Better Than Paper & Pen?

There is an oddly named tablet called the Boogie Board, by Improv Electronics, that’s a perfect mix of technology and fun. The surface of the tablet uses Reflex LCD technology and only needs the available room light to display your image. A small button can “electronically erase” the image up to 50,000 times before the built-in battery is depleted. The included plastic stylus can make thick or thin lines depending on your drawing pressure.

I bought the original $40 tablet which was only a write and erase product. Their new version, called the RIP (for record image, preserve), can conveniently store your images in vector form PDF and runs about $130. This addresses the original’s short comings of ‘what do I do when I draw something interesting?’ Of course you can’t go back and see what you’ve saved without a computer, but for the artist on the go, this is a nice way to avoid damaged and dirtied paper.

I really do like this product for a several reasons. The most obvious is that once you have a sketch, you don’t need to scan, import and clean up the image like you do with traditional paper and pen. Also, by creating a direct digital file that is vector-based, means you can easily import and scale to practically any size.

There are a few other products out there to capture drawings but many require a computer to display the image as you draw or need special paper and pen to store the image. The closet product I’ve found so far to the RIP is the Wacom Inkling. It is a special pen with a receiver that you clip onto your paper pad. It is $70 more than the RIP, requires you to draw in black ink, needs to be recharged and doesn’t have perfect accuracy. But you can create multi-layer images, save in multiple formats and it is the closest to pen and paper (in fact it is pen and paper) than the LCD devices.

But the best part of these new drawing technologies is that they’re novel ways to introduce drawing skills to people of all ages. And for designers and artists bridging the paper-computer gap, the tablet simplifies the process all for less than a couple hundred dollars. In this digital age where most young designers prefer to do their drawing with the computer, this computerized pen and paper equivalent can reintroduce the perhaps more creative eye-hand relationship.

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3 Responses to Better Than Paper & Pen?

  1. Interesting review, David. I already have an iPad and have been thinking about adding the Wacum Bamboo stylus; wonder how that stacks up against this? Sounds like the Boogie Board would be great choice if you didn’t already have a tablet of some sort.

    • David says:

      I also have the Bamboo and rarely use it for most of the graphic work I do. Looking at the screen and using the stylus on my lap or desk creates a bit of a discconnect for me – especially for precision work. I find the mouse to be a bit more intuitive with a more relaxed hand position. However, for artists who use a tablet and stylus to draw freehand or sketch, it is much better than the mouse and this is where the Bamboo shines. I think the benefit of the Boogie board is that you are looking at the stylus as you draw (and not at a separate screen). This enhances eye-hand coordination and perhaps is easier when drawing straight and precise lines. However you can find an inexpensive Bamboo to try it ($35 at BestBuy). Would love to hear about your experince if you decide to buy one. Thanks!

  2. Hmm, might get one in my stocking this weekend 🙂

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