By Rebecca Feinstein
Rebecca Feinstein is a technical writer.
I was thrilled when I first found out there was a digital scribe product at the last WINNERS meeting. As many of you recall, I was well, somewhat reluctant shall we say, to give up the raffle donation item. At the 35% discount I could not wait to get it.
The IOGEAR Mobile Digital Scribe took six days to get here from the Illinois. It comes with the pen, cable, mobile unit, two program CDs something that looks like a green tipped stylus (turned out to be the pen/refill), two small (hearing aid size) batteries and a Quick Start Guide.
Installation of the software was easy, Mobile Digital Scribe (Note Management) and My Script Notes Lite (handwriting recognition software); as was charging the mobile unit and installing the batteries into the pen. However, installing the pen was a bit puzzling as in the reference guide, IOGEAR never shows the actual size of the refill in the pictures. It also took a few e-mails to Customer Support and product management to find out where you can purchase the re-fills as well.
Okay, I got it up and working, I did a few test runs with it at home with the mobile unit attached to the computer. The note management software required a bit of a learning curve, but still was fairly easy to use. Included with the software is a .pdf users guide for the entire kit (58 pages). The handwriting recognition software was pretty impressive. With my handwriting I expected it to have a problem with my convoluted shorthand as well as my capital Is, js and my contractions. To my surprise, the software only had a problem with the Is. It even captured my signature scrawl quite well! As with a regular pen, the program doesnít erase; but recognizes crossed out information as crossed out.
With all this practice under my belt, I decided it was time to haul out the big guns, Ė WORK! As a technical writer, as with many other positions, I attend a lot of meetings. My expectations were high for my new tool. No more having to rewrite all my notes into electronic format for distribution. I was armed and I was ready for combat. After receiving permission to install the software on my office unit, I got set up and ready to rock. I attended three meetings that day.
On the big plus side, it was very nice to have my notes appear in e-form without having to transcribe them at all. This made putting them into agenda form a breeze.
On the problem side of using the scribe, a major drawback is the mobile unit clips are made to only grab a few pages of paper at a time. Unless you are intending to take one pageís worth of notes, you have to remove the mobile unit to turn pages to take more notes. This proved to be distracting and inconvenient in one of my meetings. And I found it to be very unwieldy when I was standing to take note as the mobile unit added weight to the top of the paper pad.
The pen, which is thicker than Iím used to (standard stationary pens) felt unwieldy in my hand to begin with. The button that allows you to switch between pen mode and mouse mode is located in the lower part of the pen, towards where it writes on the paper and I kept inadvertently clicking it as I was writing. So some of my notes from the first meeting resembled a word game puzzle.
Another problem, though a lesser one, is the quick reference guide itself. The print is so small, I had to borrow a friendís magnifying glass to read some of it. Keith Renty was correct when he said at our meeting that the user information was not written well. Nowhere in the users guide, or quick reference material is a description of everything that was to come with the kit (the graphic that points to everything in the kit to make sure you know the stylus is actually the pen cartridge). There is no technical support information listed in the users guide, but contact information is listed in the back of quick start guide.
Overall, Iím pleased with the performance, and not so-pleased with the customer support.
Winners is a member of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG) is an international, platform-independent, nonprofit corporation (incorporated in Washington, DC) devoted to helping user groups throughout the world. Almost 400 user groups are members of APCUG. http://www.apcug.net/