Digital note taking has some serious advantages, but it can’t quite match the tactile, no-fuss experience of pen-and-paper writing. Wacom’s Bamboo Slate ($199) and Bamboo Folio ($149) give you the best of both worlds, backing your traditionally handwritten notes up to the cloud with the touch of a button. And with a subscription to Wacom’s Inkspace Plus service ($2.99 per month), you get such extra features as text recognition, which lets you search your handwritten notes using keywords.
It works because the Slate and Folio both have a pressure-sensitive panels built in, which allows them to detect your pen strokes. Pressing a button on either device instantly sends a digital recreation of your notes to any mobile device with the Wacom Inkspace app installed.
The Bamboo Slate and Folio are essentially the same product, with the one difference being the Folio’s fold-over cover, which adds extra pockets for business cards and an extra pad of paper. The Slate is a simple clipboard style device with room for one paper pad, and unlike the Folio it’s also available in a smaller, more portable size for $129.
The Bamboo Slate and Folio are far from the first products to save and transcribe your handwritten notes into digital documents. For example, LiveScribe has a variety of products that do just that, but there are key differences in how the products work. Most notably, while LiveScribe only works with expensive special paper, the Wacom Slate and Folio will work with any old notepad you have lying around.
But there are other tradeoffs. You’ll still have to buy a Wacom’s proprietary ink cartridges to use with the special pen that comes included with the Slate and Folio. The cartridges are $9.99 for a pack of three. And in order to get text recognition, you’ll need to continuously subscribe to Wacom’s Inkspace Plus service, which costs $2.99 per month. That functionality is totally free with the LiveScribe 3.
That’s why workers considering the Bamboo Folio or Slate might want to consider going all digital by picking up a stylus-equipped tablet or 2-in-1 laptop instead. Still, Wacom’s pads are great for workers who want that pen-on-paper feel without sacrificing the benefits of digital note taking.