No, I’ve no idea what “Bamboo Slate” means, but the product has a definite use

Bamboo Slate logoThe Wacom Bamboo Slate is not a new product and not everyone would benefit from one, but it helps me in a specific way and might just be of interest to you.

Wacom Bamboo SlateWhat is it? It is a writing pad. You write (or draw or doodle or sketch) onto normal paper with a special ballpoint pen (a bit fatter than a normal ballpoint pen, but it feels the same otherwise). The magic is that, at the push of a button, what you have written is transferred to a mobile phone app and to a cloud account that can be accessed by logging in to a web page.

Why would you want one? When I visit IT Support clients, or speak to a client or potential client on the phone, I usually take notes. In most respects, my life is as paperless as I can get it, but typing directly onto a computer or tablet or phone gets in the way of things (such as listening to the client). I don’t want to have to type up hand-written notes later as there’s a very great chance that I’ll never refer to them agan. Nevertheless, I want a permanent record and, obviously, I need to be able to find specific notes if I have to.

Bamboo penWhy not just use paper? Trawling back through several notebooks to find a record that may or may not exist from six months ago is very tedious. To some extent, the software with the Bamboo Slate can actually read my writing and search through text for me. It also keeps the date and time that each note was saved, so that can also help in searching for specific notes. Notes are kept in the app on a smartphone and also in the cloud, accessible via a browser. This also means, of course, that you don’t have to lug old notebooks around in order to have access to their contents.

Why not just take a photo of a normal hand-written note? Tried that. It does work, and the image can even be searchable (to some extent) if you import it into Evernote, for instance. However, it’s all just too much effort. The beauty of the Bamboo Slate is that it’s very very quick and easy to translate a normal hand-written note into a permanent record and then easier than with paper notes to search for an item later.

The slate itself and the special pen that you have to use weigh just 284gm (plus the weight of a normal notebook), so it’s not a hassle to carry around (as long as you remember to do so!). Refills for the special pen undoubtedly work out more expensive than using a cheap ballpoint pen, but I don’t think that will be a problem.

I have had this Bamboo Slate for several months now. I’ve held off from writing this blog post about it as I thought this might just be one of those things that seems great when it’s novel, but which you stop using and then forget all about. That’s not happened yet, but I’ve found that there’s a little bit of discipline needed in using it:

  • You have to remember to press the button to turn it on – before starting to write the note you want it to record! There’s no boot-up time or anything like that, but I’ve often had to write the beginning of a note twice because I’ve remembered part way through that I’ve not switched it on. Doh!
  • I am careful not to write passwords, or other very sensitive information, on the slate. I have no reason to think that the “Inkspace” cloud account is any less secure than any other cloud-based account, but that’s insecure enough to make it wise to think about what is being stored there.
  • You have to remember to take the Slate with you! One of the mixed blessings of writing notes in a normal notepad is that you can have one on your desk, one in your work bag etc. I say it’s a mixed blessing because searching for an old note might mean searching several notebooks that were on the go at the same time. That doesn’t happen if you use a Bamboo Slate.

How much? £84.99 from PC World for the A5 size (there’s also an A4 size).

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Computer Support in London
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