ACECAD DigiMemo A402

Digital pad captures and stores everything you write or draw on paper

The DigiMemo A402 is simply an electronic A4 handwriting device with built-in data storage. It digitally records everything you write or draw on the pad with ink using the supplied digital ink pen. You can then download the stored pages of data to a PC and organise and email them if required.

The benefit for business meetings, journalists at press conferences, or anyone that makes notes that may need to be then distributed to others is clear. It saves bags of time and is as simple to use as, well, a pen and paper.

The plastic pad accepts four AAA batteries into a slot on the back, while a small 1.55-volt button cell slots into the base of the supplied electronic ink pen. A small LCD is used to indicate the active page, its number, whether the page contains text, or is being written upon, plus the memory in use. It indicates 'M' for internal memory, or 'SD' if using a common Secure Digital card, slotted into its side.

After just a short while using the DigiMemo A402, I came to the conclusion that it could be an ideal meeting and business gadget for anyone that needs to keep notes or write up minutes.

For a start, you can leave your laptop at home and scribble away, using the electronic pen, onto the DigiMemo’s paper pad and offload the written information in a digital form later on. The file formats used are a proprietary digital page ( .DHW) or digital book ( .DHD).

The only glitch is that whoever you send these digitised handwritten files to will need to download the DigiMemo Manager software that is a free to download from the ACECAD  website at: acecad.com.tw/download.html

Although the job of exporting the graphic data that represents the text is handled with aplomb by the Manager software (BMP, PNG, GIF, and JPG formats are supported), the optional handwriting recognition software MyScriptNotes 2.0 is only supplied as a 30-day trial, which means additional expense (actually £41.99 from Selwyn Electronics) if you want to export handwritten notes to, for example, word processing packages such as Microsoft Word. This would indeed be the best use of the device.

Still, the supplied DigiMemo Manager software works really well and allows you to quickly organise and save your handwritten pages as digital documents that can be saved for emailing to other recipients.

The interface is fairly intuitive with a paired-down, Word-like set of tools across the top, and a colour palette for coding certain passages of your handwriting.

Once done writing, you connect the DigiMemo to your Windows PC with the included USB cable (or offload using a memory card reader) and start importing the stored files onto your C: drive.

However, it’s worth noting that with the DigiMemo connected via its USB cable you can still access both the internal memory and any optional external SD memory cards you might have in place.

The software allows you to preview the pages before importing them too and the imported pages are remarkably accurate compared with your handwritten pages.

Particularly useful as a memory jog if reviewing your notes at a later date, DigiMemo manager software lets you highlight and markup specific passages in colour should you need to.

Verdict: 
For anyone reading this who uses a heavy tablet PC (the DigiMemo weights just 660g with batteries) or who takes copious notes and later spends ages transcribing them into a word processing package, the DigiMemo makes a lot of sense. Easy to use and fast, the DigiMemo A402 is a cracking piece of kit but my one caveat is this: for a paper pad and pen with some digital gubbins, it seems, well, a tad pricey. But it starts to look more exciting if viewed as a starting point for what may be achievable and commonplace in the near future.