On Our Desk - 18

Written by bit-tech Staff

July 17, 2009 | 11:01

Tags: #book #on-our-desk #round-up

Companies: #bit-tech #lucasarts

Apcom E-Pen

Manufacturer: Apcom
UK Price (as reviewed): £75.00 (Incl. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): TBC

When you first take a look at the e-pen, it seems like a great idea – a pen that you can write on paper with, but which turns your scrawl into legible Times New Roman. In theory, it should allow the speediness and comfort of writing by hand, but the uniformity and longevity of digital fonts.

The two main parts consist of a USB motion sensor - which attaches to the top of your pad or paper via three small clips - and the pen itself. You can then either use the ink attachment to actually take notes or the silly plastic attachment to pretend to take notes, but either way the motion sensor logs all the movements to your computer via the bundled software.

You can also set up a receiver on any flat surface away from your PC and sketch out notes (pretend or otherwise) to then be uploaded to your system at a later time. This could be useful for keeping large quantities of notes without bulky pads, meaning less space and faster access times.

*On Our Desk - 18 Apcom E-Pen Review
You can make up your own jokes

The problem is though, that it just doesn’t work very well. The drawn lines are jaggy and low resolution and using the pen is a pretty shaky affair. There’s a noticeable lag while the PC works out how to decode the pen movements and, even when it does so successfully, the results are pretty hit and miss.

What’s more, the lag is often pretty distracting and the pen itself doesn’t really hold up that well to close scrutiny. It might sound pedantic but the marketing images and packaging make the actual product appear to be something solid, hardy and of premium quality. In actual fact though, that’s not the case.

What you actually get with the Apcom E-Pen though is something that feels very well presented, but cheap none-the-less. The moment you pick it up it’s obvious that rather than being a premium quality product with a solid build quality the Apcom E-Pen is actually just a flimsy and rather cheap feeling plastic pen. It’s essentially a biro with a motion sensor on it and we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the majority of the E-Pen budget was spent on the packaging rather than on creating a product that’s actually capable of performing as you’d expect.

*On Our Desk - 18 Apcom E-Pen Review
It's smaller than we hoped

The really pressing problem though – the one which caps it all off and makes the Apcom E-Pen a product we can’t at all recommend is the price tag. £80 is frankly just an exorbitant amount to consider spending on a digital pen, especially when you consider the niche market that Apcom is really targeting here and how little anyone really needs a gizmo like this. For £80 we’d expect a far better performance out of the Apcom E-Pen, not just laggy, jaggy lines and a vaguely pun-worthy name.

E-Pens. You can probably see what we mean, ho-ho.

At the end of the day, the Apcom E-Pen is just a sub-par product on the whole. It does what it says on the probably-more-expensive-than-the-actual-product tin, but just barely and not in a way that really impressed us or made us think that a digital pen was essential to our lives. We love change. We love technology. We love useless gizmos that solve problems we don’t really have. We just don’t love them enough to see the point of a digital pen instead of just using a keyboard – especially one that doesn’t work all that well.

Verdict: Disappointing in function, unbelievable in price, the E-Pen is also worth having if you want to show off your e-peen to calligraphy experts. We’ve got better things to do.
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