PROS / Bluetooth connectivity allows you to connect to mobile devices.
CONS / The pen is not compatible with iOS and it doesn't include OCR software.
VERDICT / The IRISNotes 1 for Smartphones is great for syncing your notes to your Android and Blackberry devices but requires additional apps and software to match other digital pens.
The IRISNotes 1 for Smartphones is a digital pen made by the I.R.I.S. Group – a software company that creates "image recognition integrated systems" for businesses. The company's products focus on streamlining business productivity by creating digital workflows. The IRISNotes 1 for Smartphones is a digital pen designed to transfer your handwritten work to Android and BlackBerry mobile devices.
This electronic pen uses a positional receiver that clips to the top of a page and communicates with the pen's tip via infrared and ultrasound waves to create a digital page. The receiver then uses a Bluetooth frequency to sync your notes to mobile devices. You can also use a USB cord to connect and sync to your computer. When synced, the saved digital pages upload to your computer where you can archive, edit and share them with others.
This electronic pen is great for business meeting notes because you can have your notes securely stored to a cloud service by synchronizing directly to your smartphone. You don't have to wait until you reach your computer to share notes online, making this a very mobile digital pen.
However, while the positional receiver allows you to be mobile and doesn't require special paper, you have to be careful not to bump or move the receiver once you've started a page. If the positional receiver moves from its initial position after you start writing, the digital page will distort. This makes it difficult to write on the go. It works best when you can write on a solid surface that doesn't move until you've finished a page.
The pen's size and weight make it comfortable to write or sketch with for long periods. There's a slight shelf between the grip and the pen's tip to keep your index finger from interfering with the signals. However, you still have to be careful not to rest your free hand at the top of the paper, as is common for many people to keep the paper from moving. Resting your hand here will keep any pen strokes from recording to the digital page because the hand will block the signal.
At eight hours of life, the IRISNotes 1 has one of the weakest batteries that we tested. In addition, Bluetooth drains the battery much quicker, bringing the battery life down to just over two hours if you have it on continuously. If you use this electronic pen often, you'll be recharging every night and maybe a couple times a day.
The biggest flaw with the IRISNotes 1 for Smartphones is the lack of optical character recognition software that learns your handwriting and converts it to editable text. The desktop note manager has limited abilities to convert your handwriting to text. However, this feature in the software is very inaccurate and doesn't learn your handwriting tendencies, which requires you to modify your handwriting for it. In addition, handwritten notes synced to or written directly into your mobile devices won't convert to text unless you purchase an OCR app.
Positional receiver electronic pens like this one are simple to use because the setup is easy and the software is uncluttered with unnecessary graphics. However, if you run into problems, the support tab on the company website is limited. Plus, it's difficult to navigate and has more than a few broken links. They do include a section of FAQs and user guides or you can send a message to their customer service. Unfortunately, several of the customer service links were broken and the English-language User Manual was missing from the download when we accessed the site, forcing us to stumble through many of the functions and features.
The IRISNotes 1 for Smartphones is a digital pen that works with your mobile devices through Bluetooth technology to streamline the sharing and archiving of your handwritten notes and sketches. Unfortunately, the OCR capabilities of the desktop program are very limited and you can't convert any handwriting from your mobile devices. Further, using Bluetooth can drain the battery significantly and the device is not compatible with iOS devices.