We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

Reviews

ACECAD DigiMemo A501

By Brandon Miniman May 9, 2005, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

I take tons of notes while in meetings. I try to take these notes on my laptop, but I have to admit that my counterparts in the meeting get tired of the noise from the keyboard (especially when I make mistakes). And though I have owned a PDA for quite a while, I find that entering text into it can be quite a challenge when I'm in a hurry.

So, when I am in a meeting, I resort to manual note taking. Yup, that's right, good old pen and paper. This means of "Data Entry" has the benefit of not requiring batteries, but the only way to send these notes electronically is to scan them or to transcribe them.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

I have watched the development of Tablet PCs (expensive) and special pens (cumbersome) with great interest. I firmly believe that there is great power in "napkin conferences", those that capture spur of the moment ideas on nothing more than a simple piece of paper. Problem is, I had not been able to easily get this information into electronic form until now.

WHAT'S HOT

The ACECAD DigiMemo A501 is almost too simple to be true. It is a "digital notepad", that is, it captures the motion of your pen while you are writing on standard paper, and retains this information in digital form. Because of this, these notes can be edited and manipulated on the PC before being emailed or run through OCR software. The unit itself is no larger than a standard 8 1/2" by 11" clipboard, though it will only allow for up to about A5 sized paper (5.9" by 8.3").

The Digimemo A501 – Manual Notetaking, electronic storage.

PRODUCT FEATURES

The DigiMemo A501 digital pad runs off of 4 AAA batteries (rated use of >100 hours) and the digital inking pen included with it has one button cell battery (a #377, very common) rated to last for 14 months. The pad itself weighs in at just under 1.25 lbs, and the pen feels no heavier than an average ball point pen. The DigiMemo pad has 8MB of built-in memory and also provides a CF slot to add extra memory for when you will be in meetings all day.

The package includes the DigiMemo pad itself, one pack of A5 notebook paper, a standard-to-mini USB interface cable, the digital inking pen, a clip to secure loose papers to the pad, an instruction manual, and the DigiMemo manager software CD.

The Digimemo package contents.

Removing the top silver cover reveals the battery tray and slot for optional CF Type I memory.

Once the batteries have been installed into the pad, you must install one button cell battery into the top of the pen.

On the top left of the DigiMemo pad, there are a series of buttons and a LCD digital display that control the digital pad. All you have to remember to do is to turn the unit on when you begin to write and to press the page down button to move to the next blank page in memory as you change the page on your physical pad. The nice thing about this system is that it uses plain, ordinary paper as well as standard pen refills from manufacturers such as Cross, Zebra or Lamy (it comes with two refills included, which are stored in the DigiMemo pad itself). To begin using the pad, press the power button on the upper right side and start writing normally with the digital pen. The pen shuts itself off automatically when not in use.

The DigiMemo pad is ready for use. The LCD indicates that this is the first page we will work with, that the page is empty, and that we are using CF instead of internal (M) memory.

The writing from the digital pen is smooth, a nice choice of a standard pen cartridge. But don't lose the pen!!

Once text is put into the system, we need to turn our attention to the PC install of the DigiMemo management software. The installation is straightforward, requiring only that you insert the CD and follow the instructions. The installation itself requires only 10MB of space on your hard drive. The software allows you to retain the documents you bring in as either DigiMemo native format (editable), or allows you to save it in either BMP, GIF, JPG, or PNG formats. Saving the document in these later formats does not allow the same editability as the native format, however.

After you are done writing, connect the DigiMemo to your PC with the included USB cable.

Importing a File to the C: drive. It is possible to extract files from the USB connection or directly with a CF adapter.

With the DigiMemo connected you can see both the internal memory (DMEMO-M) and optional CF memory (DMEMO-C).

The software allows you to preview the pages before importing them.

You can see that the imported files are very accurate with respect to the written page.

If you review your notes later, the DigiMemo manager software allows for markup of the existing information. In this case, I turned the first sentence blue.

HELP SUPPORT

The DigiMemo A501 has a 1 year hardware warranty in the US. The User's Guide is fairly thorough, and does a good job of covering the features of the device as well as the function of the software package that accompanies it. The product itself is fairly simplistic to use, the only thing is that you have to remember to change the page on the device when you change the page on the pad, or the electronic copy will be a mess.

BUGS AND WISHES

The DigiMemo software saves the written data in a proprietary digital page (.DHW) or digital book (.DHD) file. So it goes without saying that whomever you send these files to will have to download the DigiMemo manager software (free of charge from the ACECAD website. Although the product does a good job of exporting graphic data that represents the text (BMP, PNG, GIF, and JPG), I would love to see this product be able to export editable text in Microsoft OneNote or a similar product. If anyone figures this out, send me an email, because this feature would make this product ideal for many of my meetings.

Although the DigiMemo provides a clip on the bottom of the pad for the pen, I still worry that I will lose the pen, very similar to how one could lose the stylus from a Tablet PC. ACECAD tries to address this with a tether ring on the DigiMemo and on the electronic pen. While this seems like an adequate idea, I'd rather not use the tether. So I will just have to be careful not to lose the pen.

I only noticed one thing I would change in this unit from an operational standpoint. It is possible to hook up both inputs and have music both work at the same time. I might be able to see some use from this, but mostly I wish that when you plug in the retractable cable, it would supercede and shut off the secondary audio input. Other than this, the unit has performed flawlessly, delivering good performance for the money.

Pros

  • Very low battery consumption
  • Inexpensive when compared to some digital pens and Tablet PCs
  • Small, lightweight footprint

Cons

  • Proprietary format places limitations on functionality
  • Markup software is a bit basic when compared to heavy-hitters like OneNote

Overall

What do these ratings mean?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

As someone who frequently is writing heavy notes in whiteboarding meetings, I feel that this product hits a niche market for those who prefer to write and take notes by hand without the use of a Tablet PC. Though great strides have been made in Tablet PC battery life, I feel that none still compare to a product that uses paper, but gives the option of electronic copies.

Search

Latest Articles

iOS

Here's how the Apple iPod changed the world in 21 years

iPod was an industry-changing device at its time, and it had a massive impact on modern smartphones, and the way we listen to music. We take a last look at the now-discontinued Apple iPod and the history it leaves behind.

By Roland Udvarlaki May 11, 2022, 10:00 am
iOS

How to use Mic Modes in VOIP and FaceTime Calls

This guide will go over the steps you need to follow to activate one of the available Mic Mode settings on Apple Devices to begin using the feature and improve your calling experience.

By Aryan Suren May 10, 2022, 10:00 am
Phones

This iPhone 14 feature might urge users to upgrade

Until now, it appeared that iPhone 14 would only be a minor upgrade over the iPhone 13 series. However, a new leak suggests that the iPhone 14 will come with one feature that might urge users to upgrade.

By Sanuj Bhatia May 9, 2022, 5:00 am