In a very fast changing world, in a world with Google, where our searches and Google Docs can be transcribed from our speech, the necessity of typing or physically writing things down is diminishing rapidly. And there are countless situations and times where writing is still absolutely necessary. Definitely we can’t vocally take notes on our phones or computers during a lecture or typing our notes down on our phones in the middle of a meeting, because it’s distracting and unacceptable. Also, there are some people that just aren’t comfortable or have difficulty being understood by our listening mobile devices. Do you think these people get left behind in our ever advancing world of technology? Absolutely not. Smartpens are the real deal and are here to bridge the gap between the pen and paper and digital storage and sharing, this could be the gateway to easy way of thinking and writing everything down.
The Neo smartpen N2 is NeoLAB’s smartpen solution for the busy world where papers and pens almost collide. It is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign which is now made available to anyone online. The N2 is basically a pen with a camera that watches and remembers or passes on what you’re writing to a mobile device or Android device. The camera simply watches at 120 frames per second and the pen can sense the pressure that you’re using it to write. However, in order to work, the N2 currently requires special paper with Ncode technology, paper with little tiny character patterns that tell the N2 and the companion app where and what page you’re writing on. It primarily uses Bluetooth to connect with either Android or iOS.
With the Neo smartpen N2 also comes with a companion app that can be found in the Google Play Store which is the Neo Notes. And through the Neo Notes app you can simply “register”, or connect, your N2 with your device. It requires Android 4.1.2 or higher version of Android. The N2 has a button on it which allows user to turn the pen on and off as well as pair the pen. Additionally, it has a full color LED light that tells you when it’s on or it’s off, in pairing mode, and running low on battery. The pen itself has internal memory as well, so even if you’re not around your phone or not paired at any given time, the pen will store what you are writing so it can be transferred to your device and saved later when needed. Neo stated as well that the pen can hold up to 1000 pages on A4 paper of offline writing.
On the other side, the Neo smartpen N2 requires special proprietary paper for the pen to work. In short, the N2 uses Ncode technology that is simply “a combination of lines and symbols printed so small they are difficult for the eye to perceive, which is a little bit frustrating to some. Each line and symbol constitutes a pattern to express a unique code for each location on the page. So it’s really cool how well this technology works though. The camera on the pen takes pictures as well or what you write and it figures out where you wrote it from the Ncode. It even records the pressure of your stroke, that meticulous. If you have the pen connected to your phone, then you can watch what you are writing immediately and it appear in your notebook in the Neo Notes companion app. The N2 and the app are sensitive enough, it even know when you’re using a different notebook and when you change pages and it just moves to the next page and doesn’t skip a beat.
Other than needing special paper, as a technology device, I haven’t been blown away with battery life or battery management for the N2. On the Neo smartpen N2 website it states that the pen is able to auto-shutoff and there is a setting for that within the Neo Notes app, but I haven’t found that setting. So, I don’t know if my pen is currently auto-shutting off. And a lot of times when I go to use it if I haven’t been charging it, it’s not charged. Additionally, I just wish it had better battery life. It’s one more thing to have to worry about having charged and it would be nice if I felt like it didn’t need to be charged daily.
Other than battery life, the pen is just super easy to use, good for those older corporate groups. Even a preschooler can do it, so can you.
The feature that could be the most useful is transcribing and being able to digitally store hand written notes and easily share them is one big thing. But the ability to transcribe and make notes searchable sounds like it could have save you lots of time. Searchable notes sound pretty amazing. Though the transcribing didn’t handle bullet points that well, but sure it wouldn’t take long to get along great with the Neo smartpen N2 and the transcribing feature in Neo Notes. And by the way, you can also sync your notes with Evernote and Google Drive. But things aren’t sure yet if the Smartpen works that well on rooted Android devices.