vector graphics.

Both products showed promise. Initially, I was taken with both. The promise they entailed was enticing. Many handwriting digitizing solutions were lacking. If you did not have expensive dot laden paper, you were out of luck. From bulky pens to dotted paper, many companies have tried to make the process particle. Nearly all have failed in some manner.

Logitech, a well known name in peripherals, tacked the pen computer realm. They produced two iterations of a pen that transformed text to computer. Utilizing specialty paper, the kind you cannot simply reproduce on a printer, and having some awkward bases and pen sizes, they did work, more or less.

Two versions was all it took for Logitech to sell the technology. They left the business of digital pens. They never looked back. It was as if they were running from the disaster pen technology was becoming.

There are still companies around, but many require expensive paper that is not always easily accessible at your local computer slash office store.

What Iris promised was a pen that could work on any paper that was just like using an ordinary pen. Using metal for the pen, and a high end feel, the Executive looked promising. It worked as well as any other pen.

However, after owning one for a few months, mine became highly temperamental. The pen sometimes worked and at other times did not. After hours up hours of charging, the pen only intermittently worked.


The best sketch hardware software solution, well kind of

On the drawing side, Wacom introduced Inkling. The deal here is that you can draw on any paper and turn that drawing into something Illustrator or photoshop can handle. That sounds great. Imagine taking a sketch from raw idea to finished product. Coupled with their other offerings, inklings portability and deft handling of paper made it a great choice for design professionals.

Overlooking confounding software and some strange incompatibilities, Inkling worked amazingly well.
Then things turned south.

First, the case that holds the pen had a crack. The crack turned into a fissure. Without notice, the end of the pens holding and charging case cracked. That is right, cracked. This was not due to abuse. It simply wore out from a few uses.

To date, I am charging both products to see if they still work.

Seduced by the promise of taking handwriting and sketches from pent to computer is just something too irresistible to an artist, writer, educator or any professional that needs fast storage of material written on paper that is still very difficult to do with a mouse or keyboard.

I was really thrilled to see these devices in my creative arsenal.

That has changed.

Taking hours to charge, highly unreliable function and charging times that are a true pain, from breaking parts to non-function, well the technology is just not there.

Oh so close, and yet so far.

The digital world is here to stay. Computers and mobile devices like mobile handsets are part of the fabric of American reality. They are here.

But drawing and handwriting are still with us. The promise of a paperless office is not here. There are still some things better said with pen and paper. Granted, they are becoming fewer.
When it comes to note taking, quick sketches, pen and paper still can trump computers in some ways.
As advances in technology make most of what we do possible on a laptop and a desktop, it is still frustrating that handwriting recognition software and hardware is just shaky to use.

What Inkling and Executive Pen two lack are the abilities to do what they were designed to in a way that is simple and seamless. More importantly, they need to work and last for hours, if not days, on a single charge. The constant worry of running out of juice is a problem. For these devices, these things are still a huge issue.

I do admire and really wanted to like both devices. The Iris Pen looks high end and worked well. Then for some inexplicable reason it became cranky.

Inkling worked well too. But one day, the case broke and I am still trying to see if it can work again. So far, it is missing in action.

I just wanted to let my readers know the later problems I had with two products I had so much hopes pinned.

Email comments to: behrmannart@cox.net

Web site: http://www.behrmannart.com

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