The Shot Note pads are billed as an easy way to digitize handwriting and sketches, and this year they were handing out some samples.
I picked up two 5×8 Writing pads in ruled and dot graph format to try out. As usual for these sorts of tests, I am trying it out at my local Starbucks to simulate “real world” use.
I can’t tell if people are staring at me because I am taking pictures of notebooks like a crazy person, or if it is because I have a World Cup match playing on the iPad beside me.
It’s All About The Corners
These writing pads come with 40 sheets of lined or graph paper. Unfortunately, they are single-sided.
The first thing you will notice is that the pages have strange-looking squares on each corner. The Shot Note app (more on that in a moment) uses these markings to easily determine the page capture area.
Speaking of the pages, I have seem some complaints online that the paper is a bit thin and that there can be some bleedthrough. Unless you’re Daniel Gold and use a fountain pen, you probably won’t have an issue, but it is something to be aware of. I personally have not experienced any bleedthrough problems with my trusty Pilot G2 .38 pen.
Capture With The Shot Note App
When you use the app, you position the camera so that the corners are inside the blue boxes and hit the button to take the picture (it’d be nice if it automatically detects that and does it for you).
Once you take the picture, it automatically crops out everything outside of the corners.
One thing I don’t understand: if it is able to crop out everything outside of the corners, why don’t they crop out the corners themselves? It is weird that the resulting image still has the corner squares and the Ampad branding. Who would want that?
Here is an image captured with the grid paper. Once you capture the image, you can perform basic cleanup such as making it black & white, adjusting the brightness, and adjusting the contrast.
The Shot Note app wouldn’t be very useful if the images stayed in the app. Fortunately you can email the image, and one handy feature is the ability to set up a default email address.
You can also link the app to your Evernote or Dropbox account.
For Evernote, you can set a default notebook and default tags for your exported images.
When you export to Dropbox, it creates a folder under Apps called Ampad Shot Note. For each exported note, it creates a folder which has a text file containing the note’s description, and a JPG with the image.
The Ampad Shot Note pads are an interesting idea and the app seems to work well. The 5×8" Writing Pad, which I used, is available on Amazon. There are also 8.5×11.75" pads, 9×12" spiral bound notebooks, and even easel pads.
While everything works well, I am not a huge fan of systems like this that rely on proprietary paper that you have to keep buying. At $6 for 40 single-sided sheets, it will get pretty expensive if you use it a lot (maybe I am just cheap though).
Maybe that’s my bias though – do you see any great uses for a system like this? Let me know why I am wrong in the comments.