CES 2006: At last a digital pen worth owning

CES 2006, Gadgets

Ever used a digital pen? Thought not. For starters they are way too pricey and then you have the faff of having to carry around the special paper they work with you. Lastly you constantly have to recharge the pen as the battery life is invariably short.

Well an innovation from an Israeli company called Epos could change all that and maybe break the digital pen as a mainstream product. At CES the company has been parading a digital pen and a flash memory decoder device imaginatively titled the Digital Pen and USB flash Drive Bundle. The pen works as standard pen would with the user writing on any type of paper.

The clever part is that the decoder then stores the data, which is sent from the pen to the decoder in acoustic waves, on the flash memory drive. The scrawl can then be transferred via USB to a PC and, using XP’s conversion system, turned into text. Battery life is also apparently pretty good with decoder working for twenty hours before it needs topping up. The only slight drawback is that the flash drive, which is pretty tiny anyhow, has to be in the line of sight of the pen.

If carrying two devices still sounds too much like hard work Epos claims it is working on a solution where the pen would feature a flash drive and decoder. Perhaps the best part of the system its price. Whereas rival digital pens from companies like Logitech start at around £130 Epos reckons its system, which will have someone else’s branding when it launches in the UK in third quarter, will go for less than £50. The pen on its own – it comes with a plug in decoder that has to be connected to a PC – should cost around £30 and will be available in Q2. Incidentally the pen can also double as a wireless mouse.

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