random thoughts on science and tech... yeah, it used to be about electronic lab notebooks but that was a decade ago

REVIEW: Capturx for Microsoft® Office OneNote® – The ELN Bridge

 


Capturx(from Adapx) may be able to finally bring peace to this world which is so tragically divided into TechNerds and TechPhobics.


 

Quick Summary – Pros & Cons
 
   If you find someone very opposed to using ELNs in the lab, slip them the Capturx pen and notebook. They’ll be recording their work as usual, unaware that they have stepped into the 21st century! It works as advertised- simple, easy, Onenote integrated (thus you can search for text since Onenote has handwriting recognition), and waterproof. The battery was never an issue and the pen seems durable. The pen is larger than a normal pen, but not too large. You do need special paper or the special notebook, but if you are using it for a lab notebook, you should be writing everything only in the notebook anyway. I see areas for improvement, but very few drawbacks.
 
Pros
      Simple – to use and connect to computer
      Text Recognition of Onenote
 vs Tablet PC
      Spilling chemicals on it won’t cost you a thousand dollars
      Smaller, lighter, less conspicuous than writing on a computer
      Fits in a lab pocket
Cons
      Price (over $300) – less than a tablet pc though
      New notebooks are over $20
      Can’t print a protocol and ink directly onto it (maybe in the future)

Poduct demo – Link here
 
   Here’s what you get:

 
   So I tested this around the lab and at a Epilepsy Conference. Quite simply – it just works. Battery was never an issue, installation of capturx software was simple, connecting the pen to the computer (with a provided dock) was easy, and in the end you have all your notes in Onenote (just like if you had a tablet pc).
 
Durability
I gently dropped the $300 pen a couple times, then as I built confidence I dropped and stepped on it to simulate our crazy lab environment – still works. I thought about letting my one year old boy use it as a drum stick, but I’ll save that for when I no longer want to use the unit.
 
In the lab and at the conference
It’s just like a normal lab notebook. Actually it’s smaller than a composition notebook and a little more convenient. In meetings it really shines. Not only does it blend in better than a tablet pc, but later I can flip through notes in the notebook or search the notes using Onenote’s text search. The handwriting recognition is exceptional!
 
Future possibilities
I was excited for this pen because I was under the impression I could print out my protocols, give them to an undergrad, and have the student run the experiment writing any changes, notes, or observations using the pen. Then I just stick the pen in the cradle and I have a record of what happened. Unfortunately, you can only write in the notebook currently. In the future I hope they include a feature to print (with their special background which the pen recognizes).

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